Bring the Army to Karachi!

Published: August 30, 2013

The Pakistan army is the only hope left and if given a chance, they can surely provide relief to Karachiites. PHOTO: INP

The Pakistan army is the only hope left and if given a chance, they can surely provide relief to Karachiites PHOTO: AFP The Pakistan army is the only hope left and if given a chance, they can surely provide relief to Karachiites. PHOTO: INP

Recently issued statements by the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain and the subsequent debate on the floor of the National Assembly have brought forward a plethora of concerns for citizens of Karachi.

The ruling party, Pakistan Peoples Party, instead of giving hope and a plan to stabilise the worsening law and order situation in the city, has started pointing towards the 30-year-old violent history of this beautiful port city. Instead of showing resolve to eliminate criminal elements, the information minister for Sindh government, Sharjeel Memon, accused the MQM of hatching a conspiracy alongside the Pakistan Army. Allegations are countered with facts and figures — but here, it seems the government has strong ties with gangs operating in Karachi, which it doesn’t want to expose.

The chief justice, while listening to the Karachi unrest case at the Sindh registry of Supreme Court, commented on the complete failure shown by the law enforcement agencies and specifically took the Director General (DG) of Pakistan Rangers Sindh to task who had nothing concrete to say in his defence. The DG shifted the blame to political parties with militant wings, hence showing his inability to maintain law and order in the city, a response which annoyed the top judge.

Opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah has, however, termed this demand by the MQM a slap on the face of democracy. He says that police and rangers are fully capable of maintaining law and order in the city. The people belonging to the Kutchi community have suffered the most in the recent times. They were not only forced to leave the Lyari area but upon their return they were greeted with bullets and rockets by gangsters operating in the area.

The question then arises: is the Sindh Rangers capable enough to thwart unrest in Karachi?

The Rangers is often mistaken as a military unit. However, a defence analyst recently clarified on a TV talk show that the Rangers come under civil defence and cannot be considered as an equivalent to the Pakistan Army. In recent times, the powers of Rangers units stationed in Karachi have been curbed to a great extent due to political interference and taking away the authority to make formal arrests and carry out investigations. With their feathers clipped, even the most effective fighting forces become impotent and compromised. Out of frustration, these soldiers then become trigger happy and end up shooting down innocent civilians. Their role in law enforcement is therefore being viewed with suspicion.

Why has the police failed to perform?

Political postings and out of turn promotions have already demoralised able officers, hence compromising the performance of an organisation which is supposed to be solely responsible for the law and order crisis in Karachi. The police-led Lyari operation of April 2012 is another bad patch in the history of Sindh police where the entire operation had to be called off prematurely due to political intervention and which resulted in the death of some very competent officers.

The stand-off and the following withdrawal demoralised the police to a great extent. Similarly, a police encounter at Safari Park in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal area ended up on a sad note with casualties inflicted by the police. Surprisingly, some higher-ups in the police department cleared the names of the men arrested after the encounter as innocent bystanders. It was the CCTV footage leaked by media channels which blew up the whole story and pointed towards vested interests in the case. This again has demoralised the police who, after losing some of its best men, had to witness the guilty ones being protected by their own bosses.

So how can the Army deliver in Karachi?

The Pakistan Army is a disciplined organisation with great chain of command and almost zero tolerance for traitors and enemies of the state. If the army is given full authority and power to complete a task, it goes in full throttle and establishes state writ no matter what it takes. In the case of Karachi, the army should be given full authority to carry out raids, make arrests, try the criminals in military courts and dispense speedy justice which they are fully capable of doing.

Karachi has bled badly in the past and now it seems to be breathing artificially on a ventilator. The Pakistan army is the only hope left and if given a chance, they can surely provide relief to Karachiites.

Arsalan Faruqi

Arsalan Faruqi

An entrepreneur with a degree in computer engineering and an MBA from IBA Karachi. He tweets as @arsalanfaruqi (

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

  • Parvez

    If you had said this in the early 50’s I would have sided with you but today as know hindsight is 20 / 20…………..I am at a loss, for I trust no one.

  • Syed

    What these politicians and judiciary are doing is an exercise in futality. Just analyse the facts that these judges have failed to punish a single criminal, arrested by these police and Rangers personnel at the cost of their lives. These judges are covering their deciet by humiliating and showing their annoyance on DG Rangers and Police IG.
    These fraud degree politicians, who grabbed power by sale purchase of votes and constituencies in the name of democracy are blaming each other. These so called politicians are the actual gang leaders and have least concern for the people, who are dying everyday for the Bhatta, as they have shares in that Bhatta. Police is deployed for Bhatta collections as reported by your Newspapers. This drama will have no results till both these groups, i.e. politicians and the judges are not thrown out of this drama. If Army is called in with both gangs still interfering they will create a civil war condition against the Army, as was done by Bhutta in Baluchistan.
    If Army comes in they should operate independently,with Military Courts and dispose these criminals out otherwise these politicians and judges will conspire against Army. Recommend

  • Aysha M

    Excellent blog Arsalan
    We in Karachi have trained ourselves to be passive and what we see today in our beloved home city is an outcome of decades of our indifference to the city which not only feeds us but the country.
    We are supposedly the most educated segment of the population in Karachi but we have never able able to develop a vision for the future of our city. We have never raised the fundamental questions. We the civil society of Karachi has been criminally negligent of our collective responsibility to watch over our interests.
    Two things I would like to know more about.
    Where is all this weapon coming into Karachi when there is not a single manufacturing factory in the city. Why can it not be ceased before making it to Karachi?
    Why can we not have a powerful city government? All mega cities around the world have independent and effective city governments with political, administrative and financial mandate. City governments have policing, transport and utilities under them. If you don’t want to look at London, New York, Sydney or Paris, look at Vietnam, manila or Bangkok, even Dhaka. Life in Karachi will never be fixed until managed by elected representatives and not appointed bureaucrats.

