Karachi in the grips of extortionists, terrorists

Published: December 22, 2010

The Sindh Home Minister inspired mixed reactions after his heated statements at the KCCI.

Earlier this month Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza entered the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) building for a media briefing where a businessman handed him a ‘parchi’  from extortionists and asked the minister to take action against the people who had been threatening him if they didn’t pay the required sum.

The ‘parchi’ practice

Being a part of the business community in Karachi for several decades, I can confirm that the parchi system is normal practice in Karachi. Political parties, gangsters, ‘community associations’ and representatives of so-called philanthropic and religious organisations pay regular visits to business units around the city for weekly, monthly, or annual collections.

This does not end here. Many of our public officers from provincial and federal agencies operating for facilitations of businesses condone the practice leaving the extortionists safe from summons and legal proceedings.

Fisheries versus extortionists

In one case in August 2010, the fisheries compound in Karachi (where processing factories of seafood products are located) was targeted. Nearby gangs gave each unit a parchi of up to Rs10 million to be paid or “face the consequences”.

This resulted in a number of crimes. An exporter was abducted on his way to work and was later released after the ransom was paid. On another occasion, one exporter was robbed of Rs5 million where his stock was removed from cold storage at gunpoint while criminals took the guards and workers hostage in his factory.

After the seafood industry approached Mirza to take action and the premises was provided 24 hour protection with two police mobiles stationed near the compound. However, the mobile security was gone within a week. The exporters eventually decided to arrange for private security for the harbour.

Similar cases have been reported from around the city – especially industrial areas – as the majority of extortionists are from poor and illegally occupied localities nearby. For now the demands for extortion have been reduced or are being carried out in a more covert fashion.

Mirza’s fiery retaliation

In order to understand Mirza’s outburst at KCCI, one must consider the performance of his ministry since he was made responsible for maintaining law and order in the province:

Crime Reported during the period from 01-01-2010 to 30-09-2010

Crime Reported during the period from 01-01-2009 to 31-12-2009

Crime Reported during the period from 01-01-2008 to 31-12-2008

The data above is not cause for pride or glory for any Pakistani, especially if it concerns the city that contributes to around 70 per cent of the total revenue for the whole country.

I am still confused about Mirza’s speech and his selective approach. When the businessmen at the session complained about the security situation and highlighted the shortcomings of his department why did he lash out at the MQM?

Everyone attending was stunned to hear his words since his speech presented nothing conclusive with regard to the matter.

Mirza’s words would have held value if he had disclosed the names of the culprits responsible for the Shershah market killings that took place due to the non-payment of extortion money. Instead of discussing who was responsible, he chose to say that the incidents were a result of ethnic differences and that the alleged oppressor (MQM) was counter-attacked in retaliation only because the citizens murdered in Shershah were from an Urdu speaking community.

He claimed that he begged the Governor of Sindh Ishratul Ebad to prevent target killings in case other ethnicities adopt similar techniques .

From the 60 target killers that have been put behind bars, Mirza claims that 26 are from MQM, some from ANP and a few from Haqiqi and Sunni Tehreek. If these people are really target killers then where are their charge-sheets and why haven’t they been handed over to the courts?

Despite overseeing the arrest of hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda operatives Mirza continues to accuse Karachi-based political groups for the killings. But citizens of the city know better. Karachi is a hot-bed for terrorism and it is no longer a hidden fact that that violence is being stirred by a third force.

syed.ali

Syed Ali Raza Abidi

A businessman who writes on politics and civic issues. He completed his masters in business administration from Boston University. He tweets @abidifactor.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Majid Maqsood

    well, i think Mirza sb not only figured out mqm but he was seeking support from the biggest political party of Karachi, i think mqm can also play its best role to prevent it but it does not seem, its true, urdu speaking are targeted more because they have majority in city,Dr Mirza also named all political parties which are involved in target killing and showed some proofs of investigation of different agencies. Recommend

  • x-man

    People like Mirza don’t have a clue nor idea about the problems of Karachi yet when it comes to answering tough questions they start criticizing MQM Now for the rest of the country he may sound very brave but Mirza sahib if your target audience are MQM voters ? it makes you look nothing more than very stupid in front of us … reason your opinion is based on our intelligence agencies .. who are a part of problem. Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/13/syed-ali/ S. Ali Raza

