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Sindh boosts security, restores law and order

Pakistan on 15 July 2013
Location : Karachi, Pakistan | Source : Central Asia Online. Image Source: Central Asia Online

KARACHI – Police in Karachi are increasing security across the board as well as providing private security to high-profile political and religious leaders in newly enhanced efforts to counter law-and-order challenges in the heart of Sindh Province, officials told Central Asia Online.

In response to criminal and terrorist violence leading up to and including the June 26 terrorist attack on Sindh High Court Judge Justice Maqbool Baqir, Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Qaim Ali Shah July 2 ordered an all-out security boost to restore peace to the city.

Though Baqir survived with injuries, his driver, six policemen and two Rangers were killed and 15 other people were injured. The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility.

Shah's directive aims not only to tighten security but to shatter the networks of the criminal and militant elements who threaten political figures, Tariq Imam, Shah's chief minister, told Central Asia Online. Shah met with leaders of the law enforcement community – the police and the Rangers – to motivate them and spur them into action.

Security levels on the rise
Authorities have taken swift measures to stabilise and improve security. Places previously considered "no-go" areas are now open after police and Ranger raids on terrorist and criminal hideouts in Lyari, Liaqatabad, Banaras and Manghopir, they say.

One of those raids led to the arrest of the alleged Baqar attack mastermind, police said July 3. They caught the suspect during a late-night July 2 raid in the Manghopir area, police said, without releasing his name because of the on-going investigation.

Rangers June 21 raided the Lyari residence of Uzair Baloch, the former leader of the banned Peoples Aman Committee (PAC). The raid led to the arrests of several wanted suspects.

The provincial government is providing security to certain VIPs already and political parties' requests for additional protection are under consideration, Imam said. It also plans to hire about 20,000 policemen in 2013-14 to further strengthen the security network in the province.

The CM has started paying surprise visits to police stations and check-points to monitor their performance and to provide them with additional motivation, Imam added.

On July 4, Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ghulam Qadir Thebo directed senior police officials to provide security to high-ranking political and religious leaders, as well as to businessmen, Sindh Police spokesman Dr. Muizzuddin Pirzada told Central Asia Online. Thebo ordered them to beef up snap checks, patrols and check-point vigilance and to co-ordinate with other security agencies in better protecting railway stations and other transport centres, mosques and other places of worship, and shopping malls.

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) personnel arrested 59 terrorists and 23 target killers and recovered 123 hand grenades and several bullets in the arrests, Pirzada said.

Government responsibility to protect civilians
For years, sectarian and ethnic tensions have meant a staggering death toll in Karachi. The city registered 3,105 murders in 2012.

"The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is the biggest victim of terrorism in Karachi," MQM spokesman Nasir Jamal told Central Asia Online. "Terrorists have murdered three elected members of the Sindh Assembly [two in 2013 and one in 2010] and several workers as well." The MQM lost more members to targeted killings in Karachi than did any other party in 2009 through 2011, the Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies determined in a 2012 study.

"We have requested protection for our elected members of Parliament and the Sindh Assembly who have been threatened by the Taliban," Jamal said, adding that threats were preventing MQM representatives from moving freely about their constituencies and serving the residents.

"Despite on-going targeted operations, the terrorists are hitting the persons and places of their choice when and where they wish," Jamal said. "We have received complaints from our members that terrorists are shadowing MQM elected representatives and their family members in Karachi."

The government is considering providing protection to high-ranking MQM leaders, Imam said in response.

"The [MQM]'s demand for security guards for its leaders is justified," he told Central Asia Online, confirming the recent attacks.

"It is the obligation of the government to protect... leaders, political workers and the people," he added.

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