An enormous challenge

An enormous challenge
An enormous challenge

The operation in Karachi has already commenced. Three suspected TTP terrorists died on Thursday in an exchange of fire with personnel from the Crime Investigation Department (CID).

The Rangers also conducted targeted operations in several parts of Karachi, and a number of houses where suspects were supposed to be hiding were raided. Four committees have been set up to deal with the situation. The Sindh chief minister would head one tasked with managing, administering and controlling the operation. The committee will meet on a daily basis. Another operational committee headed by DG Rangers and comprising the Inspector General of Police and representatives of intelligence agencies would also meet every day to monitor the operational activities.

A legal committee to be chaired by Zahid Hamid will address the concerns of Rangers regarding their lack of authority in some regions of the city and the inadequacy of the system that lets the culprits go scot free. The fourth committee comprising members of civil society, bureaucrats, senior media persons and businessmen has been assigned the task of monitoring the overall action. There is also a proposal to raise an Anti-Terrorism Force on the pattern of paramilitary bodies to contain the menace of terrorism. Also under consideration is the formation of a Crime Control Force to rid the country, especially Karachi, of rapidly growing street crime.

On paper this looks like a decent start. As the talks about action in Karachi have gone on for nearly a week, this has provided an opportunity to some of the most wanted criminals to go underground or shift base to other cities. Karachi is currently under strict vigilance. There is therefore a likelihood of an immediate reduction in violence, and a drop in extortion and street crime reports. But vigilance of a high order can only be sustained over a limited period. Over time old habits tend to return and law enforcers become lax. The people living in the metropolis have seen brief lulls of the sort in the past. They will be satisfied only if there is a visible permanent change.

The administration faces big challenges. Reportedly unregistered cellular phone SIMs number over four million, a huge chunk of them in Karachi, and these are a major communication tool for the terrorists and criminals to carry out their activities. It remains to be seen how many of the most wanted criminals the LEAs succeed in arresting, prosecuting and getting sentenced. This will require necessary changes in law.

How long will the committee headed by Zahid Hamid take to propose profound changes in law and get the proposed bill through parliament? Another challenge is the reported alliance between the TTP, the LeJ and the now formidable Lyari gangs. The peace in Karachi will in the long run have to be maintained by police. The government will have to work out how to depoliticize, and arm and equip the police with modern gadgetry. For this the formulation of a holistic policy is required. – DailyTimes