Sindh lawlessness

Published June 15, 2024

DESPITE commitments from both the federal and provincial authorities to address the situation, lawlessness in Sindh remains a chronic problem.

In the cities, primarily Karachi, street crime poses a mortal danger to citizens, whereas in the hinterland, particularly the northern districts, kidnappings are rampant, and de facto dacoit raj prevails. Focusing on last year’s data, a recently released report, State of Human Rights in Sindh, compiled by HRCP, sheds further light on the problem.

As the title suggests, the report discusses various rights issues, such as enforced disappearances, labour and minority rights violations as well as the crime scenario. The document describes the law and order situation in Karachi as “worryingly poor”. It observes that in 2023, incidents of street crime in the Sindh capital rose by about 11pc. Over 90,000 street crime incidents were reported last year, as per official figures, and 134 people in the city lost their lives during muggings. The number of incidents of motorcycle, vehicle and mobile phone theft were also in the tens of thousands. As for the hinterland, the HRCP report says that dacoits operated “unhindered” in Ghotki, Shikarpur and Kashmore, with kidnapping for ransom widespread in the katcha area.

With regard to other rights violations mentioned in the report, particularly enforced disappearances, these are nationwide problems, something beyond any provincial government’s remit.

However, when it comes to crime, be it in the cities or rural districts, the PPP-led Sindh government has much to answer for. The party has been running Sindh since 2008, yet the aforementioned figures speak of its poor performance where maintaining the rule of law is concerned. When questioned about their half-hearted crackdown against criminal elements, provincial authorities prefer to beat about the bush, and promise that better days are on the horizon.

Regrettably, these ‘better days’ have not arrived, even though the PPP has been in the saddle for 16 years running. Extensive reforms are required within the Sindh Police, to free the force from political influence and weed out corrupt elements that patronise crime. A starting point can be the implementation of the Musharraf-era Police Order, 2002.

PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari recently told his lieutenants in Sindh to ‘pull up their socks’. This exercise can begin by improving law and order across the province, and cracking down on unfettered criminal activity.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2024

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