Karachi once known as the city of lights has now slipped into the pit of terrorism. Over the years, multiple power houses including groups, individuals and political parties have claimed its authority. But unfortunately, none could prevent it from the plague of target killing, kidnappings for ransom, extortion, gang-wars and worsening law and order conditions.
As per the statistics collected, an average of nine persons got killed due to the incidents of target killings on daily basis and monthly around 127 fall prey to target killing with the highest of all was 200 killings in a month.
This daunting number of murders by unidentified miscreants has drawn attention of the international community, federal and provincial government alike. The government machinery has come to action and the law enforcement agencies (LAEs) are carrying out targeted operations against the ever-growing lawlessness to ensure durable peace in different areas of the metropolis. Everyday, Sindh Police and Rangers are conducting separate and joint operations in different localities to arrest militants and in doing so they have been successful in arresting hundreds of alleged terrorists. Many a militants have died in cross fire and several law enforcers have embraced martyrdom.
Since the launch of this operation, at least 5,000 criminals were arrested jointly by the Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and the Karachi Police, however, the official data clearly mentions that out of these arrested criminals more than 3,000 have been freed due to unavailability of solid proofs.
Before the launch of the targeted operation in September 5, 2013, crimes of various natures such as targeted killings, kidnapping for ransom, bhatta mafia, land mafia, existence of strong terrorist gangs and infiltration of banned outfits – Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) etc were terrorizing the citizens. The well-trained criminals of the banned outfits TTP, LeJ and other splinter groups infiltrated the city, mainly in the Ittehad Town of Manghopir area, Kanwari Colony, Gulshan-e-Buner of Landhi, Sohrab Goth, and New Karachi Industrial Area.
But, soon after coming into power, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government showed major concern over this issue and brain stormed to launch multiple plans to gauge this security crisis.
According to Rangers officials, the Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) during raids apprehended at least 699 criminals in 650 targeted operations in different parts of the city. The arrested included 123 extortionists, 95 target killers, 9 most wanted criminals who would be trailed under the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) and six from the gangs involved in kidnapping for ransom.
Furthermore, in this period some 9 encounters took place in which 17 terrorists and two Rangers personnel embraced martyrdom while four kidnappees were also recovered, and seized 1,324 sophisticated arms like LMGs, SMGs, Pashpapa, short guns, bulletproof jackets and ammunition.
In the mean time, the police on the other hand, also conducted more than 500 raids and held 4,300 criminals ranging from target killers to the drug peddlers.
According to Rangers and police sources, majority of the alleged target killers belonged to the Muttehida Qaumi Movement (MQM), while there are also some reports claiming the involvement of other political parties i.e. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP).
The sources opined that the pandora box was actually opened when the law enforcers arrested the killer of Superintendent of Police (SP) DIG East Range Shah Muhammad. The police apprehended a suspect Aijaz Jakhrani from Korangi area, on his tip the police approached Shujat Hashmi wanted by police in more than 80 murders on ethics grounds.
While keeping ahead the crackdown against the criminals, the Rangers party raided a sector office of the MQM in Korangi where the weapons, particularly the LMGs being used by the Indian Army, were recovered in huge quantity. In reaction to the arrests, the MQM leadership came on television screens making a hue and cry of being one-sidedly targeted in the operation.
In further development, it was for the first time in Pakistan’s history that the Karachi CCPO Shahid Hayat along with other Rangers senior officers held a joint press conference calling out the names of the target killers from MQM and other terrorist organisations.
In another operation on the cue of Intelligence Bureau (IB) and ISI, the law enforcers conducted an operation in a graveyard in Mehmoodabad Colony and New Karachi from where huge cache of arms and ammunition were recovered. It was later confirmed that the arms were of the NATO supplies that had gone missing from the twin ports.
LYARI PARDONED DUE TO LG POLLS:
On the other hand, Lyari remains a safe haven for terrorists, neither the ruling PPP-led Sindh government nor the federal government wanted to get involved, as gang-war criminals of this area could play a major role in the upcoming Local Government elections.
A committee headed by SP Faisal Bashir Memon comprising the officials of LAEs, with no prior experience of conducting raids, counter terrorism, warfare etc was inducted into the police force. As a result of which, from September 5, at least 32 people were killed and 50 seriously wounded in Lyari alone that clearly reflect that the politics was being done in this area and the two gangs headed by Uzair Jan Baloch and Baba Ladla were enjoying the political support from different political parties.
HOME DEPT’S EFFORTS:
The provincial government took another step and Sindh’s home department with Rs 30.5 million advertisement campaign requested people to voluntarily surrender their illegal weapons to the concerned offices of commissioners and deputy commissioners. But this scheme miserably met its end as only 18 weapons were surrendered. In yet another plan, the Sindh’s home department sought details of the arms purchase from the 60 licensed arms dealers. However, only two arms dealers have so far submitted their monthly report while the rest did not bother to comply with the notice period, the sources added.
According to Sindh Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah, the targeted operation was in full swing and will continue till the restoration of peace on permanent basis.
To a query about the success of the operation, the ACS was hopeful that the fruit of the operation will be positive, however, it will take little time.
The Rangers spokesman, Colonel Sabtain said that the LAEs were carrying out indiscriminate action against the criminals to bring in durable peace in the metropolis. More than 700 criminals have so far been nabbed in over 660 targeted operations in different areas of the city. A huge quantity of illegal weapons including LMGs, SMGs, Pashpapa, short guns, bulletproof jackets and ammunition were also recovered.
Though people may see their efforts as ‘success’ but unfortunately, the official facts and figures are telling a different story.
POLITICAL PARTIES’ STANCE ON KARACHI OPERATION:
Sindh Minister for Information and Archives and Local Government Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Sharjeel Inam Memon said that the ongoing targeted operation will continue even for years till the elimination of the last criminal. The mess in Karachi is 25 to 30 years old, which could not be cleared in a span of merely few weeks or few months, he said, but the Sindh government was committed to restore peace at any cost. The Rangers and police were working against terrorists, despite all unfavorable challenges. Sharjeel said that the LEAs conducted numerous raids in the troubled locality of Lyari as police and Rangers always sprung into action and conducted raids whenever they get any intelligence report about the presence of criminals in Lyari and for that matter in any part of the city.
The MQM’s Coordination Committee member Ameenul Haq said that his party had always extended support to the federal as well as provincial government to deal with the criminals iron handedly. However, MQM will not allow violation of fundamental rights of common citizens by the law enforcers.
“The law enforcers cordoned-off the whole area, picked up 25 people by declaring them criminals, subject them to torture and then release 22 of them. MQM has always demanded that the operation be conducted without any discrimination, caste, religion and political affiliation, Ameenul Haq said.
Sindh PML-N leader MPA Irfanullah Marwat said that his party had launched the targeted operation by extending cooperation with the PPP government. The Sindh chief minister has been the captain of the entire operation, adding that the LAEs should accelerate the pace of operation so that the smaller number of killing could be brought to an end, he added.
ANP’s Bashir Jan said that the extremist elements were still operating in the Pashtun-dominated areas of the city and the party leadership fear for their lives.
Referring to the threat calls being given to ANP leaders, he said the rangers and police must keep the operation on fast pace. The overall situation must be brought under control before the holding of Local Government elections, he said.