Protection money: Traders signal willingness to pay extortionists

Published: November 14, 2012
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Say the govt has failed to protect them; their colleagues, however, have refused to relent to growing pressure. DESIGN: CREATIVE COMMON

Say the govt has failed to protect them; their colleagues, however, have refused to relent to growing pressure. DESIGN: CREATIVE COMMON

KARACHI: 

Accepting the parallel existence of extortionists (bhatta mafia) as protectors alongside the law enforcement agencies in Karachi, some traders in the city have decided to pay extortion money to them for protection and security in their respective areas, representatives of trade groups said on Tuesday.

“This step shows that traders think extortionists are more powerful than the government,” All Karachi Tajir Ittehad chief cAtiq Mir said. “The action of some traders proves that they have formally accepted the state within a state in Karachi.”

Mir added: “This is the height of helplessness of traders. They have been crying [about extortionists] for over two years but nobody is listening to them.”

Representatives of different trade bodies said that traders and small businesses were dismayed at the government’s inaction and they have no confidence in the government to provide security.

Mir revealed that some traders met him on Tuesday and informed him that from now on they would regularly pay extortion money ranging from Rs500 to Rs1,000 per shop and gain immunity for themselves. According to him, traders no longer feel that the police and Rangers can protect them. And they had little choice than to reconcile with the idea of extortion.

Some traders are from the old city area – the volatile southern most area of city and some other areas that are situated in the city centre, Mir claimed.

Other traders will not bow down

However, subsequent to this development, other trader groups called their meetings on Tuesday and decided not to pay extortion to the mafia.

“We have decided not to pay a single penny to any group because by doing this we will accept their upper hand in this situation,” Chairman Old City Traders Alliance, Jameel Paracha said. “If we pay them Rs1,000 per shop today, tomorrow they will demand Rs5,000, then who will pay them?” he asked.

Paracha mentioned that around 20 days ago, leading businessmen met Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan and threatened to give a strike call if their grievances were not addressed. But, unfortunately, the government’s action was still limited to words only and there was no security plan on the ground in the most affected areas of the city.

Paracha said that there were over 200 markets in the old city area and the government had recently provided only five policemen to each market, which he said was not enough and the situation would continue to remain unsafe.

This is why traders and businessmen are demanding the government to use the army to deal with the extortionists groups active in Karachi, Paracha concluded.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Maher
    Nov 14, 2012 - 9:43AM

    Who would listen to the traders crying ?? Our so called DEMOCRATIC GOVT or their so called LONG TERM PARTNERS ?? We all know that most of the ruling political parties are behind this business.Recommend

  • Maher
    Nov 14, 2012 - 9:59AM

    Another milestone achieved by our Democratic govt. They delivered what they promised (to each other)

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  • Rahim ALi
    Nov 14, 2012 - 10:13AM

    no other option guys .. if i want my resturant to stay on market i have to pay them .. police and rangers doing nothing … its better if i close my business and wait for election … if IK win .. i m happy to put my business back on track

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Nov 14, 2012 - 10:45AM

    This has proven that PPP’s government has badly badly badly failed in his hub Karachi to provide security to the traders but one achievement PPP has gotten,id est,has made foolproof and increased security for the leaders,bureaucrats and ministers…….
    The PPP government definitely deserves “Nishan-e-Haider” on this its greatest ever achievement…..Recommend

  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Nov 14, 2012 - 11:51AM

    ***@Maher:We all know that most of the ruling political parties are behind this business.***
    I agree with you her on your this stance and this may be possible that the extortionists pay the percentage to the any political party,either in the government or on the opposition’s benches,in the national or provincial assemblies for seeing all this without taking any practical and stern steps and for giving just verbal statements against them on the media and internally supporting them……Recommend

  • think without prejudice
    Nov 14, 2012 - 12:52PM

    Without any prejudice or bias, simply compare Musharraf’s rule where MQM had Home Ministry of Sindh and the current rule where PPP has Home Ministry.

    During every single year in this tenure, more people have died than 10 years under Musharraf combined. We got Kati Pahari incidents I & II, Shershah Market terrorism, Lyari “Aman” Committee, etc. Every 2 days we get murders equivalent to infamous 12th May incident (Kati Pahari bloodshed of 2 days resulted in 5 times the loss of life on 12th May). Every week nowadays is worse than 12th May, people only exploit that incident to tarnish previous regime which gave sustainable peace, speedy development & booming economy to Karachiites.

    Mustafa Kamal should be made Home Minister or Chief Minister. He knows how to handle these issues if given the authority. Army needs to coordinate with local elected representatives and carry out operations in infamous criminal hubs of Lyari, Kati Pahari, Sultanabad, Shireen Jinnah Colony, Orangi Town, Keamari, Shershah, Shah Faisal Colony, Liaquatabad, Maripur, Landhi, Malir and of course Sohrab Goth.

    Recommend

  • Lobster
    Nov 14, 2012 - 2:48PM

    @think without prejudice:
    For your info, MQM is still in government. As far as MQM during Musharraf rule is concerned, it didn’t made long lasting changes like impartial and efficient police, rather it recruited hundreds of its workers in Police. “sustainable peace” you say, do you know meaning of sustainable?

    Recommend

  • Fed up Pakistani
    Nov 14, 2012 - 3:04PM

    No more Democracy please , Army please come in .
    We all have had enuf with all these Political Parties they are ALL involved in Bhatta Mafia .

    Recommend

  • sabir
    Nov 14, 2012 - 4:32PM

    karachi condition will never change it will be normal for some time by military but after some time gangwor men again come from baluchistan/kp fata wazirstan etc but if pakistan divide in states then then situation will normal

    Recommend

  • Logic
    Nov 14, 2012 - 4:41PM

    Congratulations!

    We see the logical step of what should happen when people refuse to pay the government taxes.

    Recommend

  • abdul wahab
    Nov 14, 2012 - 5:01PM

    if the same act was committed by Taliban than it was considered state within state, terrorism and so on. furthermore USA united kingdom and other European countries would condemn it but now the actors are sponsored by Government and above mentioned countries.at the end it is request from the father of justice(chief justice of Pakistan) please kindly give legal status to extortion, in order to charge these charges to customers (jehay murdo ka Pakistan)

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  • ishrat salim
    Nov 14, 2012 - 5:12PM

    @think without prejudice:

    U R right mister…..but who will listen to you…..PPP, MQM & ANP has made the life of people in karachi HELL….coalition partners in crime & killings, the govt is paying them both to keep verbal attacks but no action – just like with respect to drones…..they forget that there is a day called ” day of judgement “….

    Recommend

  • zeeshan sheikh
    Nov 14, 2012 - 6:49PM

    Taliban is behind all this. we need to celeberate malallalalallla day one more time, we need to listen Altaf Bhai’s wisdom more and more and an operation in tribal areas required to end extortion in karachi. Also a resolution is required to declare secular parties like MQM, PPP, ANP as innocent as an angel and progressive.

    Recommend

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