Govt planning to establish more ATCs across province

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A fter taking various steps regarding the Sindh Local Government Ordinance-2000, the Police Order-2002, and reviving Karachi’s five districts and Hyderabad to its original position, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government is now preparing to increase the number of anti-terrorism courts (ATCs) in Sindh, especially in Karachi, to eliminate terrorist activities in the provincial capital.
The government would like to prosecute the accused involved in terrorist activities in the ATCs. According to sources, over 200 target-killers have been arrested by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) during the past five or six months, and these accused have confessed to their crimes. The government and the LEAs are not willing to give them any concession.
According to the Anti-Terrorism Act-1997’s Sections 13 and 14, the government can establish ATCs in any part of the country. There are three ATCs in Karachi at present, two of which are functional. However, one is not functional due to non-appointment of a judge. It is pertinent to mention here that at one time, all three courts were vacant.
The government has decided that cases of around 1,500 Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) activists, who were released on parole in the previous and present governments, would be scrutinised. Intelligence agencies have informed the government that majority of these released activists are involved in criminal activities.
It has also been decided that the department of the City Wardens, which comprises MQM activists, would be abolished because intelligence agencies and political forces, including the PPP, the Awami National Party, the Jamaat-e-Islami and Sindh’s nationalist parties, have serious reservations over this department.
The department was formed by former city nazim Mustafa Kamal through a City Council resolution that, according to legal experts, has no lawful authority to create any new department.
The City Wardens department was first formed under the name of Community Police and 5,000 MQM activists were appointed as employees. Uniforms and vehicles were provided to them. Just like the Sindh Police, the City Wardens also possess wireless sets.
According to sources, the City Wardens have been involved in many incidents of harassing the citizens. Except the MQM, all other political parties had opposed this act at the time. After the formation of the present PPP-led Sindh government, the name of the Community Police was changed to City Wardens.