    @Majid Maqsood: Kindly share with us the proof Dr. Mirza has given? because even the media has not seen it yet. He tried to support his stance by saying that the target killers were arrested and the JIT, IB, Military Intelligence also say the same. But then why aren’t these departments pursing the cases against these killers? What Mr. Mirza said shows where he wanted to send the message, because Karachi did not believe a word he said, owing to his past speeches and political performances. Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/13/syed-ali/ S. Ali Raza
  • Ali Hassan

    Very good post, I have to say, I agree.
    But I think we should admit the fact that its not just the “third force” that is causing problems, the situation has many dimensions.
    The first two forces are also equally responsible, why don’t the first two forces join hands and break the third force’s hands.
    If you are an ordinary citizen with no connections, doing business in Karachi is like committing a sin / crime and its getting tougher each day.
    But a very nice post.Recommend

  • Dani

    First of all. Biased article.

    Secondly, you’re writing an article based on Karachi/MQM/Mirza and you don’t even know what report Zulfiqar Mirza is talking about.

    He’s talking about the report which was presented by ISI, MI, IB, Rangers, Sindh Police and other law enforcement agencies of the country. Law enforcement agencies claim that MQM is responsible for targeted killings in Karachi.

    Here’s the report: (Although, you could have googled it)

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20109\29\story29-9-2010pg7_21Recommend

  • http://bluntkeyboard.blogspot.com Muhammad Fahed

    I also wanted to make a point.
    In Past allegations like Jinnah Pur, Hakim Saeed Murder were also put on MQM, but after so many years the people who did that said those were false charges.
    How can these reports can be trusted?
    Only way to get the truth out is to produce all the people arrested on the charges of Target Killings in courts, present evidences against them and let the court decides they are guilty or not.
    How can anyone call anyone Killer till he is not convicted by a court?Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/13/syed-ali/ S. Ali Raza

    @Dani: This link takes you to the page, but not the specific report. Kindly share a valid link :)Recommend

  • Asad

    The question, writer has put forward has some weight and one wonders what was the main reason behind mirza’s outburst. I have doubts that somehow this recent rift is linked with the difference of opinion over RGST.

    Also, writer has tried to give a clean chit to MQM in the matter of extortion.Recommend

  • Raqib Ali

    I don’t even live in Sindh so it would be unfair to claim which party is responsible.

    MQM is a very organised party and it should be in a position to play a role in reducing such things. Making secret videos of these extortionists could be a start. As far I remember, Mr Mirza said out of 61 target killers, 21 were from a ‘big party’ (MQM). Isn’t he saying that MQM has only one third of criminals and two thirds come from other parties?Recommend

  • Ehtisham Rizvi

    I think that Zulfiqar Mirza is desperate now and he trying everything he possibly can to secure some votes in the next election, the easiest way to get votes in the rural areas of Sindh is to chant the Bhutto name along with anti MQM slogans, so this is all a part of his next election campaign and nothing more. I remember an Imran Khan who made similar accussations and promised to take MQM to court in UK, anyone have any idea how that went?Recommend

  • http://ykhan.wordpress.com Yasser

    Mr. Asif Zardari has put Zulfiqar Mirza in sindh to use sindh card, Just like Salman Taseer and Raja Riaz in Punjab to use Punjab card, so as remember Jatoi who departed used the Balochistan card at the time of his departure from ministry, anyway there wasn’t any sense to issue such an statement especially at the critical time when 10th Moharram was near, though it’s good to see MQM showed political maturity and used tit for tat strategy. Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/13/syed-ali/ S. Ali Raza

    @Ehtisham Rizvi: That particular case was to be decided in 3 months as challenged by Imran Khan. However, it was thrown out from further investigation by the Scotland Yard within 6 months of its filing, as baseless, and lack of admissible evidence. Recommend

  • http://www.LiaquatAli.com Liaquat Ali

    Apparently, it is not the MQM or the Urdu-Speakers who are at fault here. If there were any other “nation” as strong as the Urdu-Speakers in Sindh in terms of numbers, then PPP would do the same to that group what it is doing to the Urdu-Speakers for the past 30 years to gain cheap votes from Sindhis.Recommend

  • jaleeluddin Qadri

    MQM is atleast better than the PPP.Recommend

  • Raqib Ali

    @ S. Ali Raza

    I have heard from a supporters of MQM that they collect ‘Chanda’ and if someone doesn’t give, they go with someone who just stands quietly and stares at shopkeepers. They say it is important to run party effectively and they don’t think it is extortionism. I asked my friend how would he feel if Labour Party did same with him in London. He had lazy excuses. I don’t blame MQM for any incident, but I don’t know why they don’t stop these kind of Chanda collectors as it is a very organised party.

