EDITORIAL: The tall claim made by AIG Police Karachi Khadim Hussain Rind, to deal “strictly” with rising crime in the city, was also made by almost all his predecessors, so the proof of the pudding will lie in the eating.

There’s no doubt, though, that all sorts of crime is once again on the rise in the commercial metropolis, especially kidnapping for ransom, extortion and target killings. That is why his hosts at KCCI (Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry) expressed their concerns at length to him the other day.

Nobody wants to see a repeat of past patterns when some of the city’s leading businessmen were so fed up with constant calls for extortion that some felt forced to relocate; a few of them leaving the country itself.

Surely, nobody should need any reminding that upsetting businesses in the country’s financial hub can have a cascading effect on the larger economy, triggering a crisis of confidence with far reaching consequences.

It’s too soon to tell whether the AIG was right about crime coming down after the departure of 40,000 or so Afghan nationals from Karachi, but something can and should be said about “criminals that are set free by the courts”, as he put it.

It’s no good blaming the judiciary, unless there is clear proof of corruption and/or collusion, because the courts can only act on the evidence provided by investigation that is carried out by the police force. That is why it’s often been argued that law officers should help police officers in making cases against hardened criminals.

Regardless, the business community has genuine reasons for worry, and it is the duty of the police to provide them with the security they need.

They also told him how shopkeepers have once again started receiving the same old threatening calls from the extortion (bhatta) mafia that terrorised the city to no end for the longest time.

Surely, the police know better than anybody else how this menace snowballs if it is not nipped in the bud. And no better place than Karachi to provide ample proof of it.

Hopefully, the AIG also knows that such crime can go on only so long unless criminals have protection from within the police force as well. So, for the cleansing to be thorough, he’ll have to clean the rot from the inside as well.

That, no doubt, will be his toughest task. Especially since he’ll pretty much have to grope in the dark initially, getting officers to investigate and apprehend their colleagues.

Ideally, the police chief would have prepared an action plan before letting the bad guys know he’s coming after them. Otherwise – if the tough talk was made to just suit the occasion – he just gave them time to adjust, which would be bad for the city, the business community that’s crying for his help, and his own career.

It’s a shame that the country’s largest city and the hub of business activity is held hostage to crime and criminals with even the police force struggling to keep it safe and clean. If the police chief is not able to back his words with action, then something much more drastic is going to be required.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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