By Zia Qureshi, Weekly Pulse Magazine, September 16, 2013
Putting an end to lawlessness and bloodshed continuing from years in Karachi is an indispensable national need. Being economic hub of Pakistan, it is the need of the hour that the port city remains peaceful for the economic growth and prosperity of the country.
Unluckily, no effective effort has not been made to ensure peace in the city in the last several years, which has led to escalation in the incidents of kidnapping for ransom, target killings, extortion, loot and plunder on high ways and roads, snatching of purses, mobile phones, cash and valuables, and robberies and dacoits in the residential areas.
There is hardly anyone who or one of his relatives has not fallen victim to any street crime or offence. Besides common man, the traders’ community and industrialists, who play a vital role in bolstering the economic growth of the country, are also adversely affected by the incidents of violence or extortion.
Karachi is depicting the scenes similar to what we usually find in crime related novels or films. Someone opens shop to improve one’s lot, but within no time certain strangers reach there to intimidate him. No one can think of doing any business without the blessing of gangs of criminals. If any business man deviates from this path, he receives a chit whereby he is asked to pay extortion money.
The closer the Eid gets, the more the activities of the extortionists pick up.
Everyone knows who is patronizing the gangs of these extortionists. These gangs are backed by the leaders of mainstream political parties.
During recent years, the city also witnessed surge in the activities of terrorists and militants from some banned outfits, and they have also become involved in crimes such as extortion and kidnapping for ransom.
It is stunning that on one hand the extortionists are gaining strength, but on the other, the operations aimed at eliminating these elements appear to be symbolic only. As many as 630 complaints of extortion of money have been registered so far this year, as against 579 complaints during the last year.
As per media reports, citizens of Karachi pay 830 million rupees on account of black budget to state and non-state elements daily. A sum of Rs10 million is daily collected in the name of parchi and extortion money from about 550 small and large markets of the city.
The war to occupy the city is continuing and blood of the citizens is being spilled by criminals.
Who makes merry on this black budget. The citizens keep mum over this matter for the fear of losing life. Kidnapping for ransom has become the most lucrative offence like bank dacoity during the last few years in the city. Such incidents are not made public due to dreadful price one has to pay following the leakage of such crimes. The traders and business men are forced to pay million of rupees daily on the demand of extortionists. The act of extortion of money contributes share of 50 million rupees to black budget daily.
Parking Mafia has set up over 500 parking lots in the city and it collects Rs240,000 daily from motor cycles owners and car owners daily by dint of force.
Stealing of water is another major source of minting black money in the city. At least Rs100 million are pocketed by selling 272 million gallons stolen water daily. As many as 150 million rupees are collected from over 15,000 gambling and drugs peddling dens.
The land mafia occupied 30,000 acres of state owned land costing 80 billion rupees in a year. A sum of Rs14.80 is extorted from public transport daily. As sum of Rs200 to Rs300 is extorted from ech one of 25000 buses, coaches and wagons daily in the name of “Dhakka wasooli”. Owners of 4,000 ching chi, 20,000 auto rickshaws and 7,000 taxis pay Rs40 each daily to police as jugga tax. An amount ranging between Rs1000 and Rs3000 is extorted from owners of trucks, containers and oil tankers daily.
The spell of target killing and halted business activities in the main trading areas of the city is very dangerous for the future of the country. Only six days business activities take place in important trading areas of the city, including the Old City Area, which have resultantly given Rs4 billion loss to the trade.
Ateeq Meer said that target killing has turned trading centers into battlefields, where price hike, lawlessness, terror and fear rule. The authorities concerned seem least bothered by this alarming situation, while police, rangers and law-enforcement agencies seem helpless.
Prime Minister (PM) Mian Nawaz Sharif visited Karachi a few days ago; he called an All Parties Conference (APC) to exchange views for establishing the peace in Karachi. In the meeting, all parties agreed on the necessity of establishing peace in Karachi as soon as possible.
The PM also addressed industrialists and traders and expressed his determination for restoring peace in the city following the demands of business community. Heads of law-enforcement agencies also assured PM that they are fully prepared for final action.
Now ball is in the court of government; the PM has rightly said that power will be used for establishing the peace in Karachi. But this action should be done in very sensible manner without hurting innocent people. Operation should be limited up to criminals on the basis of information provided by intelligence agencies.