Home Global Village Efforts will continue to maintain normalcy in Karachi and the province: COAS

Efforts will continue to maintain normalcy in Karachi and the province: COAS

Is continued military presence the answer to crime in Karachi?

normalcy

News Analysis |

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Karachi Corps HQ and Malir Garrison on Thursday. He was updated on the security situation of the province, especially Karachi and the operational preparedness of the armed forces against any adverse situation in the city. While speaking at the visit, General Bajwa hinted at a possible continuation of the Karachi operation, otherwise known as the Lyari operation.

General Bajwa lauded the efforts of the Sindh rangers in maintaining peace in the cosmopolitan; he also appreciated their performance for the improved security situation in the province. The COAS later said that efforts will continue to maintain normalcy in Karachi and the province. He later visited the Malir Garrison and appreciated the officers for their professional excellence towards defence and security of the country. The details of his visit were revealed by ISPR in its press release.

If the high profile cases are not resolved, arresting low ranked gang members will not improve the situation in the long term. Keeping Rangers in Karachi for extended periods of time is not a feasible solution. Politics should be excluded from the whole operation for the long term prosperity of the whole province.

The Lyari Operation was started by the present government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on 7th September 2017 after an order from the Cabinet. It was launched against the increasing number of target killings, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and terrorism activities in Karachi. The operation was initially launched by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) from 24th April 2012 to 4th May 2012 against the Peoples’ Aman Committee (PAM), allegedly the militant wing of PPP gone rogue.

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The operation by the PPP wasn’t very successful as it was predominantly a police launched operation. On the other hand, the operation by PML-N was very successful as it was headed by the Pakistani Rangers with special powers of prosecution and investigation being granted to them by the Cabinet. All security forces in Pakistan were made the stake holders in the operation which is attributed to its success.

The security situation in Karachi improved greatly after the operation. More than a thousand gangsters were arrested by the Rangers. The crime rate fell sharply and the fear among the populace reduced to a great extent. While the success of the operation was obvious, there were certain cons to it. Military courts were established in Karachi to deal with the situation but the promulgation of justice through the military courts has been highly questioned as they do not fulfill the criteria of the right to a fair trial.

Similarly, Dr Asim Hussain was arrested in 2015 for facilitation of treatment of terrorists in his clinic and embezzlement of funds, he was also indicted formally by the court but after his release on bail in 2017, no further action was taken.

The issue of jurisdiction has also been raised by many media analysts in terms of the role of the Army in the Karachi operation. Rangers come under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry; the matters within the state are controlled by them. Pakistan Army is an organization under the Defense Ministry; it is not their domain to interfere with the matters of the Interior unless they are asked to do so under Article 245 of the Constitution.

It was the Cabinet who started the operation in Karachi and it should be the job of the Cabinet to extend its duration. The ruling party PML-N has often complained about the judiciary interfering with their powers but they have never said the same for the military other than a few occasions. Decision to deploy extra forces in Saudi Arabia was initially made by the Army chief and later endorsed by the Prime Minister; even though the PM defended that the decision was made by the Cabinet.

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Another major concern of civil society activists and media experts is that operations in Karachi have always failed in the long term, from Operation Clean-up in 1992 to the present Operation Lyari. The reason for this failure has been attributed to the politicization of these operations, only the members of the opposing groups are targeted. Similarly, rather than convicting criminals in the court, they are maligned on the media through video leaks and confessional statements.

The operation was initially launched by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) from 24th April 2012 to 4th May 2012 against the Peoples’ Aman Committee (PAM), allegedly the militant wing of PPP gone rogue.

Leader of the Peoples’ Aman Committee (PAM) Uzair Baloch is currently in the custody of the Pak Army and his confessional statement surfaced in October 2017 but no action was taken after his statement and he has not yet been prosecuted by a court of law. Similarly, Dr Asim Hussain was arrested in 2015 for facilitation of treatment of terrorists in his clinic and embezzlement of funds, he was also indicted formally by the court but after his release on bail in 2017, no further action was taken.

He was later appointed as the chairman of the Higher Education Commission-Sindh on 30th January 2018. If the high profile cases are not resolved, arresting low ranked gang members will not improve the situation in the long term. Keeping Rangers in Karachi for extended periods of time is not a feasible solution. Politics should be excluded from the whole operation for the long term prosperity of the whole province.


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