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EDITORIAL: Street crime refers to crime such as vandalism, car theft and mugging that are usually committed outdoor. After the apocalyptic flooding in the country, the most common news items on electronic media of Pakistan these days are about the cases of mugging and theft in the country’s mega metropolis, Karachi.

There is a sudden spike in the cases of pick-pocketing in this city of teeming millions as well. You see firsthand how the muggers deprive people of their wallets and mobile phones at gunpoint. Meanwhile, the muggers’ accomplices forcefully snatch cars and motorbikes. Here we are strictly talking about what happens on the streets only.

As the MQM-P deputy convener Khawaja Izharul Hassan was condemning the Karachi police chief’s statement on crime situation in city at a media encounter this past Sunday, the muggers were at their job. On Sunday, three persons were reportedly hurt resisting robberies.

Police said that armed robbers fired at Sadiq Noor when he resisted them near main Qasba Morr. In Korangi, Abdul Aziz was shot at and wounded by armed dacoits as he offered resistance and Ayaz Shabbir was shot at and wounded as he too resisted the armed robbery. All three of them are now in different hospitals.

Mugging and pick-pocketing are a roaring business in today’s Karachi. According to a report, during the current year, 56,500 cases of street crime took place in Karachi — 19,000 mobile phones were snatched, 104 cars were forcefully taken away and 35,000 citizens were deprived of their motorbikes.

That most of the criminals are local residents can be a valid argument or claim but the question is whether the “Karachiites” are their “own enemy” in accordance with the city police chief’s controversial assertion.

At a function of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Additional Inspector General of Police Javed Odho had rejected reports of an increase in street crime cases in the city and alleged that the ‘business community first spread sensation and then lamented that no one was investing in the city’. “With this statement, you have given a clean chit to all criminals in Karachi,” retorted Khwaja Izharul Hassan, adding that police official’s remark sounds like a political statement.

In other words, not only did he question the performance of police, he also complained that presently the law enforcers and courts alike are inadequate to effectively counter the rising menace of street crime.

He said that “there should be more courts like the ATCs to prosecute the suspects of street crimes,” demanding issuance of arms licences to the people of Karachi for their personal security. There may be a political angle to what Khwaja Izhar said, but the fact cannot be denied that peaceful outing in today’s Karachi is an extremely risky proposition.

What Karachi faces today is not something which doesn’t or didn’t happen anywhere else in the world. But their city fathers worked harder to discover and analyse factors that prompted and promoted street criminality - both in terms of physical control and socio-economic management - to arrive at some sustainable solutions.

They invested in making physical environment less conducive to criminal activity by ensuring, among other things, effective monitoring through public surveillance cameras and well-lighted streets.

We may not have special courts as there is sufficient law on the statute book to deal with street crime but there should be an incisive look into the causes that turn the otherwise peaceful persons into street criminals.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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