KARACHI: Part 1. The traffic light turns red, forcing scores of reluctant vehicles to come to a halt. The drivers look around uneasily. Suddenly, there is a tap on the window. An angry, furtive face supported by a nine-millimetre pistol demands your phone and wallet. You surrender. Not doing so could result in a small two-line obituary in the next day’s newspaper. Since January of this year, some 22,000 individuals have already experienced this trauma. Those, paid out of taxpayers’ money to protect citizens, continue to behave as personal servants of politicians and keep looking the other way.
Part 2. Citizens propose a ‘Get the Mugger’ scheme. Begin by identifying 10-20 most ‘mugged’ intersections. Install cameras to cover these locations. Place two armed policemen at each of these intersections in a manner that they have a full view of the location. The surveillance cameras at each intersection are closely monitored from a central control room. As soon as a mugging is observed, the control room informs the police on duty (if it has not already detected the crime) to use stun (or real) guns to disable and arrest the culprits. The camera evidence should be enough to prosecute the culprits. The cameras could be discreetly and randomly relocated at other potential mugging sites so that the muggers are never sure of what location is being actively monitored.
Part 3. The police (read: personal servants) converts this simple and cost-effective scheme to an opportunity for making money and fooling the public. It plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with an NGO to establish kiosks at 60 locations. Each kiosk will cost up to Rs5 million. That is Rs300 million down the drain. In addition, at least 16 CCTV cameras will be installed, with two motorcycle squads of the police that will perform its duty at each kiosk. That is another Rs200 million. The total amount of half-a-billion rupees will have no impact on the street crime rate, will add to police vulnerability (sitting ducks at kiosks) and will make a few individuals very, very rich. If only our unprofessional police knew the difference between discreet and demonstrative policing.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2015.