Targeted operation: 220 arrested with no end in sight

Though hundreds have been arrested, the authorities are unsure about the enemy’s strength.

Faraz Khan August 26, 2011

KARACHI: Police and Rangers have detained about 220 suspects in ongoing overnight and broad-daylight targeted operations in troubled parts of the city in three days.

Officials said cases against these suspects who belong to various ethnicities, political and religious groups as well as criminal gangs are being booked.

The suspects are being questioned at police stations and Rangers wings but neither was willing to divulge any details of the progress. Sources said that intelligence operatives were also providing information.  The operation began in a rather jerky manner in the early hours of August 24.

Law enforcers planned to start with Lyari but were forced to retreat before they could start searching when armed gangsters and residents put up a resistance. Rangers said that they cordoned-off the area in an attempt to distract the criminals.

Operations have been launched in over 20 parts of the city and law enforcers claim to have recovered vehicles, weapons, ammunition and narcotics from the apprehended suspects. About 50 violence-stricken areas remain.

The operation is open-ended and the authorities will continue to scour the areas until no more cases of violence are reported, Additional IG Saud Mirza explained.

“We are not targetting any specific area,” Mirza told The Express Tribune. “We are conducting operations in all the areas from where violence has been reported and they will not stop until the violence does.”

He said that hundreds of people were taken into custody during the operations but most of them were released after they were found innocent. Approximately 200 suspects are still in the police custody and have had cases registered against them for criminal activities.

Pashtun, Mohajir, Punjabi, Sindhi, Siraiki, Baloch are all among the apprehended suspects and some of them are associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Awami National Party, Sunni Tehreek and a banned outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. Some are also from land, extortion and drug mafias. “To us, they are all criminals, no matter which party they’re from,” declared Mirza.

The Karachi police chief accredits the search operation’s good luck thus far to “efficient strategy” as the law enforcers have yet to face retaliation from the men they are after.

The Pakistan Rangers have done their part. Their Sindh spokesperson said that they have 34 suspects in custody, 14 were handed over to the police so that their cases could be registered. The remainder were detained on Friday and will be sent to the police later.

Meanwhile, not everyone is convinced that things are in full swing. A police official said that arresting target killers is not the primary goal at the moment.

“This is not an operation, but a preparation for an operation,” he explained. “Right now, arresting people is not our priority, we just want to go to the areas and see who has how much clout in the area.”

They are assessing the groups’ power to retaliate, their strength, their weapons, ammunition and what exactly they have hidden inside their territories.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th,  2011.