ISLAMABAD: Bosses of Karachi police admitted in the Supreme Court on Friday that their men lacked the ‘will’ to combat the growing number of militants and gangsters in the city because of sluggish follow-up of the cases of their colleagues who had been killed by criminals.
The will was weak because cases of the killing of policemen were not followed up, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Karachi West Zafar Abbas Bukhari said, adding that 162 policemen had lost their lives in different operations but only three killers could be arrested.
But he said the situation was now improving with the removal of the ‘political umbrella’.
A five-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry hearing the implementation of the SC verdict in the law and order case asked the Karachi police to either reject or accept a news report in an English daily which appeared with graphics highlighting the localities which were still “no-go areas”.
According to the report, there are 13 no-go areas because of the presence of militants or gangsters and 29 have become no-go areas for people of a particular ethnicity at the time of ethnic violence.
The chief justice recalled that both the Rangers and the Sindh IG had categorically stated during proceedings in Karachi that there were no ‘no-go areas’ in Lyari. Why there was no cessation of criminal activities if Lyari had been cleared of all outlaws, he asked.
“Dearth in tracing the killers of their fellow colleagues will really make police demoralised,” said Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, a member of the bench, adding that they would do nothing if disheartened. There was a difficult situation, but police could not absolve themselves of the blame, he said.
Justice Amir Hani Muslim said one of the reasons was dishonest investigation and lack of concrete evidence.
DIG Bukhari said when he was DIG Special Branch in 2011 he had informed the authorities concerned about the influx in Karachi of a large number of militants belonging to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), but no-one had taken the threat seriously.
“Now the situation has come to a stage where we need time and resources to handle the TTP.”
SSP Central Amir Farooqi said that areas around Manghopir and Sohrab Goth were hideouts of criminals and about 150 to 200 militants, including those belonging to the TTP, were active there. Whenever police launched an operation the miscreants fled to adjoining areas, he said. He pointed out in guarded language about a few political connotations in some pockets. But he said there were now increased activities by police and the Rangers.
“That is why we always emphasise about reviving the local government system to resolve issues locally,” the chief justice observed.
DIG Bukhari first denied but later admitted that there were no-go areas in Karachi and explained that every pocket had its own dynamics. He said information in the news report was five months old and the situation was different now. “This is evident from the fact that a recent polio campaign remained successful without any mishap.”
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain regretted that nobody could enter Shanti Nagar and Dalmia areas located across the Naval Base without any fear for his life. “Half-hearted police operations with early withdrawal from the troubled areas always encourage criminals to continue to rule,” he observed.
The court directed the Sindh IG to ask the SPs, DSPs and SHOs to testify the contents of the news report. If they denied the report they must explain why crime rates in their areas were increasing and if they acceded to it they should disclose why the police force was not able to control law and order, the court said in its order.
The director general of Rangers is required to submit a report on the no-go areas, completely or partially. He had emphatically taken a stand at the last hearing that there was no no-go area in Lyari.
The bench directed all law enforcement agencies to effectively abolish the no-go areas within the period earlier granted by the court.
“There is no room for any excuse; it’s a matter of life and death of the citizens,” Justice Jawwad observed.
The next hearing will be held in Karachi on April 4.