KARACHI: Rising street crimes in the capital of Sindh brought face-to-face allies in the Centre on Sunday when MQM-P censured the PPP-led provincial government and demanded policing powers for Rangers across Sindh.

In a strong rebuke, the PPP accused MQM-P of deliberately undermining police — the primary law enforcement agency — due to “vested political interests.”

Addressing a press conference, senior MQM-P leaders, along with the newly elected legislators of the party, also questioned the recent appointment of Sindh police chief, saying that development “seemingly emboldened criminals, resulting in a surge of criminal activities across the province”.

Last month, the federal government appointed Ghulam Nabi Memon as the inspector general of police for the second time on Sindh government’s recommendation.

Izhar seeks policing powers for Rangers; home minister dismisses criticism, reposes trust in police

The MQM-P leaders presented a “charge sheet” against the PPP government and Sindh police, blaming them for their “failure and incompetence”. They also demanded the federal government intervene in the “larger interest of Karachi and its people.”

The party leaders also expressed anger over the “bandit rule” in rural Sindh, where highways are closed after sunset to keep motorists safe from armed robbers.

“And when the people of Karachi and rural areas are crying over the killing of their loved ones, we witness extremely irresponsible and immature statements of the chief minister and his cabinet members,” said Khawaja Izharul Hasan.

He added the new IG’s appointment was made with “much media fanfare” but it resulted in a “surge of criminal activities across the province”.

“So we strongly believe that the federal government must take decisive action to curb the bloodshed and restore peace in Karachi. And there’s a need for the Rangers to be granted equal powers throughout the province.”

Senator Faisal Subzwari went a step ahead and suggested Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi to visit Karachi and question the Sindh chief minister over the law and order situation.

“PPP has been ruling this province for the last 16 years. But in 2024 not a single district of the province is safe. From Karachi to Kashmore, people don’t feel safe,” said Senator Subzwari.

“The situation is same from Kashmore to Karachi. Armed gangs of bandits are ruling rural Sindh, and armed bandits are roaming freely in urban areas without any check.”

Over the past few years, street crimes have become a significant challenge for the Sindh government as more than 250 citizens lost their lives after being shot by street criminals in Karachi between 2022 and March 2024.

Similarly, the law and order situation in riverine areas of upper Sindh has also deteriorated, with armed bandits wantonly looting passengers and kidnapping people for ransom.

The situation is expected to result in a larger fallout, as the MQM-P last week threatened to part ways with the PML-N-led coalition government in the Centre if street crimes were not controlled.

PPP dismisses concerns

The PPP, in its reply to MQM-P’s criticism, claimed its rival party was highlighting the issue as part of a “political agenda”.

“Khawaja Izharul Hassan is presenting himself as a spokesman for [Prime Minister] Shehbaz Sharif,” said Sindh Home Minister Ziaul Hasan Lanjar in a statement.

“We strongly believe in our police force’s competence and its leadership. We trust our police force,” the minister said and accused the MQM-P of making the force “controversial”.

“This would only help criminals,” warned Mr Lanjar.

He said the IG was personally leading the operation against armed groups in rural areas and was “present in the riverine area of the province right now”.

“All state institutions are playing their part for peace and writ of the state in the province.”

The minister claimed that such criticism has been MQM-P’s “old modus operandi”.

“All is well when they’re in the government but the moment they’re out, they start crying. The people of Sindh have trusted PPP, and the party won from Karachi and elected its mayor. We wouldn’t let down the people of Karachi,” vowed the minister. “Those who’re playing politics on a serious issue would only be disappointed in the end. Restoring peace and harmony is our responsibility, which we will fulfil,” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2024

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