The chief of Karachi’s police and two other top bureaucrats are a whisker away from contempt.
They failed miserably to answer any of the questions raised by the Supreme Court on Friday on exactly what they had done to tackle Karachi’s violence.
In measured tones, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja leaned forward to stress calmly but firmly at least ten times during Friday’s hearing that the police chief had not done what the court had said.
“We are going to initiate proceedings against those responsible for non-compliance of our order,” Justice Khawaja warned.
There is a lot of verbiage, but practically nothing has been done on the ground in 13 months, the judges repeatedly said, their patience appearing to wear thin as point after point was met with silence, head shaking, digression and excuses.
Justices Khawaja, Khilji Arif Hussain, Sarmad Jalal Osmany and Amir Hani Muslim were hearing a petition filed by Senator Haji Adil Khan. He has asked why Waseem Ahmed, the additional chief secretary for the home department, Inspector General Fayyaz Leghari and Chief Secretary Raja Muhammad Abbas should not be held in contempt for ignoring court orders.
Ahmed and Leghari sat together in the packed courtroom at the Karachi registry where police officers scurried back and forth with files and reports as the judges unleashed a barrage of questions.
The judges were told that the law enforcers were being killed in response to action taken against criminals – this, the police had hoped would be proof enough that they were making some progress.
“We feel pain for them,” remarked Justice Khilji before sternly saying, “But your daaman has been stained with the blood of those policemen.”
IG Leghari said that Karachi had as many as 1.4 million illegal migrants, including 1.2 million Afghan refugees and that the police and National Aliens Registration Authority were working on the issue. But the prime minister had given Afghans a six-month extension before returning to Afghanistan.
But the judges were not buying this. They had given the police and NARA one year to address the problem. How was it possible that any foreigner could come in to Karachi and commit a terrorist act? Deputy Attorney General Javed Farooqui admitted he was not aware of any progress. The angry judges asked him to immediately summon NARA’s director-general. He failed to show up.
When the judges wanted the federal and provincial government officers to tell them what had been done to stop the influx of the Taliban into Karachi all they got in response was an answer that mentioned yet another team had been formed. It is highly regrettable, the judges noted, that neither was the federal government helping the Sindh government nor had it bothered to file any report.
Waseem Ahmed answered that reports of only 15 judicial inquiries conducted into the Karachi law and order cases were tracked from his department. He was unaware of any inquiries conducted since 1986. This did not satisfy the judges.
Protection for businesses
Advocate General Abdul Fattah Malik mentioned that special cells were set up on extortion.
They had given more men to protect congested commercial areas as well.
“But all of this was done after [businesses] went on protests and strikes,” Justice Hani silenced him.
A pained Justice Khilji remarked that businessmen were taking their investment to Canada, Malaysia, Bangladesh because of the violence in Karachi, resulting in a loss of local jobs.
“There was a time when our children used to travel to Hyderabad fearlessly,” he went on to say. Now people get worried whenever their children leave home.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2013.