South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

Alarming bells over Karachi situation
Dr Raja Muhammad Khan

The worsening law and order situation in Karachi has finally alerted the national leadership. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Karachi on February 16, 2015 and attended a high level briefing on security in Corps Headquarters. The meeting was also attended by Army Chief and DG ISI. Following this briefing, the Premier issued some directives to the Sindh Government for improving the law and order situation.

The Army Chief particularly emphasized that, in order to improve the law and order situation in Sindh and particularly in Karachi, the police will have to be depoliticized. For this purpose, the postings and transfers of police officers will have to be on the basis of their expertise and efficiency, rather their likings by politicians. It is expected that, Federal Government will take a firm stance and Sindh Govt will take all measures to restore the law and order situation in the city and even other areas too.
The situation in Karachi can best be described through a theory of social sciences. In this regards, it is worth mentioning that, in 1982, two US social scientists; James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling through their joint effort conceptualized a new social theory, namely ‘The Broken Window Theory’. The philosophy behind the “The Broken Window Theory” is that, “if things are left in a dilapidated state with no particular treatment, the situation may get rampantly dicey.” Therefore, in order to improve the environment, it is paramount to deal with smaller problems like broken windows and vandalism. The theory has ‘zero tolerance’ for crime, whether grand or petty.
The theory can be explained briefly through two examples. One; consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Two; Consider a pavement. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.
Indeed, this is a criminological theory of the norm-setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crimes and anti-social behavior. It further delves that, “maintaining and monitoring urban environment to prevent small crimes such as vandalism, public drinking and toll-jumping helps to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes from happening.”
For the third consecutive decade, the people of Karachi, the only metropolitan city of Pakistan, are facing worst law and order situation, emanating from extortion, ransom, murder and ethnic/ sectarian killings. Indeed, these are the various faces of extremism and terrorism, facing the state of Pakistan. Whereas, for the people of Pakistan, the term terrorism was formally known after 9/11 or after the TTP and its predecessors unleashed their brutalities in FATA and surrounding areas, but, the reality is that, in Pakistan terrorism started somewhere in the late 1980s in Karachi, where a particular group terrorized and tortured, those who were opposing their philosophy and ideology.
The Joint Investigation Team consisting of all major branches of Pakistani intelligence and security agencies came to the conclusion that, the Baldia Town garment factory was torched by a hard core member of the militant wing of the same party, after refusal of the demanded amount of extortion money. The incident burnt alive, 259 innocent workers including women and children. Indeed, this is not the first time that, a factory was torched and workers were killed for the extortion (bhatta), but, hundreds of thousands of such like incidents happened in last almost three decades. Indeed, those business men who refuse to pay extortion get killed in matter of hours and no one is ready to give evidence, as those who do that, they are killed too.
Today, media is the most powerful group in Pakistan. Practically, it is more powerful then the executive and judiciary, who too are afraid of media. But, media is afraid of this Karachi based organization, turned political, after an indecent and ruthless beginning. Indeed, Pakistani media can thrash the Premium intelligence agency ISI and Pak Army, but cannot utter a word against this organization. They can accuse ISI chief and Army but they cannot talk about the killers of their own journalists like Wali Baber. What to talk of Wali Baber, even the witnesses of this case were also killed in Karachi.
This organization and its Chairman, sitting thousands of miles away, in a European country rejected the JIT report, altogether and even disowned this hardcore worker, involved in this heinous crime. Indeed, through target killing, all those personnel of police and other law enforcement agencies, who were part of Karachi operation-1992, have been killed one by one and there is no action against taken against the killers. Whereas, President Musharraf gets the discredit of reviving this organization once it was dying in late 1990s and early 2000, the successive political forces gets equal share for having political alliance with this ethnic based organization, for their political gains. Indeed, over the years, other political parties, too made their militant wings, which also terrorized the people and collected bhatta for their leadership, now accumulated in the banks of many Middle Eastern states or European countries.
Slowly and gradually, the element of violence has deeply impacted the Pakistani society. Indeed, today, we find a series of organized crimes in various parts of the Karachi, which indeed have spilled over to other parts of the country. The origin of this all is Karachi, but, I have no hesitation in saying that, today almost all major political parties are involved in these crimes in one way or the other. If some political party or its leadership is not directly part of bhatta collection, ransom, land grabbing, exploitation and ethnic/ sectarian killings, why don’t they raise their voices or take action against the criminals, once in power. There is always a political bargaining, which provide a blanket shelter and immunity for the criminals, who otherwise are the workers of all political forces.
It is high time and particularly after the Baldia Town incident, the people of Pakistan are more worried being more aware and wise about the criminals and their political backings. These terrorists are indeed, more dangerous then the TTP and religiously motivated organizations. Let us stop killing the people of Pakistan on the ethnic basis and for the extortion and ransom. The Pakistani money should not be transferred into other countries by political and ethic forces. We can feel the alarm bells ringing all around the country and Karachi is the worst sufferer. The Government must play the role, it has been mandated to put the lives of the people at ease and protest them too without making comprise on the political basis.