    Scotland Yard is quite useless when it comes to investigating anything (remember Benazir’s case?). I was attacked on 2.30 pm on one Saturday. I contacted poice, instead of coming they said since the attacker had run away, I ‘could’ go to police station if i ‘liked’. I reported that and by Monday I received a letter (which was typed on same Saturday) saying that there is not enough evidence so the case is being closed. There are cameras on every road but police mostly doesn’t take action unless it is a murder or if there are 20 to 30 witnesses volunteering. These cameras are used to fine car owners. Since arresting criminals is not a revenue earner, police doesn’t care. Just one example of Scotland Yard’s incompetence
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1165034/Police-blunders-left-ANOTHER-serial-rapist-free-attack-20-terrified-women-doorstep.htmlRecommend

  • Samran warsi

    Ali Bhai simply great Recommend

  • Samran warsi

    @ Raqib Ali Sahib

    app ki knowledge kuch thodi kam hai , dost sab say pehlay hum chanda nahi laitay jaisay ap keh rahain hain yeah AMN committe walay loog hain durast karain apnay appko Recommend

  • http://www.LiaquatAli.com Liaquat Ali

    Attempting to gain cheap votes or to achieve any other goal by inciting ethnic sensitives is covered under section 153 A (a) of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) which states that whoever “by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or incites, or attempts to promote or incite, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities” shall be fined or imprisoned for up to one year or both.Recommend

  • http://pakistannrectifiedguy.wordpress.com/ Ammad Hafeez

    @Raqib Ali : There are many propagandists who are just creating these kinds of propaganda against MQM.Till yet, These allegations are not proved. If you have any authentic allegations against the collecting of ‘Chanda’ by any MQM walas so pls file a case.. Simple..
    Some peoples say Scott land Yard is the most accurate investigation team and now you are saying they are just a crap. In all over the world, peoples say SLY team is the most accurate investigation team of the world..Recommend

  • http://absarahmed.wordpress.com Absar

    MQM a political group or gang of terrorists, asks intel report: http://tinyurl.com/2b6x6vv

    “Reports put by federal agencies to the government shows that individuals involved in recent target killings in Karachi are directly or indirectly connected to the MQM.
    Main government sources told DawnNews that MQM contacted many times for the release of its arrested persons and the government declined to do so upon the advice of agencies.”

    http://tinyurl.com/2coeenuRecommend

  • http://Imagineglobally.blogspot.com Jahanzeb Kamal

    Presented the facts in very disciplined manner without leaving any aspect thirsty.Recommend

  • http://pakistannrectifiedguy.wordpress.com/ Ammad Hafeez

    @Absar : As per statement of high authorities of MQM, Mirza should bring all names of targeted killers among the Public. As per the knowledge of Mirza, 26 targeted killers are directly or indirectly connected to the MQM so, dear pls bring all names among the public. Why is he hiding the so called targeted killers of MQM. Is he the well-wisher of MQM?? Or Is he just false propagating against the MQM.. Recommend

  • Maddy

    Dear Mr Raqib

    I am astonished to read your valuable comments. I dont know who was the person who telling you these type of stories.

    I am here in London from the long time listening same stories from a particular group.. How many times you have went to Karachi.. The people like you only listen from undefined resources and comment on public places. You think that Karachi is a place where everyone is killing each other. No body is coming out of his house and lots of other things. Actually u dun think that Karachi is a normal city.. My dear brother we are just like you …

    You are talking about extortion money.. the media is free .. people are free .. when a rape case in a small village come on media than why MQM extortion is coming on media… And then u said except it.. How can I accept that i have a child as i haven’t marry :)

    Again Karachiites are just like you ..

    then your london story.. Is MQM or Altaf bhai stopping London police to take action Recommend

  • Maddy

    @ Absar sahib ..

