Karachi operation: A game of numbers

Published: August 28, 2015
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Law enforcers claim to have arrested 70,000 suspects during the operation; where are they now? PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

Law enforcers claim to have arrested 70,000 suspects during the operation; where are they now? PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

KARACHI: 

It is a game of numbers. Big numbers. Not your average 10s or 20s. That doesn’t make headlines or fetch rewards. You bring in 10 ‘suspects’ and all you will receive is a pat on the back. You detain a 1,000 and become a hero. You arrest 71,000 in less than two years and you are the saviour.

And then you let them go. Because no one remembers to follow it up.  The Karachi operation was initiated in September 2013, on the directives of the federal government. The primary aim was to bring to task criminals identified by the agencies in view of the declining law and order situation in Karachi. From day one, it was clear that the operation will be jointly conducted by the Rangers and the police.

So far, the Karachi police and the paramilitary force have done a remarkable job of arresting over 72,000 suspects in the first 23 months. Of these, around 80 per cent of the arrests were made by the police.

The police performance report, available with The Express Tribune, states that around 61,851 suspects, including 1,802 murderers, 879 terrorists, 119 kidnappers and 2,775 robbers have been arrested by the police since September 5, 2013.

Read: First stage of Karachi security operation complete: Rangers

DESIGN: AAMIR KHAN

The Rangers, meanwhile, claim to have arrested 10,353 suspects, including 826 terrorists, 334 target killers, 296 extortionists and 82 kidnappers.

Pat on the back

These figures have come to be quoted off-hand at every press conference, law and order meeting and reports released by the police. What is missed in all this rhetoric is that almost 90 per cent of these suspects have been released. At the start of the operation, there were 4,000 inmates in the Karachi Central Jail. As of today, there are around 6,200, according to a jail official.

Of the 70,000 arrested, most have either secured bail, have been acquitted by the court for want of evidence or were found innocent in the initial investigation and let go.

Inept or corrupt?

Besides corruption, a lack of focus on investigations is believed to be the major reason for the release of these suspects. “Drug peddlers, proclaimed offenders, absconders, gamblers, street criminals and robbers comprised the majority of the suspects arrested by the police,” said a senior police officer. “Such criminals always have good connections with the police and are able to get bail as the police investigators deliberately make weak cases against them.”

Recent cases

One recent example is that of Samiuz Zaman, who was arrested by the police in June this year for his alleged involvement in the targeted killing of Prof Waheedur Rehman but was released for want of evidence. At the time of his arrest, the police had claimed his involvement in several other murders.

Another example is that of Master Essa, who was released by the police on November 16, 2014. The suspect, along with three of his companions, Sarmad Siddiqui, Asif Zaheer and Nadeem alias Burger alias Mullah, was arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department for providing logistical support to the militants who attacked Jinnah International Airport in Karachi last year.

Court takes notice

Recently, the apex court, while hearing a case against the non-disbursement of funds meant for investigations, observed that the level of corruption in the Sindh police has trebled during the tenure of Sindh Police IG Ghulam Hyder Jamali. The court was told that the police had requested for Rs316 million towards the cost of investigations, out of which they were given Rs140 million and a supplementary budget of Rs75 million was also released in April 2015. Out of the aforesaid amount, the police could not utilise Rs12 million. The Supreme Court bench also remarked that it seemed nobody took any interest in matters relating to investigations.

Read: Rangers claim Karachi operation helped curb crime

In their defence

For their part, the police officers blame the statistics on the shortage of police investigators. “At a time, each officer deals with dozens of cases,” reasoned one senior police official. “We are human beings, not robots. How is it possible for us to work on so many cases at a time and do a good job with them?” he questioned.

“Without a doubt, the Karachi operation has borne remarkable results and everyone should appreciate the law enforcers for we are now conducting intelligence-based targeted raids,” IGP Jamali told The Express Tribune.

He explained the large number of suspects who were released were let go for bailable offences, which was part of the law. “Another reason is that the police arrest many of the suspects on suspicion and release them after they have been found innocent in the investigations.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2015. 

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Neutral
    Aug 28, 2015 - 9:44AM

    Whatever the numbers say , I haven’t heard for quite a long that Karachi is shut down or Karachi is on fire and that’s what matters.Recommend

  • M
    Aug 28, 2015 - 9:45AM

    Can the rangers also arrest judges for their incompetency and indirectly abetting the criminals?Recommend

  • Hady
    Aug 28, 2015 - 10:03AM

    CORRECTION
    around 61,851 suspects, including 1,802 murderers, 879 terrorists, 119 kidnappers and 2,775 robbers have been arrested by the police since September 5, 2015.
    September 5, 2015 is yet to happen ET.Recommend

  • khan
    Aug 28, 2015 - 10:40AM

    Since 5 September 2015???????/ Typographical error i guess in the reportRecommend

  • Acorn Guts
    Aug 28, 2015 - 11:47AM

    But that’s good right? It clearly shows that the operation is well within the legal rights of the accused, like Neutral said; the important thing is that the law and order situation in Karachi has improved many time over and the figure that really counts is in low tens i.e the number of terrorist incidents in Karachi every month.Recommend

  • Johar
    Aug 28, 2015 - 12:17PM

    There used to be a bomb blast at least once a week. Things are much better now. Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Aug 28, 2015 - 4:16PM

    @Neutral:

    No it doesn’t matter nowhere near as these so-called smaller criminals ruining the lives of citizens do. I don’t know if you’re a Karachiite or may be a rich one. Try going in the less fortunate areas or use public transport after 11 pm.

    Ground realities are very much the same. Deal with it.Recommend

  • OBSERVER
    Aug 28, 2015 - 11:34PM

    @.Acorn Guts..many criminals, target killers,extortionist coming from outside Karachi and belonging to other parties were allowed to escape before the start of operation..like Ali Ahmed Magsi involved in the massacre in Shershah kabaria marget,Abbas Afridi ,..and many belonging to ANP..Recommend

  • lashkari5
    Aug 29, 2015 - 3:57AM

    a reason for being inept, over-worked. simple, possibly honest, but noticebly corrupt, and 2700 robbers out of 72,000 arrests, intelligence-targeted, that does sounds like hard-work, ..the beauty is whatever needs to be done will be done. Recommend

  • Usman
    Aug 29, 2015 - 6:23PM

    Its a game of fear, monopoly of ruling….Recommend

  • rubina
    Aug 31, 2015 - 11:53PM

    It is shameful to hear that police officials arrest innocent people and demand ransom money. If people fail to pay, they are charged with fake cases. So all those arrested are not criminals. This includes CID as well. Recommend

  • Sid S
    Sep 5, 2015 - 11:50PM

    @Neutral: Karachi was shut in protest to the unfair and apathetic treatment of its citizenry by the PPP govenment. Most who do not claim Karachi roots, are happy at this superficial calm. The long lasting peace and prosperity can only come through political settlements, NOT through brute force.Recommend

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