Climate of fear
NOT that it has been addressed in the way it needs to be, but at least politically motivated and high-level organised crime in Karachi is reported. What go unmentioned are the day-to-day muggings that have now claimed so many victims among us. Most Karachi residents are able to name several friends and relatives who have had their belongings stolen at gunpoint, so they consider it only a matter of time before they too are targeted. And they know they won’t be able to resist in the face of armed robbers, especially while stopping at traffic lights or getting stuck in traffic jams. They are sitting ducks when thieves tap on their windows with their guns, even in broad daylight. Nor is there justice to be had after the event; police are either unable to track down perpetrators or are reluctant to record the crimes for fear of worsening the criminal record in their jurisdictions. And citizens are more than happy not to register complaints, not wanting to get involved in investigations that they do not believe will deliver justice.
Together these factors have created a climate of fear that haunts all residents of Karachi, who have had to adapt to this fact of life in any number of ways. From carrying decoy cellphones and avoiding carrying cash to thinking twice about venturing out after dark and having to avoid certain roads and areas, they have developed new, more constrained lives in response to a threat that seems inescapable. Most frustrating is the knowledge that nothing much will change until there is a transformation in larger social realities, such as the availability of weapons in the city or unemployment. And that is nowhere on the horizon.