    Sir reports of Jinnahpur are same like these reports and same from our PATRIOTIC agencies and wat was proved later…

    People of Karachi are happy wid MQM and thats enough for us and its nothing less than a reward for us Recommend

  • Syed Hammad Hassan

    Absar Can u proved ?Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Whatelse do you expect from a Self proclaimed Badmaash who raised the slogan of Pakistan Na KhappayRecommend

  • Samran warsi

    @ abasar
    Where is the report that you want to believe Zulfiqar Mirza with? and why are these people in his custody since September 2010? why not presented to court? You give link of DailyTimes.. don’t you see Sara Taseer’s permanent banner on that page? Doesn’t it tell you who own this newspaper? Grow up manRecommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/13/syed-ali/ S. Ali Raza

    Please also review this video and compare what ZM said in his speech at KCCI about the Sher Shah victims, as to why they were killed. The real reason was extortion, and that too by the gangs under his party’s leadership http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOyO5RK06iM&feature=autofbRecommend

  • x-man

    hatts off to MQM they kept their cool and didnt went bonkers at Mirza’s silly statement president Zardari should realise that the karachi based al qaida and taliban leadership can use Mirza type people they have been very sucessful in the past and Mirza big mouth and no brain cell non sense rant about MQM will further increase political and ethinic tensions in the city. Further more Mirza must be tried in a court of lawHow dare this fuedal lord threatned entire urdu speaking population?Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/13/syed-ali/ S. Ali Raza

    @Absar: By the way… which “federal” agencies – The one working under Rehman Malik (uh, I mean President Zardari?)Recommend

  • Dani

    @S. Ali Raza, the link I posted says that the MQM is involved in target killings in Karachi and the report was jointly presented by ISI, MI, IB, Sindh Rangers and Sindh Police.

    You deny the report? Are top law enforcement agencies of the country lying? If being a supporter of MQM you can’t admit the fact, then don’t admit.Recommend

  • Tamaaz Khan

    @Dani

    The link you provided doesn’t point to anything but the homepage of dailytimes.
    Could you provide a link to this report if it does indeed exist.

    I have as much faith in the word of Zulfiqar Mirza as I do in Asif Zardari, not much at all.Recommend

  • Dani

    Tamaaz Khan,

    The link is quoting what the report says. ISI will not send its reports to people’s homes.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/13/syed-ali/ S. Ali Raza

    @Dani: This means you do not understand how are police and judiciary works. Tell me if these are target killers in custody of Zulfiqar Mirza since SEPTEMBER (Now December) why has he not presented them in court? so it could be decided once and for all who is behind this menace in Karachi.Recommend

  • Syed Kashif Nawaz

    Isn’t it that Zulfiqar Mirza’s supported People’s Aman Committee (PAC) is the most active Extortionists Gang in Karachi? and the same is involved in Sher Sha Scrape Market Massacre? Coupled with ANP, Taliban and Haqiqi Terrorists Groups who are arrested in dozens of different Crimes!

    The reason of Zulfiqar Mirza’s outburst on MQM is not related to Extortion or Law and Order Situation in Karachi, rather the ever increasing popularity and resistence of MQM in PPP’s crimes is the main reason of this drama! Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/13/syed-ali/ S. Ali Raza

    Now please read this statement from the IG Sindh about the target killers which Zulfiqar Mirza claims to be from MQM, ANP, ST and others. http://express.com.pk/epaper/PoPupwindow.aspx?newsID=1101137077&Issue=NPKHI&Date=20110105&smsss=facebook&at_xt=4d243d317656d56d,0 May these liars suffer for the damage they cause to Pakistan. Recommend

  • Moise

    Parchi comes from all party nearly in all areas of Karachi, not only that policy and government agencies (82 in total) ask for it as well. We should stop living in denial and understand we voted for the current parties ourselves.

    As for third force aka terrorist is just a scapegoat used by all parties to hide their incompetence. Terrorist job is not to collect protection money but put terror in fear of people. As for businesses their only solution is to protect themselves and use force where necessary. Govt. is only good for filling their overseas bank accounts.Recommend