    I like to believe that solidarity among Karachities is subcutaneous. Karachites may they belong to MQM, PPP, PTI ANP, JI PML-N, PML-F or ST, any other political force will stand together and fight for a powerful local government, nothing else can fix Karachi.

    All are welcome to work in the citybut they have to demonstrably become a Karachite and behave like one, which means that all need to look beyond party lines and fight for a strong city government.

    A famous catch phrase by Tom Cruise, ‘HELP ME HELP YOU’ . I request all, ‘HELP KARACHI HELP PAKISTAN’. We in Karachi would like to earn more for you and continue and even enhance our contribution to the country’s economy, but for that we need help from the whole of Pakistan. Please support us in getting Karachi a city government that functions.

    The civil society, political parties, the media, the judiciary, the army, whatever it takes please help us help you.Recommend

  • palbollywoodlover

    now u people came to know why army is needed in an area……..thats why to fight terrorism india has a army in kashmir……..hope u dont remain double faced any more…Recommend

  • Aysha M

    You have army in Kashmir as a way of life. . . so much for democracy

    Karachi it is different, we need Army to engage and intervene, may it be tough love or light touch, it has to work in combination Recommend

  • Rizwan Javaid

    As we all know about situation of Karachi. Land of Karachi is bleeding everyday in the absence of law and order in the city. The thing is that Political parties have their own target killers, just kill one man of the opposite party and they’ll kill your three. Bhatta Khoori, Bori culture we all know who are running and promoting this system in Karachi, Great Milestone of our Democratic govt.
    This time they are not in Govt and they want Army in Karachi.. wah Recommend

  • iLiberal

    Read your article and could not agree more. The way things are going with the Federal government refusing to conduct an operation inside Lyari and the CM Sind, Qaim Ali Shah, leading the so called targeted operation, things will not improve in the city. The only solution is a city wide operation by the military and the criminals be punished by military courts.Recommend

  • Aamir

    Yes army should come and clean karachi from militant wings of all the parties operation should not be just against PAC but agianst all criminals operation shoube clean karachi from all crimnals Recommend

  • masooma junaid

    i totally agree! its time to bring army in the city!Recommend

  • Morons

    Army is the only solution at this hour!! Not because it will operate against gangsters but also military wings of political parties and also the militants of banned organisations in hiding in and around the outskirts of the city. I fully support the suggestion and as a Karachite will facilitate army within my capacity. We are all tired of this unrest!!Recommend

  • Hassan

    i don’t agree with you,on this point that DG rangers put the blame on political parties shoulder. If MQM and PPP and ANP is working without any militant wing then why police has started the arrest of MQM workers ? Why MQM is always become victim ? PPP is running the govt and ANP is out from Sindh politics after May 11 elections. My friend go and visit Jacob lines, if MQM allow you to enter. you will surly change your above statement. Secondly Rangers is under federal Govt control and orders come from Islamabad and Islamabad knew this thing very well that situation in Karachi will deteriorate if they allow rangers to carry out operation on massive scale against militant wings. I recommend a solution, Give interior ministry to MQM and see the result. those who are “BADMASH” give them responsibility.. Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    The army has not come from Mars. They are like us, as corrupt and brutal as we are. Only difference is that, men in khaki do not get many opportunities, therefore cannot prove their skills. The difference between army and civil administration is that, civilians start showing their skills from day one but men in khaki take time, give impression of toughness and honesty and when price is right, snatch it like a lion. After one month of army operation, this blogger and others will be begging it to leave, but then army won’t leave. It will take over whole Pakistan. You give human flesh to a lion, it will not eat anything else.Recommend

  • Saeeda Abubaker

    We talk…we discuss….we comment…..we blog…..we editorialize…..enough already ….get the army into Karachi..NOW..declare a type of martial law…..make the Karachi wallas uneasy….have a curfew….do what ever is need to stem the violence in the killing fields of Karachi strong textRecommend

  • rana

    I agree with the blogger that army should be brought in Karachi to combat target killing, extortion and terrorism. However, when was in government they never demanded military to take over Karachi and operate. This is over my head. Recommend

  • Abdulla Deewana

    I am amazed at how Pakitsanis are always so eagerly fond of living under martial law. Recommend

  • Syed

    @Abdulla Deewana:
    The area constituting Pakistan had been ruled since centuries by the Waderah and Sardars, who used to get honorarium from British government for their loyalties. Since independence these blood sucking Waderas and Sardars are keeping their control by sale and purchase of votes and constituencies in so called elections, in the name of democracy. They don’t allow any qualified, competent leadership with brains to come in Pakistan. Our legislative assemblies contain 80 % fraud degree MNAs and MPAs. This illiterate lot of politicians just invests their black / ill earned money into elections to get power and then multiply their investment by plundering government treasury and even the people. Plundering of Hajjis, selling of ephedrine, getting kickbacks of 481 m $ in Motor Way (investing the same in India), swindling of Rs.12 billion in one day by our premiers and president are very recent examples. Now they have directed all their effort to Bhatta mafia and failed to provide security to common people and traders. Most of the investors have already left the country, due to fear of life. As the last resort people are praying for the Army to come in check this anarchy. The Army always came in on the outcry of the common people, when these politicians miserably failed to protect human rights and endangered country’s solidarity and existence. Recommend

  • iLiberal

    @Abdulla Deewana: I’d rather live under a martial law than die under a democracy. Recommend

  • Faisal Tasleem

    Good writing Arslan…Recommend

  • iWise

    @ iLiberal

    Unwise choice.
    A glib remark or quick wit doesn’t make a bad choice,smart.Recommend