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Big city, bigger problems

Pakistan on 18 November 2013
Location : Karachi | Source : Nation. Flickr User Modenadude

Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan, and also its financial hub. The city has it all: A diverse populace, sandy beaches, big bazaars buzzing with shoppers, target killers, gangsters, and now…the new lot in town, the Taliban. For the last few years, various political parties, MQM being the most vocal on the issue, have raised serious concerns over the “Talibanisation” of the city.

But, legitimate concerns hardly ever prompt action. Around here, things must always get really, really bad before they get any better, assuming that they ever do. In the past, Ashura processions have been viciously targeted with bullets and bomb blasts. This year was to be no exception had Rangers and Police not conducted critical operations.

Three Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists were gunned down and a Ranger martyred (no offence to Mr Munawar Hassan), during an encounter in Gulshan-e-Bunair, Landhi, where TTP operatives were devising a strategy to target Ashura processions in the metropolis. In Karachi’s Mauripur area, 6 highly-armed LeJ militants were killed in a shootout against CID police personnel. Furthermore, in a raid on a house in Quaidabad area, the city chief of TTP, Shahabullah, was arrested along with four other militants.

Thankfully, while their nefarious plots have been foiled, there remains the alarming fact that TTP has a city chief for Karachi. That just doesn’t happen in a day. It takes months of work for banned outfits to establish their footprint in a city, and they have clearly achieved that milestone, perhaps taking full advantage of the hospitality of local law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Personalities are dispensable for TTP.

Baitullah Mehsud was replaced by Hakimullah, and he has now been replaced by Mullah Fazlullah. The organisation is still intact, and very much able to prolong its killing spree. So, while it’s great that the ‘TTP-Karachi mayor’ has been nabbed, it can be said with certainty that he will be swiftly replaced by another talented, mischievous chief. It’s essential to effectively target and dismantle the terrorist network to achieve long-lasting results. Otherwise, the security agencies will continue to find themselves rushing to shady sites around the city, foiling terrorism plots at the last minute. One wrong step, one minute late, and several innocent civilians and brave security personnal pay with their blood. That, in essence, is a failed system.

While it is necessary to point out flaws in the system, and call for improved co-ordination between intelligence agencies, the recent performance by Rangers and Police to foil plots against Ashura must be commended. Poor equipment, low salaries, a very real possibility of revenge attacks – nothing could deter these brave men from answering the call of duty. A grateful and proud nation salutes them.

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