KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain says people must step up to protect themselves given the harrowing and dangerous conditions in Pakistan.
The call for self-defence came as Altaf Hussain expressed concern at the increase in the number of terrorist activities and cases of robberies, vehicle thefts, street crimes, extortion and kidnapping being recorded countrywide. In the past week, one MQM activist and his brother was killed and two others injured in PIB Colony. Three Awami National Party workers have also died in targeted killings. The MQM has also spent a considerable part of the past month sounding alarm bells over cases of extortion in Karachi.
“At some points it becomes important for people to bear a burden for the sake of their security,” he said. The MQM chief has offered a number of suggestions to Pakistanis to help deter crime in their areas. He appealed to people to form vigilance committees in every lane, neighbourhood and in small and main markets.
In a detailed statement issued on Friday with suggestions for neighbourhood security, Altaf Hussain said that these vigilance teams should have a “strong alarm system that can alert the lane and neighbourhood in the case of any danger or if a robber is in the area.” He believes that people need to defend themselves. “In front of every lane there are at last ten houses on each side. If there are teams of five that do an eight-hour shift for these 20 houses, then the rotation of one person from the vigilance team can be every five days.”
Along with an alarm system, Altaf Hussain suggested that the vigilance teams can surround any criminal in the area and should have whistles similar to those scouts and civil defence staff have, and can alert the police and other law enforcement agencies to take the criminal(s) into custody.
Hussain has asked people that since they have responded to his appeals in the past, they should try out his suggestions for a week and see the results for themselves.
The MQM’s Wasay Jalil said that Altaf Hussain’s call is because of the rise in crime, and the tried-and-tested efforts by the MQM in 2007 and 2009 of initiating neighbourhood watches. “The MQM supporters and workers are already doing this and there are law enforcement agencies, but society needs to step up because these crimes are in societies and neighbourhoods,” Jalil said.
The MQM chief has also repeatedly asked the president and prime minister to look into the security conditions of Karachi. In a phone conversation on Thursday, President Asif Ali Zardari reassured Altaf Hussain that he will call a meeting in Karachi soon on the city’s security situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2012.