Sindh lawlessness

Published November 29, 2023

GOVERNMENTS come and go, but little has been done to control rampant crime across Sindh, particularly its lawless capital. The caretaker chief minister of Sindh identified one of the key problems in this regard when he noted that crime was being “patronised by the police”. While honest officers do try and fight crime, far too many black sheep within the force tarnish its image by protecting criminals, while also engaging in criminal activities themselves. The recent case of a DSP’s alleged involvement in a Karachi house robbery is just one example of this malignant tendency. As per conventional wisdom, no criminal racket can operate without the ‘blessings’ of the local SHO. The crime figures the IGP gave the chief minister on Monday paint a grim picture. Over 1,600 murders have occurred in the province this year, while 232 kidnappings and 155 extortion cases have been reported. According to CPLC data, thousands of vehicle and mobile phone thefts are reported from Karachi every month. In fact, the actual figures may be higher as many people do not report crimes, as they have no hope in the criminal justice system. And while street crime has turned into an epidemic in Karachi, kidnappings for ransom are a ‘small industry’ in upper Sindh.

The Sindh police chief’s excuse that crime fighting has been affected by the police’s preoccupation with rounding up illegal immigrants, anti-smuggling operations, etc, does not fly. While it is true that policing is affected by VIP duties and other elite-centric activities, the actual problem lies elsewhere. Corruption and inefficiency are the real issues affecting law enforcement’s performance, due mainly to the politicisation of police, as the force protects the interests of its political masters, rather than making the province safer for the people. Until the police force is reorganised along modern lines, and the colonial model is jettisoned, combating crime in Sindh will remain a difficult task.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2023

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