More than half of the nearly 6,000 suspected criminals arrested during the ongoing surgical operation in Karachi are affiliated with political parties, counterterrorism officials told The Express Tribune in background interviews.
“Civilian and intelligence agencies have rounded up 5,882 suspected criminals since the launch of the Karachi operation in September 2013. Of them, 55% are associated with political parties,” a senior interior ministry official said.
He complained that lack of cooperation from major political players has long been undermining effective operations against criminals in the city. “We’ve sought cooperation from four political parties to purge Karachi of criminals,” he added.
The political parties have, however, always denied existence of their militant wings and disowned criminals arrested by law enforcers.
The official said criminal elements in Karachi had been divided into three categories: anti-state elements; workers of banned outfits; and their facilitators.
The Rangers in cooperation with IB and ISI have collected the data of all criminals, enlisting 913 militants involved in anti-state activities, he added. “Their cases will be sent to the military courts for sure. It’s time to catch the big fish in Karachi,” he said. “The military and political government are backing the IB, ISI and Rangers.”
The official said around 1,700 suspected criminals were working for one political party while another 1,563 were associated with three other major parties of the city. “All of them are involved in murders, kidnapping, extortion and other criminal activities,” he claimed.
Around 365 militants are working for the Taliban and al Qaeda, he added, and another 1,341 are working with other proscribed outfits. “Karachiites will see more raids in coming weeks because we have irrefutable evidence against many VVIPs either backing or running militant wings.”
Former Sindh police chief Afzal Shigri questioned why these militants were not being put behind bars. “If 55 to 60% criminals have political affiliations, why are law enforcing agencies not disclosing their names? Why is only the MQM [being pointed out]?”
He stressed better coordination among security agencies for results of the Karachi operation.
Malik Habib, who has served as a caretaker interior minister, said the Karachi operation should go on across the board come what may. “A militant is a militant, regardless of his political affiliation,” he said.
PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said there should be across the board action against criminals regardless of their affiliations. “A criminal is a criminal whether he is found at Nine-Zero, Mardan House, Bilawal House or Kingri House,” he said. “However, it is for the courts to determine the crime or otherwise. No official of a law enforcement agency, no matter what the colour of his uniform is or how glittering his medallions, can be permitted to determine on his own the crime of an individual.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.
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