By: Aaron Lion
Karachi holds about 20% of total national GDP and 10% of industry of Pakistan, generating 53% of federal revenue. It is revealed by the sources that industrialists of Karachi has given final warning to Sindh Government for the closure of industrial operations across the city’s industrial areas, as Government and its allies are safeguarding “Bhatta Mafia” and other criminal elements into the Industrial zones of Karachi, looting and ruining the industrialists and their workforce.
The killing of the 22-year-old son of a factory owner, Mr. Waqas, in SITE was the last straw on Monday for a community that has made repeated pleas to the government to end extortion and kidnapping in the area.
Already, about 10,000 investors have shifted their businesses to various areas and cities of Punjab as the consequences of the persistent poor law and order situation. The everyday extortion and spontaneous violence in Karachi had resulted in transfer of investments from the country’s commercial city to Punjab, said Chairman All Karachi Tajir Ittihad, Muhammad Atiq Mir. He said a huge deployment of police was made to protect the politicians, whereas public had been left at the mercy of target-killers in the city. “Also, the tax payers (traders) and revenue generators have been left at the mercy of extortionists,” Mir said.
Government authorities have been being requested to control the increasing extortion, kidnapping and killing of businessmen and industrialists. Instead of provision of any remedy, they were gifted of the Shershah Massacre.
Shershah Kabari (Scrap) Market massacre
Before, details, let us have a look over a few media video reports and details of the incident:
On October 19, 2010, unidentified motorcycle riders sprayed people with bullets in Sher Shah Kabari market in the evening. The number of attackers was told at six, riding three motorbikes. The armed attackers entered Sher Shah Kabari Market and opened indiscriminate firing, killing at least 12 people. Afterwards, they successfully fled the scene amid high alert security at the entry and exit points of the market. The eyewitnesses told Geo News that the miscreants, wearing helmets, went on firing spree for five minutes, triggering the panicked people to break up in stampede. In coming days, as many as 13 people were killed and six others were injured on October 19, 2010 when armed men sprayed the shopkeepers with bullets on their refusal to pay them extortion.
Later, A case (FIR 578/2010) was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 324 (attempted murder), 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at the Pak Colony police station on a complaint of a survivor, Mohammad Nafees. The Coordination Committee of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), has strongly condemned the killing and said that the worst part of it was the fact that those criminals were roaming scot-free.
Soon arrangements were made by “hidden hands” and a plot was planned to befool the judiciary and Litigation. At the First Point, the accused nine men have surrendered to the police and then Nine suspects, who had allegedly confessed to being involved in the Shershah market carnage, were acquitted on Wednesday because of a lack of evidence and witness testimony.
The Investigation Officer ( IO) stated before the Justice Sajjad Ali Shah of the Sindh High Court that despite all efforts by him none of the witnesses was ready to identify any of the accused. The halfhearted request for the extension of remand by the IO was without any purpose, the Court said in detailed order. The court then directed the police to release the accused men under section 497 (2) of the CrPC after they furnish personal bonds before the IO. These criminals are still at large and their activities are increasing.
Doctors leaving Karachi after extortion and murders of their colleagues
Dr. Imran Wasi of Lyari General Hospital, 55, was heading to his clinic in Ranchore Line when he was killed on January 20, 2011. As his car slowed down over a speed bump, two men on a motorcycle shot him several times and hit his temple, cheek and shoulder. He was taken to Lyari hospital, where the doctors pronounced him dead. Later, his body was taken for an autopsy to Civil Hospital, Karachi, where several members of his family had gathered.
Duty officer Muhammad Israr believed that this was not a case of snatching or theft as the doctor’s personal belongings, such as wallet, mobile phone and his watch were not stolen. A shopkeeper, who witnessed the murder, reported that they had shot the doctor three times, but they missed once. “The suspects did not fear the police while they were shooting and escaping. They collected the empty shells from the crime scene before fleeing to the Jumman Shah Plot area,” he recounted. “If you know Lyari, you can easily understand that no criminal or resident can go to the Jumman Shah Plot area. That is the PAC stronghold.”
A few months, earlier in June 2010, a 52-year-old Dr. Zahid Hussain was in his car when unidentified assailants opened fire on him and escaped from the scene. According to details, armed suspects, riding a motorcycle, targeted a middle-aged doctor soon after he left his clinic, the Al-Masiha Medical Centre, in Landhi No 4. Dr Zahid Hussain was the 85th doctor to have been killed in Karachi since 1990. He was killed for not paying the extortion money to the gangsters.
Dr. Wasi, a resident of Hamid Square in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block-3, had been working at Lyari General Hospital for the past 15 years. Last year, at least nine doctors were killed in the city, according to the Pakistan Medical Association’s (PMA) Karachi chapter. And with this latest killing, residents of a Karachi neighborhood known for its declining healthcare facilities have been deprived of an ENT specialist. Dr. Imran was the 10th doctor killed in Karachi since May 2010.
After the murder, doctors announced kept the (OPDs) of the Civil Hospital, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Association (JPMC) and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital closed. The doctors from Civil Hospital held a protest demonstration against the killing the demanded the arrest of those behind the incident. The protesting medical practitioners also urged the government to ensure security to the doctors and paramedical staff. Meanwhile, a large number of patients faced difficulties as the doctors in Civil Hospital, Jinah Post Graduate Medical Centre, Sindh Government Hospital New Karachi, Liaqatabad, Korangi and Hyderabad Civil Hospital refused to practice.
Tragic is that, according to a report around 50 medical professionals have gone into hiding after getting chits or phone calls from extortionists who have threatened to kill them if they didn’t comply. Chairman Doctors Joint Action Committee (DJAC) Professor Idrees Adhi said that some 74 doctors have so far become the victim of extortionists. Addressing a news conference at Pakistan Medical Association, Professor Idrees Adhi said that 10 doctors have been killed in the year 2010. “So far 74 doctors have contacted me. They informed me that the minimum amount demanded by these extortionists was one million rupees,” he said. He said that doctors in Landhi, