The Karachi police have arrested over 28,000 people in the 10 months of the targeted operation but have little to show in terms of reduction in crime levels. In fact, the number of kidnapping cases and extortion has gone up this year. According to a report prepared by the Karachi police, the number of suspects caught in raids has been significant. While the numbers show that the police have been working hard, the actual level of crime in the city fails to support these numbers. Apart from targeted killings, nearly all types of crimes have risen in the past year. What makes matters worse is that this huge number of 28,000 arrests goes significantly down when we count the number of prisoners the jails have. According to the prison authorities, they only have 1,000 people in Central and Malir jails of Karachi. This means that as many as 27,000 suspected criminals are walking scot-free because our prosecution failed to put them behind bars.
It is time for the high-ranking police officials, the home department and the federal government to review their strategy for the Karachi operation, which should be geared at reducing crime levels not merely increasing the number of ‘suspected’ criminals caught. To achieve this, the focus of the operation must shift towards prosecution. The Karachi police report admits that investigation is weak and a majority of criminals are released shortly after their arrest because the investigating officers are unable to provide evidence or witnesses. The government and the police department must improve investigating techniques and ensure that the criminals caught are prosecuted.
Better prosecution will also lay to rest the accusations of groups who are claiming that the operation is targeting them. Once the suspects are proven guilty, their supporters will no longer be able to say that innocent people are being taken away. This will also keep in check the law enforcers from using the operation as a means to settle personal scores.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2014.