CJP showers praise on police, Rangers

Pakistan on 31 October 2013
Location : Karachi, Pakistan | Source : Dawn. Image Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday observed that the security situation in Karachi could not improve until the menace of illegal weapons, drugs and black money was dealt with, with zero tolerance.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and also comprising Justices Jawad S. Khawaja and Gulzar Ahmed was seized with the implementation proceedings of the Karachi suo motu case judgment.

“The situation in the city will be normalised if the smuggled arms and narcotics are restricted across the city,” the CJP said, adding that illegal weapons were one of the biggest issues in the city.

The chief justice asked customs officials what actions they had taken to curb the smuggling of arms and ammunition and said that the court had provided details in that regard but no positive response was given by the authorities concerned.

Expressing satisfaction and praise over the performance of Karachi police, CJ Chaudhry asked the customs officials to prove themselves equal to the job and play their due role in eliminating illegal weapons.

After going through the reports filed by police and Rangers, he said that the police and Rangers had begun to realise their responsibility as they were making efforts to arrest criminals in the city.

At the outset of the hearing, the CJP inquired from advocate general Khalid Javed about the overall impact of actions by the law enforcers against criminal elements. The AG submitted that there had been tremendous improvement in the law and order situation in the city.

However, the provincial government’s chief law officer conceded that parts of crime-infested Lyari were still disturbed due to the ongoing violence in the vicinity. He said that gangsters were engaged in infighting in some pockets of Lyari, but all-out efforts were being made to control the situation.

One of the bench members asked the advocate general about steps taken to control street crime in the city. He said there were certain areas, including Sharea Faisal, where street crimes were rampant.

The AG told the court that the overall security situation was improving as a number of criminals had been arrested.

The chief justice remarked that citizens wanted to live together peacefully, but anti-social elements wanted to take hold of the city by grabbing its economy.

Giving details of crimes and actions taken by police, the AG said 6,840 suspects had been arrested in 5,196 raids conducted since Sept 5. He said the arrested included 219 proclaimed offenders and 2,359 absconders, and 97 people had been killed from Sept 5 to Oct 27 in different parts of the city.

The Rangers also filed their report regarding the raids and arrests of suspects who were later handed over to police for further legal action.

The bench asked the counsel for Rangers, Advocate Shahid Anwar Bajwa, whether the paramilitary force followed the cases of those arrested and handed over by them to police.

The counsel submitted that the Rangers handed over the culprits arrested by them to police, who registered FIRs and charge-sheeted them in court. He further said that several culprits were also being interrogated by a joint investigation team.

The chief justice observed that the security situation could not improve until arrested suspects were sent for trial.

The bench took up the issue of arms smuggling into the city and asked the chief collector of customs about steps taken to curb the menace.

The customs collector conceded that illegal arms were trickling into the city, but through land routes not through sea. He also admitted that the custom authorities had not seized any smuggled weapons in the recent past.

As for the evasion of custom duty on the imported goods, the chief justice hinted that the court could order the Rangers to check each and every container leaving the port for 15 days to get the truth. “It is a very dismal situation that no one is ready to apprise the court of the truth,” he said, and added that the country suffered huge losses due to tax evasion and smuggling of goods as the relevant authorities were not performing their duties.

The custom collector informed the court that there was an acute shortage of staff in the custom department as no fresh recruitments had been made in the department for the past 19 years.

The bench issued a notice to the federal finance secretary to give a reply that why appointments were not made in customs to fill the existing vacancies.

The bench also issued a notice to the chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue asking him to appear in person before court and tell it about efforts made by the board to control smuggling and tax evasion.

The court also issued a notice to the director general of the Anti-Narcotics Force for not controlling the menace of narcotics in the city and directed him to appear in court with a detailed reply.

The bench also issued a notice to the respondents in an application filed by the displaced families of workers of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (Pakistan), better known as the MQM Haqiqi, against the existence of ‘no-go’ areas in the city.

The applicants submitted that they were unable to go back to their homes due to life threats. The bench would take up the issue on Thursday.

The bench asked the city police chief about the existence of ‘no-go areas’ for activists of the political party. The city police chief conceded that there were some political complications in the matter. The bench asked him not to be afraid of any political expediency and take action against those who challenged the writ of state. Meanwhile, a federal law officer filed reports of the interior ministry and Pakistan Coast Guards in a sealed envelope.

The hearing was adjourned to Wednesday.

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