A complex situation
THE gravity of the security situation in Karachi is clear to all. Several deaths a day, whether due to sectarian, ethnic, political or criminal activity, have become a depressing routine. All too often the city finds itself shutting down out of sheer fear when some party or the other puts out a strike call. The crime rate, meanwhile, remains unacceptably high in the country’s largest metropolis, where paramilitary forces are deployed on a regular basis. Do the police and other law enforcement leaderships have a plan to counter the situation? Perhaps not, judging from the answers provided by senior police officials to questions posed by a bench of the Supreme Court in Karachi on Friday. At the hearing on the Karachi killings case, it was pointed out that some 400 under-trial policemen are currently on duty. Similarly, the bench observed that it had earlier asked Nadra and the IG police to set up a joint cell to identify illegal immigrants that law enforcement agencies often simplistically blame for violence in the city. This has not been done. Indeed, beyond promises of investigations and inquiries, few meaningful moves have been in evidence.
While the law enforcement agencies must certainly, and urgently, do more, so must other groups, including political and religious parties. The reasons behind organised violence in Karachi are complex, and the combined failure of the police and the lawmakers has led to a situation where new, more lethal groups continue to crop up. Experience has dictated that when there is agreement among the leaderships of political, religious and other groups to ensure peace in the city, organised violence is minimal. Such a lasting agreement, with focus on political, sectarian and ethnic concerns, is what it will take to free the city from being held hostage to violence. The Supreme Court could help by giving firmer guidelines, and law enforcement agencies need to step up to the challenge. But ultimately, it is political and other stakeholders who hold the key to a peaceful Karachi. Tragically, going by past experience, it is unlikely they will use it anytime soon.