Rather than bringing about an improvement in the law and order situation in Karachi, the Rangers deployed in the city may, in fact, be contributing to making things worse. According to a new report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a fact-finding team from the organisation uncovered 11 recent cases of abuse of the law by Rangers personnel, including extra-judicial killings, abduction and torture. The HRCP team spoke to persons who had been ‘picked up’, and later returned, and also to the family members of other victims, including those who had been shot dead. Senior Rangers officials were unavailable to talk to representatives of the rights watchdog body, while the paramilitary force’s spokesperson stated that he knew nothing about the HRCP or its report.
This is not encouraging. We can only agree with the observations of the chairperson of the Sindh Chapter of the HRCP, Amarnath Motumal, who noted that the Rangers were indeed contributing to a worsening of the law and order situation in Karachi. The Commission also stated that the police had delayed the registration of cases. The situation is obviously an alarming one and highlights the fact that the Rangers have done little to improve law and order in Karachi. Indeed, judging by the HRCP’s findings, they appear to have contributed to worsening it, not only by failing to abide by the rule of law, but creating among people a sense of fear rather than security.
The authorities need to urgently review the situation. Restoring order in Karachi is, of course, a key national concern for many reasons. The finding from a reputable, independent body that Rangers are hampering rather than aiding this, should lead to a complete review of the situation, so that measures can be taken to ensure that Rangers do not step beyond the law, while also reassessing what needs to be done to return some sense of order to Karachi, so that normal activity in the city can resume and its people granted freedom from the chaos they have lived with for years.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2013.
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