You forced me to break the law, Qaim Ali Shah!

Published: June 10, 2016

Over the past few years, citizens have watched helplessly as theft of automobiles and their spare parts is on the rise in the city. PHOTO: STOCK IMAGE

I’m not the kind of person who speeds through a red light, even if the drivers of vehicles behind me honk loudly enough to wake up the dead. I have a healthy respect for the law. So, when my son was deprived of his smart phone and 10 thousand rupees last month, I advised him to immediately report the crime to the police and the CPLC.

He smiled indulgently, saying that once you go to the cops they will never let you rest in peace and you’ll have to pay them a handsome amount to stop hounding you.

I don’t blame him.

The cops in Karachi are uncouth louts, most of whom cannot even speak Urdu, being political appointees from the rural areas of Sindh and Punjab.

God help you if you are with your wife and they stop you to search your car. They will take a long time doing it, all the time looking at your wife as if they’ve never seen a woman before.

So, when I parked my car this Sunday in Saddar (a locality in the heart of the city), the thought did cross my mind that a heroin addict might steal the side mirrors of my car (it had happened twice before, during the last three years). And that is exactly what happened.

When I returned after fifteen minutes, I found that one side mirror had been hacked off. I wonder why he didn’t take the other one. Perhaps he saw me coming and ran away.

The first thing I did was to look around for a cop.

Of course, none was there, all of them having been commandeered by the chief minister to protect his mansion from people who were protesting against the water shortage in Karachi.

For those who don’t know, as of 2014, Karachi has approximately 30,000 cops, 10,000 of whom are ‘ghost’ cops, another 10,000 are perpetually on leave, while the remaining 10,000 are assigned to those VVIPs who are ministers and members of the assembly. The result, of course, is a complete absence of law and order, with muggers and thieves free to loot the people who pay the taxes which are meant to be spent on their welfare.

I now had a choice:

1) Either I could ask the insurance company to replace the side mirror,


2) Buy one from a shop selling stolen goods.

The last time my side mirrors had been pilfered, the insurance company had asked me to pay half the amount, and it had taken three days to complete the formalities, during which time I had been compelled to rent a car.

This time, I decided to break the law: I bought the side mirror from a shop selling stolen goods in the Tariq Road area, paying only half of what I would have had to pay if the insurance company had arranged it.

And it took only half an hour, instead of three days.

So it wasn’t such a bad deal.

Of course, if Mr Qaim Ali Shah had done what he was elected to do, like assigning the police to catch those indulging in street crimes, instead of using the cops for his personal use, it would never have come to this pass.

Under the circumstances, can you blame me for breaking the law?

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Shakir Lakhani

Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (

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

  • maz3tt

    Sir, if you were minister’s relative your side mirror would have been ”baramad” in 1 hour. Our Politicians will not be able to operate if these gangs are busted, so the police don’t catch them.Recommend

  • Kushal

    Sensible article.. Valid for the entire subcontinent.
    “This time, I decided to break the law: I bought the side mirror from a shop selling stolen goods in the Tariq Road area, paying only half of what I would have had to pay if the insurance company had arranged it.”
    Good decision no doubt. But there is a possibility that you might have ended up “buying” your very own side-mirror stolen earlier.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    “son was deprived of his smart phone and Rs.10,000 last month.”
    Was the son visiting from a village? Say, somewhere from the interior?
    Everyone and his brother knows YOU carry two phones. A cheap one,
    AND the real one, which is strapped to your ankle OR thigh. Not just in Karachi
    but anywhere in the Indo-Pak sub-continent
    And the money, if it is a huge amount, strapped to your thigh. NOT in a wallet
    or your pocket…..Sorry, your sun was asking for it. Recommend

  • Nomad1412

    Talk about Pakistan, I don’t know anyone in India who uses two phones, a cheap one and a “real” one, strapped to their thigh.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    He had two phones, they searched his car and found the expensive one (Iphone) under one of the seats. They took both. The cash was in his wallet (two five thousand rupees notes). They didn’t take his credit card and the small notes. It happened in Korangi Industrial Area of Karachi at 8 o’clock in the night.Recommend

