KARACHI: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) believes that it is not the Rangers’ responsibility to police the city and any measures taken by them should be temporary.
HRCP general secretary IA Rehman said that it was not a pleasant thing to have any paramilitary force stay in a city for a long time. The Rangers job, he added, was to deal with enemies, not policing. Speaking at Karachi Press Club on Monday, Rehman said that when the Rangers came into the city years ago, there was no policy - no one knew how long they would be in the city for or what their relationship with the police would be.
Rehman, was one of the commission's members at the press club ready to present the preliminary findings of their fact-finding mission on the ongoing targeted operation in Karachi. The HRCP plans to release a detailed report on the Karachi operation which started in September 2013 later this year. The fact-finding mission was led by HRCP chairperson Zohra Yusuf and included Rehman, former chairperson Asma Jahangir and several of the commission's members, who met political parties, the chief minister of Sindh, IG Sindh, traders, transporters, doctors and lawyers from July 17 to July 20. The one person they were unable to meet was DG Rangers Rizwan Akhtar.
"The DG Rangers is a busy and an important man," said Rehman. "He did not meet us. At first, he agreed to meet us at 11pm and then shifted time to10:30pm. However, when we reached his office we were told that the meeting had been cancelled." Rehman added that it was unfortunate that they could not meet him as they had received a lot of complaints against the Rangers regarding the operation.
The Rangers spokesperson told The Express Tribune they had a lot of work to do and that is why the DG was unavailable.
According to the HRCP findings, no political party except for the Pakistan Peoples Party was satisfied with the targeted operation. When other parties were pressed for a solution to the city's problems, they remained silent.The preliminary findings quoted the police saying it was engaged in proactive policing. They presented the mission with figures and statistics from 310 days of the operation and compared it pre-operation days - claiming that murders and crimes had decreased.
"The public's perception is different from the LEAs regarding the operation," said Rehman. "Dozens of families have come to us with complaints of their men being picked up and taken to police stations or in Rangers vehicles or of having received last phone call from LEAs." He added that the police force had around 26,000 officers for a big city like Karachi but most of them were busy on VVIP duties.
According to Rehman, there is no specific unit in the police force that deals with only with militants. "Karachi is facing a political crisis," he said. "No one owns it. We were sad to see the level of helplessness and hopelessness in the people, and they refrain from complaining. The authorities are corrupt, unskilled, and there is lack of resources."
The HRCP official claimed that the operation had been launched on an 'ad-hoc' basis without appropriate planning, and said that there were reservations over the city's situation and who the responsibility lay with.
According to Rehman, good governance was the only way to restore order in the city. He said that the two major parties of the province should sit together and make a policy. A city as big as Karachi, he added, cannot function without a local government system.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.