The problem in Karachi is long term, according to the Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Wajid Ali Durrani.
The reporters questioning the IG at the officers’ darbar at Police Ground in the Cantonment area pounced on his vague observation that the violence in Karachi was not about to change any time soon.
“While the problem in Karachi will continue, the police is also responsible for upper Sindh,” he said, backpedalling hastily. “I meant to say that the former IG did not go out of Karachi to other parts of Sindh to find out the issues there.”
Durrani told Hyderabad’s finest that the defunct Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) is to be replaced with a similar body which will comprise ten notable residents and volunteers in an attempt to take a fresh approach to control law and order. “Community policing is the modern way of crime control. It is most successful in Japan,” he said.
The IG pinned his hopes for peace on political committees with representatives of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Awami National Party. “People will not listen to me if I appeal for calm, but political leaders with influence in the city will be heeded.”
The committees will visit violence-hit areas and dissuade people from taking up arms. The IG emphasised that the law enforcement agencies can’t control the situation through force alone – politicians have to do their bit, especially when it comes to removing ethnic prejudices.
“Miscreants attack pockets of Sindhi, Urdu-speaking, Balochi and Pakhtun communities and run away, making it look like a certain community has attacked another.”
The IG also dismissed rumours of having seen the list of names involved in violence that has been handed over by a country in Africa. He said that the list was with the home minister, Manzoor Wassan, and 90 suspects have been arrested in connection with the recent Karachi violence.
“Although I can’t say with certainty that a particular foreign country is involved in the Karachi violence, at the same time I cannot rule anything out either,” he added. The police will use the Rs5 billion provided by President Asif Ali Zardari to buy new armoured personnel carriers, grenade launchers and other advanced weapons. “We realise that the criminals have more sophisticated arms than the police,” he observed darkly.
He announced new apartment buildings for policemen in Hyderabad similar to the 30,000 flats being constructed in Karachi.
He then asked the SSPs present to pick out plots for housing societies but was told that 54 acres of police land is under illegal occupation. “The land, located at a prime location near Rajputana Hospital, is police property,” said a sub-inspector. The IG asked SSP Pir Farid Jan Sarhandi to immediately set up a post there.The mounted police meanwhile, had their own woes to voice during the hour-long question session. One such policeman, Azizullah, complained that his officers do not pay for fodder and other expenses of the horses. “There are 12 mounted police personnel in Hyderabad and we pay for our horses’ food from our own pockets.”
Not to be left out, the traffic police complained about how they are not being given their share – 20% – from the fines that they collect from violators of traffic rules. The majority of the 19 complaints, however, were about delays in promotions and granting of the ‘son quota’. As expected, they were met with the usual assurances from the IG.