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EDITORIAL: According to media reports and personal accounts, street crime is on the rise in Pakistan, particularly in its urban centres such as Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Although it is not an entirely new development or challenge, as of today it is a symptom of a deeper malaise in our society, stemming from issues of growing inequality, poverty and unemployment.

And, there are also gangs who rule the streets almost unchallenged – their presence in there is as much in agreement with law-enforcing elements as lack of wherewithal to go after them. Take the case of Karachi, the country’s largest urban center, where some statistics claim the rate of street crime has come down from its peak some years back. But it is there nonetheless.

According to the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), Karachi has witnessed an alarming increase in street crime. More alarmingly, people are shot dead by robbers for putting up resistance. During the first three months of the year 2023, more than 21,000 cases were reported, though the number of unreported cases must be much higher.

Robbers took lives of as many as 34 people and injured 150, while the number of incidents of snatching of cars, motorcycles and mobile phones cases crossed the 20,000 mark.

Last year, the robbers had killed 100 people and injured over 4,000. Just what happened on a single day, last Monday, is a fearful account of the growing menace of street crime in the Nation’s Capital. On that very day three persons were robbed in Islamabad-Rawalpindi.

A group of five people came to a grocery store near Golra police station and deprived the shopkeeper of Rs. 400,000. An armed robber entered a house in F-10/2, but by posing mobile phone as pistol the residents forced him to surrender and handed him over to the police. Luckily, the robber was not lynched by the angry residents as sometimes happens in such cases.

Meanwhile, a trader from Sargodha was robbed of Rs 8.4 million by four robbers and an expatriate lady was deprived of 2,400 British pounds and gold jewellery worth over Rs 1 million while traveling from Islamabad International Airport. The plight of people in other urban centers, including Punjab’s capital Lahore, is equally profound.

All of it that happens on the streets ruled by muggers, robbers and gangsters should not happen. But it does. Not only is it an easy way to become rich, it is there because a kind Dickinsonian ambience tends to prevail in today’s Pakistan.

Given the unprecedented rise in inflation, large-scale unemployment and growing hopelessness bred by the national political failure, quite a big chunk of Pakistanis is left with no option but to beg and steal.

It is a kind of inflation-crime nexus in Pakistan, and it plays out on roads, parks and open public places at times by way of mugging on streets and at times in the form of car and bike snatchings, drug dealings, abductions for ransom, and prostitution. Of course, these are crimes and should be severely dealt with by police and courts.

But is it all that should be done to curb this challenge? No, we should go into the causes that have created this demon, and not only by dishing out BISP (Benazir Income Support Programme) handouts, organizing lungers and carrying our distribution of free wheat flour, but by putting the national economy back on its firm footing. And for that the national politics have to be retrieved from its viciously prevalent form of ‘give me power or give me death’.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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KU Apr 09, 2023 11:41am
The same is true for rural areas, farmers have seen growing incidents of robberies, cattle theft, and tractor theft, and surprisingly the local police of these tehsils are not registering the thefts nor pursuing the criminals. People are unemployed and desperate to survive a day, week, and month, but our democratic leaders have no interest in this socioeconomic breakdown.
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Miannawazshit Apr 09, 2023 01:29pm
Poverty, hunger, inequality, joblessness, lack of law !!! Country is ripe for disorder and crime.
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Tulukan Mairandi Apr 09, 2023 02:41pm
This ia horrible. To make matters worse, most are in fact carried out by servicemen with impunity. They, when arrested, say they don't have a choice due to four months unpaid salary. All they wanna do is put food on the table. Desperation and hunger leads people to any extent, a situation prevailing in the country, which explains the lawlessness, which could eventually spiral into balkanization.
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Karachi sux Apr 10, 2023 10:32am
Poverty might be the case but the deeper issue is the destruction of religious and social values - why doesnt an armed robber think that by stealing money and feeding his family, he is earning haram money and there is no barqat in it at all..people have left religion, the land they live in doesnt promote morals, values or consequences and so its a free for all... I feel sad when a mugger shoots an innocent civilian - he has taken a life for money yet dont they fear the Hereafter and God's anger..they exchange the Hereafter for this short, miserable world...
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bonce richard Apr 11, 2023 04:14am
@KU, Bomaby is not too far from Karachi. There is no crime there is no one not snatch cell phones. The law and order situation is controlled by local police. Unfortunately, a lot of weapons smuggled from neighbors.
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