By: Zamir Hussain Laghari
With the change of command in Pakistan’s military, fears loom over the ongoing Karachi operation about consistency in its pace and reversal of results.
Outgoing Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, who embarked on a round of farewell visits to military formations last week, met officers and soldiers of the Karachi Corps and affirmed that change of command should not affect peace efforts in Karachi.
Although he said ‘results’ achieved during the crackdown ‘cannot be allowed to reverse’, there are fears and concerns in various quarters about whether or not the law-enforcers will succeed in curbing terrorists and their political backers.
President Mamnoon Hussain also echoed these concerns when he met Rangers Director General Major General Bilal Akbar in Karachi. The President called for taking the ongoing operation in the city to its logical conclusion without any concession for criminals.
He reiterated the same when spoke at farewell dinner hosted by him in the honor of General Raheel Sharif; however, the army chief assured the President that there will be no reversal of results or any let-up in the operation.
Later, Major General Bilal Akbar, while speaking at ceremony in Karachi, addressed these concerns, affirming that Karachi operation will continue at all cost.
“All of you are aware of changes in Karachi… Our operation is going on and will continue against terrorists, target killers and extortionists at all cost,” he said.
He also announced that Rangers is starting skill development programs and victim support programs for rehabilitation of youths involved in criminal activities in Karachi.
He said the programs are also for affectees of terrorism and other incidents, adding that education, medical facilities and psychological treatment will also be provided at the rehab centers of Rangers.
So, in the wake of these efforts one can hope that Rangers will play a vital role in restoration of peace in Karachi, as tasked and envisioned by the military leadership.
We all know that peace in Karachi, that is hub of Pakistan’s economic activity, is vital for country’s development and stability, and if the tranquility of this city destabilized, it will affect the entire Pakistan.
Therefore, an indiscriminate action against criminals is the only way to give a sense of security to citizens, who have hardly experienced the days of peace and better law-and -order in this metropolis.
All hopes are attached with the same dedication and commitment that was demonstrated by General Raheel Sharif and his team. His legacy must live on to sow fright and panic and break the backbones of anti-state actors as well as their financers and political patrons.
It’s a fact that ever since the Rangers-led operation began in September 2013, the level of crime and violence in Karachi has dropped, and also the number of terrorist incidents, extortion bids, kidnappings and political murders came down.
This is only because of the vision of General Raheel Sharif and his team.
However, Karachi still has many miles to go before it can be declared a safe city. The law-enforcement agencies have yet to overcome many challenges to clear this city of a wide network of criminals and terrorists.
Since on the other hand we can experience that criminals are still so bold and daring that they can fearlessly achieve their target anywhere and anytime in the city.
The genie of street crime is yet to be put back into the bottle. The street snatching and robbery remains endemic and a headache for the citizens of Karachi.
Gunmen easily deprive people of their valuables during traffic jams and in markets and other public places. They pull the trigger and shoot citizens over resistance in the mugging attempt without any hesitation.
Also, incidents of sectarian terrorism should completely come to an end if the city is really purged of sectarian extremists.
So without a sustained crackdown against criminals, militants and mafias, the gains of the operation will remain limited.
[The author is an online journalist who likes research and writing on social issues, culture, tourism and international affairs.]