Chalo Karachi Chalo

Maybe some day the prime minister will also get time to visit Karachi.

Kamal Siddiqi July 21, 2013
The writer is Editor of The Express Tribune

Welcome interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Finally you have found time out of your busy schedule to come to Karachi, the biggest city in Pakistan and the country’s commercial capital hence the biggest source for federal taxes. At least you have decided to come, be it for the first time after several weeks of assuming your office. Maybe some day the prime minister will also get time to visit Karachi. After all, he has been to China. And we won’t talk about the disaster his visit to Faisalabad was.

We are told you are visiting Karachi in response to the current security situation here. As is expected, you will be given briefings by the high and the mighty, many of who are equally clueless about the on-ground situation. You will meet the home secretary, the chiefs of police, the Rangers, possibly the army high command and of course the chief minister. The MQM says that so far they have no intimation about your meeting them.

First piece of advice: let bygones be bygones. Forget the exchanges you had with Karachi based parties in the past and start afresh. Meet everyone, but do your own homework. The issue of Lyari will also be raised. Lyari is the symptom of a bigger problem – the patronage of criminals by political parties.

Businessmen will talk to you about Bhatta. And street crime. Both are a menace for people of Karachi. At the same time, both are possible because powerful quarters patronize them. Compare the number of bhatta and street crimes with the number of arrests and convictions. You will have your answer.

You will be told about high handedness of the Rangers and the police. The police in Karachi is a mafia in itself. You see policemen on street corners extracting money from the poor and the helpless. They are the biggest Bhatta collectors in the city. There is no merit in their appointments, transfers and postings. But you will be told not to interfere as it is a provincial subject.

You will be equally helpless as far as fixing the city’s traffic is concerned, which also comes under the purview of the provincial government. The Lahore and Islamabad traffic police is much better. But all attempts at reforming the Karachi traffic have been resisted because of the billions that are extracted.

The Rangers are a peripheral force. Like the police, they are also outsiders. There are almost no Karachi-ites within their ranks. They aid the police as and when their officers decide to. In most instances they do almost nothing. For the average tax-paying Karachi-wallah, they are seen as a problem, not as a solution.

Despite being interior minister – one of the most powerful positions in the country, there are areas you will unable to visit in the city. This include Lyari and Mangopir, where militants have control. But there are many places you can visit. For example, go to the passport office and see how the immigration and passport wing functions. Hundreds of people have to wait hours in the sun to be told that their passports are not ready. And there is nowhere to complain against this poor service.

The FIA immigration wing is a story in itself. On good days, all the staff does is protocol work at the airport and slipping illegal immigrants to other countries. You are not from Gujrat. Maybe you can go after the agents who facilitate this trade.

The FIA’s other port of call is its cyber crime and the financial crimes circle. You need to only ask what they have done in the past five years. How many crimes have they unearthed and whether they have a system to redress complaints from the public. It is a dumping ground for good officers.

Tickle your curiosity. Find out how many gun licences have been issued in the past couple of years in Karachi alone.  While you are at it, find out many how many private security agencies operate in the city and of which how many are properly registered and what action has been taken against those that operate without a licence. These are all questions you need to start with. They will ensure quick follow up visits for you in days to come.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd,  2013.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.


kashif dada | 10 years ago | Reply

the solution is as obvious as a daylight, crackdown on all political parties cum mafias namely MQM, PPP, Sunni Tehrik, ANP, Jiyay Sindh, as long as govt can do that there will be LONG LASTING peace

Talia | 10 years ago | Reply

Hope Mr Nisar is listening

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