KARACHI: Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik has asked the Karachi police chief to launch a crackdown within the next 48 hours against the extortionists who were successfully running their offices in the Timber Market and collected Rs1,000 from each of the 170 shops every month.
He was speaking to businesspersons at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Monday.
Timber Market Association Chairman Sharjeel Memon earlier asked Malik to take action against the culprits. Malik announced that the government would improve the capacity of city police in the wake of deteriorating law and order.
He said that his ministry will also play its part in improving security conditions in the financial capital of Pakistan.
He said that bringing the city back to order is the biggest challenge for the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) of Karachi.
The interior minister also formed a task force on the occasion, which would monitor law and order situation in the city and meet every month with an aim to eliminate the menace from its root. The task force will comprise officials of Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Rangers, police, four business representatives and two representatives from political parties, he said.
He also announced the establishment of a crisis management cell at the KCCI, which would start functioning from Tuesday afternoon.
The cell would coordinate between the business community and concerned officials. Personnel of Federal Investigation Agency and police would be part of the cell.
Endorsing prominent businessman Siraj Kassam Teli’s views, Malik said that 90 per cent of law and order problems can easily be resolved if the Pakistan Peoples Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Awami National Party join hands to eradicate the problem.
Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Dr Farooq Sattar handed over a list of terrorists to Malik, who were allegedly involved in target killing, kidnapping for ransom and extortion cases, saying that if these terrorists and criminals were arrested then 85 per cent of criminal activities could be removed from the city.
Sattar said that MQM has been monitoring increased terrorist activities in NA-249 and NA-250 constituencies, which have become the two most troubled areas in the city over the last one year.
For the last few months, Sattar said the PPP and the MQM had been holding regular meetings to control law and order situation in the city under the leadership of Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.
He announced the formation of committees at police stations and town levels to check criminal activities and added that there was a great need to find out criminals among themselves.
“All political parties in the city are needed to check criminals among themselves.”
KCCI President Saeed Shafiq warned of giving a strike call if the law and order situation remained the same in coming days.
Law and order is the biggest hurdle in realising the business and investment potential in the city.
Malik assured the business community that the government would provide fool-proof security at any cost and asked them to stay in the city, avoid relocating their business abroad and stop flight of capital from here.
He asked them to show courage and become witnesses in criminal cases. The Sindh Assembly had recently passed a bill to provide protection to witnesses and “we are also trying to get this law approved from the National Assembly as well.”
He said that foreign elements were involved in destroying peace and prosperity in the city and in the country.
He said that cadres of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipa-e-Mohammad were also found involved in terrorist activities in the city.
“The links to the terrorist activities are found from the war, which Afghans fought against the USSR in the 80s.”
He said that the authorities have very recently revised the Anti-Terrorism Act and from now onwards, the pictures of criminals would also be kept in record. Earlier, only thumb impression of criminals was kept in record.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2011.