Leading businessmen and traders in Karachi stressed that business activity in the recently-concluded month of Ramazan surged significantly, linking the phenomenon to the relative improvement in the security situation of the city.
Representatives of leading retail markets believed that sales this Eid were, by far, the highest in the last five years.
“The main reason of the better Ramazan and Eid sales this year was the relative improvement in security in the economic hub of the country,” said Atiq Mir, chairman of All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, an umbrella organisation of wholesale and retail market associations.
Almost every big or small retail market for clothes, electronic items, shoes and other accessories have reported significant increase in this year’s sales, he said. This year people thronged to retail markets right after the first 10 days of Ramazan, which was not the case in the last four years during which people were fearful to spend time in busy markets. Street crime and terrorist attacks had overcome them, he added.
Traders appreciated the coordination among law-enforcing agencies and civil administration of the city during Ramazan. According to businessmen, Karachi witnesses visible surge in street crime and kidnapping for ransom in Ramazan every year and the situation has only gotten worse in the last few years.
To understand the dynamics of extortion in Karachi, one can divide the markets of Karachi in two different zones. The first zone could be the big wholesale markets that are mostly located in the old city areas — the southern part of the city. The second would be the retail markets that are mostly located in the newer areas in central and northern parts of the city.
The law enforcing agencies have partly controlled extortion cases in retail markets, traders say, but extortionists are still powerful in wholesale markets that supply imported goods like grains and consumer products to all the parts of the country.
Improvement in state of economy
Apart from the improvement in security situation, analysts point out that due to a relative development in the state of the economy, this year’s consumer spending has been highest in the last three years.
“The business community of the country is happy to see improvement in the economy. The growth is slow but steady, which means that it is sustainable compared to the sharp ups and downs in the previous decades,” Former Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (KCCI) Banking and Insurance Committee chairman Atiqur Rehman told The Express Tribune.
Despite recognising the performance of law enforcement agencies in Karachi, he said the number of extortion cases has reduced but the situation is far from satisfactory.
This appreciation from Karachi’s business community is interesting as the leading businessmen have been criticising both provincial and the federal governments on the gradual decline in the usefulness of the ongoing Karachi operation.
In the first week of September 2013, the federal government empowered Rangers to lead a targeted operation in Karachi with the support of Sindh Police. The operation was against those involved in targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and terrorism in the city.
This Ramazan, traders say, that there was a decline in street crime but they pointed out that cases of kidnapping for ransom are still a nuisance.
Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) Chief Ahmed Chinoy commented that the number of complaints for such cases have reduced 50% in the last few months. “Our success in controlling kidnapping for ransom should be gauged by the number of complaints we receive and successful cases we resolve,” he said. However, Chinoy added, if such cases are not reported to the CPLC, not much can be done.
“It’s two-way traffic. If businessmen are paying ransom without informing us, then they’re helping the criminals, not the police,” he stressed.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2014.
Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