Karachi's crime malaise

Few cities have as bad a reputation for crime, particularly street crime, as Karachi.

Amna Lone August 18, 2011

Karachi, with a population of nearly 20 million, has its fair share of problems like all other major metropolitans. Its weary residents have had to put up with a multitude of problems, including  a huge slum population, frequent power cuts and poor infrastructure.

However, few cities have as bad a reputation for crime, particularly street crime, as Karachi. Be it mobile snatching, car theft, robberies at ATMs or traffic signals, there will be few Karachiites who do not have some sort of a story to tell of their or their acquaintances’ encounters with street crime.

Many will be quick to attribute this meteoric rise in the crime rate of the city to poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunities and, no doubt, these are important contributing factors to this malaise. However, the poor economic situation alone cannot be held responsible for the dismal state of affairs.

Youngsters from highly affluent families have also been found involved in criminal activities, which points to serious parental neglect and a breakdown of social and moral values. Our society has turned into a highly materialistic one with a thirst for high living and a desire to make a quick buck at all cost, whether the means are right or wrong. Not to be discounted is the role of some political parties of the city that seem to have allowed their workers the liberty to engage in these activities as a part-time hobby.

Added to this is the police force in Karachi, which is worthy of pity. A highly underpaid, grossly under-staffed but extremely overworked police isn’t the ideal way of going about fighting crime. Theirs is a thankless job guarding VVIPs and dealing with target killings and gang warfare, leaving only limited numbers of them to investigate street crimes i.e. if some of them are not already complicit in them.

As things stand today, street crime and the occasional deaths it may result in, are not going away anywhere. The citizenry of this metropolitan have accepted it as a fait accompli and, therefore, must pay the price for it.

Amna Lone A sub-editor for The Express Tribune’s editorial pages.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Riaz Ahmed | 12 years ago | Reply Nothing new....
Syed Tariq Askari | 12 years ago | Reply Much has been written over the Karachi dilemma and much in the pipe line, I believe but I have never seen a piece of writing from this young generation who could unfold the other facts associated with Karachi past and present situation. 1.Karachi is the cosmopolitan city with a population of 20 millions (as per note of writer) and by giving a status of cosmopolitan city, it must be acknowledged by state levers that all cosmopolitan cities in the world have different dynamics comparing with non-cosmopolitan cities. This is the very first and foremost fact which can help to determine future line of action. So different system and approach is adopted for cosmopolitan cities in the world as we observe in Tokyo, Frankfurt and Mumbai (many left in the list). 2.The second big issue is the unity of command. Nearly 11 different bodies of federal and provincial running the affairs of the city. I do not want to indulge myself into explaining the “unity of command” approach as the young generation is well familiar with this particular management term. Having no unity of command always resulted into accountability issue as no one come forward to accept the fault, the same happened with Karachi over different times when crises emerged. 3.MQM & Jamat e Islami, big stake holders of the city, having massive street power with no state power can bring a good change if given authority. Authority brings responsibility and if they are supposed to be held responsible over their actions they will definitely produce good results and they are capable enough as both have exhibited a great show in 2004-2008 and 2001-2004 respectively. Might be many facts left to be unfold, but at least using each and every platform in discussing Karachi dilemma may lead to some change of mind set of readers and state levers.
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