• IGP says more than 23,000 POs belong to Larkana division
• Karachi figure stands at 12,266
• SHC orders cancellation of their CNICs, freezing of bank accounts
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court was on Monday informed that there were over 50,000 proclaimed offenders (POs) in the province and 23,000 of them belonged to Larkana division alone.
Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Riffat Mukhtar appeared before a two-judge bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha, and filed a report about fugitives in the province.
The number of POs in Karachi’s three zones of police’s organisational structure stands at 12,266 (6,106, 4,252 & 1,908 POs in Karachi’s East, South and West zones); 6,282 in Hyderabad zone; 536 in Mirpurkhas; 2,126 in Shaheed Benazirabad; 4,987 in Sukkur and 23,257 POs in Larkana zone.
The report stated that 608 offenders booked by the Counter-Terrorism Department were also at large.
It stated that eight POs, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder Altaf Hussain, had left the country.
Expressing its concerns over the huge number of POs in the province, the bench directed the authorities to cancel the computerised national identity cards (CNICs) and passports of all 50,058 fugitives and freeze their bank accounts.
The bench directed the IGP to ensure the arrest of these POs and file a compliance report along with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to apprehend them.
On the last hearing, the SHC had ordered the ministries of foreign affairs and interior to cancel the passports and CNICs of MQM leader Hammad Siddiqui and two other POs and asked the authorities to file a complete list of all fugitives in Sindh.
When the hearing began on Monday, the bench was informed that the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) had cancelled the CNICs of Mr Siddiqui, Taqi Haider Shah and Khurram Nisar.
A law officer of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) submitted that a circular to all banks had been issued to freeze the accounts of three POs.
About cancellation of their passports, the bench was informed that it was the responsibility of the interior ministry as opposed to ministry of foreign affairs.
Regarding the extradition of these POs, the ministry of foreign affairs in its report submitted that Taqi Haider Shah, who had fled the country after killing an insurance officer in Karachi around 10 years ago, was in the UAE and the evidence sought by the UAE authorities had been provided to them for his extradition.
The report maintained that the third PO, Khurram Nisar, who had escaped to Sweden after killing police constable Abdur Rehman in November 2022 in a Clifton locality, was a Swedish national.
The bench noted that since the PO was a dual national the Swedish authorities had universal jurisdiction to proceed and prosecute him in Sweden for the offence he committed in Pakistan.
The Swedish authorities had apparently made a request for mutual legal assistance from Pakistan in this case so they might prosecute him in Sweden and it seemed that the ministry of interior was dealing the matter, the bench observed.
However, the bench directed the interior secretary to appear in court or depute a senior officer of the ministry to file a report on the next hearing as to what steps had been taken to assist Swedish authorities in this case.
In the light of the court’s previous order, the IGP-Sindh appeared and filed a report in court, stating that there were 50,058 POs across the province.
“We find that the huge number of proclaimed offenders on the loose shows an extraordinary lack of effort and commitment on the part of police to bring these persons to justice,” the court order said.
It also noted that the IG had filed numerous booklets containing name of each POs and directed Nadra, SBP and ministry of interior to ensure that their CNICs, passports must be cancelled and bank accounts frozen.
The bench directed the Nadra chairman, SBP governor, interior and foreign affairs secretaries to file compliance reports on the next date.
It also ordered the Sindh police chief to ensure the arrest of the 50,058 POs and file a report on the next date of hearing.
Adjourning the hearing till Oct 23, the bench asked the provincial secretaries of labour and law departments to sit together and finalise and implement the SOPs for health, safety and adequate firefighting in each factory of Karachi.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2023