  • gp65

    Sorry. Disagree with your attempt to make it an Indo-Pak issue. People openly carry their iPhones in Mumbai and Ahmedabad – 2 cities I am very familiar with.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    That’s because Indians live in a dream world.
    Not the real one. Therefore the fake comments.
    Could be you don’t know there is a caste system in India.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    That’s because Indians live in a dream world.
    Not the real one. Therefore the fake comments.
    Could be you don’t know there is a caste system in India.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    Bombay, eh? In the Great Secular country of Hindia.
    Where they kidnap or buy children from villages, and bring
    them to the cities to be beggars. Same city where they
    forcefully blind children, to be more, shall we say, acceptable
    to the common hindu on the street,…. as beggars
    Something that would make Charles Dickens writhe in his grave.
    Oliver Twist, Artful Dodger, Fagin…could all take lessons from
    Bombay’s teeming underbelly, in the finer points of illicit activities.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    The name Korangi Industrial Area defines a lot. Not a residential or retail area. Perhaps very few people about at night. Not high traffic.
    [this is just guesswork]
    At 8 o’clock at night, they had all the time to search his car and
    his person, at their leisure. Seems like the troglodyte criminals
    are getting wiser too.
    As an aside, in Bombay they carry their money in their socks.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    My relatives in Bombay say that if one buys a car there, before he gets home, someone calls him to pay ten percent of the value of the car the next day. Apparently Bombay is not much different from Karachi, with street crime being rampant over there as well.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    My father would laugh if i asked him for a second phone based on your logic.
    I live in Punjab and i have never had a problem like this.
    Phones are stolen,yes,but not to such a large extent.
    This problem is only local to Karachi.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    Good thing your father buys YOU things. Say, ask
    him for a bicycle? So you can commute, to the local
    Mall, and eat your samosas and pans. On second thought,
    nix that idea. He might go into a uncontrollable laughing fit,Recommend

  • Misha Khan

    I’m sorry, but you just perpetuated the cycle of thievery. I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you that buying from these people creates a demand in the market for stolen items. And someone else gets robbed, and so on. A man of principles shouldn’t let go of them for such a thing as convenience. Disappointed.Recommend

  • gp65

    Your whole rant has nothing to do with the fact that people do NOT carry two phones in Mumbai whereas you implied that the practice was common in India and Pakistan.Recommend

  • gp65

    Seriously, stop making stuff up about Bombay. You have no idea what you are talking about.Recommend

  • gp65

    What does caste system have to do with phone theft?Recommend

  • gp65

    What you say was true in the period of 1998-1999. But there was a strong police commissioner who put an end to such criminal activities. This is no longer true about Bombay.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    Everything. Your whole life is effected and shaped by this
    caste system. When millions of low castes, Untouchables, Dalits, disenfranchised members of the population have no
    means to make an honest living, then they regress to crime.
    You can only have so many street cleaners, sewer workers, toilet cleaners, leather workers, trash collectors and so on.
    They are trapped in their castes. Nowhere to go. No upward mobility. No schools. No education. No escape.
    Except down,Recommend

  • Bibloo

    Rising Hindia. Shining Hindia, Vermillion Hindia.
    Land of 2 billion hindu saints. Who rise in the
    morning, praise their creators, and
    go about their business, with a perpetual smile stitched
    to their face. Everything peachy, hunky dory.They look
    benignly at the Muslim, Christians and other minorities.
    Crime? What crime! There is no such thing in Hindia.
    Also, women, do not have to go out, under heavy guard,
    to do grocery shopping. Or try to scurry and scuttle back
    home,..unnoticed. Otherwise they become the object of
    unwanted adoration, affection and devotion by gangs of
    men, cruising the streets. All foreign tourists, specially,
    women avoid Hindia now. Because of this unwanted attention
    bestowed and showered on women.
    Hail Hindia.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    When you are faced with the truth, and it stings, then it
    becomes somebody’s rant. Keep your head buried in
    the sand.
    Perhaps you must have been doing body searches, conducting surveys, perusing police reports to come with
    this revelation, this fact, about a No Two Phone Policy in
    Bombay. Unfortunately, all your hard work amounted to
    zilch. Because facts are undeniable facts.
    Keep up your jingoist nationalism,…. fluttering.Recommend