Much as it may peeve some, principally politicians, the general population of Karachi are likely to be much heartened by the decision to grant a 30-day extension to the policing powers of the Rangers. The extension comes on the bidding of the co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, Asif Ali Zardari. He said that “In the present situation the relation between military and civilian governments are praiseworthy for betterment of the country” — and it is difficult to disagree with this position.
The provincial government had previously protested the actions of the Rangers deployment in Sindh; likewise it had objected to the actions of the Federal Investigation Agency and the National Accountability Bureau. In an ideal world the Sindh government would have every right to object, but we are not in an ideal world and the situation in Karachi regarding law and order had long gone beyond the pale. The fact that it had reached that sorry position is the fault of nobody but the Sindh government itself, and if it is unable to get its own house in order, it can hardly object if the federal government steps in, and the Rangers deployment, heavy-handed as it sometimes is, has done much to restore order.
Read: Performance review: Rangers claim Karachi operation helped curb crime
A clash of institutions is never desirable, and the Rangers cannot be a permanent fixture, but the Sindh government cannot have its cake and eat it too. Either it reforms policing, and that means taking some hard political decisions, or it can expect to find itself sidelined in the future.
Karachi is the financial heart of the country, our principal wealth generator. It cannot be allowed to become the personal fiefdom of a bunch of bandits, and corrupt police and bureaucrats. If the Rangers sometimes go in hard and crack a few heads, then in the short term that has to be lived with. If, in recent times, there have been actions taken against political parties, it is because there is the strong possibility of criminal elements having ensconced themselves in some of these parties, and in an ideal world such elements would have been purged out by the parties themselves, which has not happened. Cleaning up Karachi was never going to be pretty or painless, was it?
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.
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