KARACHI: Less than three weeks before the date of polling for the local government elections in Karachi division, the Sindh police chief has conveyed to the provincial government that he cannot withdraw policemen busy in relief efforts in flood-hit parts of the province to deploy them in the metropolis for election security, it emerged on Monday.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had fixed Oct 23 for the LG election in the seven districts of Karachi. Last week, Karachi Administrator and provincial government’s spokesperson Murtaza Wahab had also hinted at further deferrment of the much-delayed LG polls.

“We have an emergency situation in other districts of Sindh due to devastating flood...we cannot pull-out manpower from there to utilise them for elections in Karachi,” Inspector General of Police Ghulam Nabi Memon told Dawn. “We are facing a shortfall of over 16,000 policemen for LG election security in Karachi and such a force cannot be withdrawn at this stage.”

Also, the IG Office sent a letter dated Oct 2 to the provincial home secretary expressing its inability to provide police force for the LG elections in Karachi scheduled to be held on Oct 23.

IGP tells provincial govt police from other districts cannot be withdrawn for at least three months due to flood situation

Nearly 40,000 cops needed in Karachi

The letter stated that Karachi range has envisaged the deployment of 39,293 policemen out of which 14,958 personnel had to be called from other districts of Sindh, while a reserve of 7,150 was planned to be raised from auxiliaries to meet the shortfall as per the scales given by the ECP.

“Presently, we can only muster a few thousand police personnel from all available resources that too is possible theoretically if all Karachi police force deployed to support flood relief operation is called back to duty in Karachi,” the letter, seen by Dawn, read.

It said there would be a “shortfall of 16,786 police personnel” from the desired/required security deployment planned for the second phase of the local government elections.

Besides, the IG office stated in the letter that the Karachi police would not be able to avail the full human resources from other units —security and traffic — as all available force as well as traffic police of Karachi range were deployed on highways to manage traffic following the destruction of certain sections of highways and roads and to provide security to flood relief vehicles in the light of “increasing snatching / public disturbances/ crime on highways and the districts due to flood situation”.

The letter further pointed out that Karachi range had earlier planned to “raise 7,150 auxiliaries from lady health visitors, recruits awaiting training [out of which 1,800 have joined training], PTV security guards and other Sindh government departments. In wake of the floods, the availability of all auxiliaries is improbable thus further exacerbating the shortfall to 16,786”, it said.

‘Enormous shortfall’

The enormous shortfall of manpower required for LG elections Phase-II can’t be met without deployment of police force from other districts of the province. However, the police in other districts were “unavailable due to floods for at least three months”.

The home department was informed that the Sindh police had sent additional force from Karachi range to flood-affected districts in Sindh and it include senior officers, traffic police and regular policemen from operations wing including the Rapid Response Force to assist local police in maintenance of law and order as well as managing smooth flow of traffic on Mehran and National Highways.

“Due to flood situation in almost all district of interior Sindh and the present commitment of district police personnel in flood relief operation, it has become impossible for Sindh police to pool manpower required for Local Government Elections-2022 Phase-2 (Karachi range) from Larkana, Sukkur, Shaheed Benazirabad, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas Ranges (which hitherto has been done in all previous elections),” the letter concluded.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2022

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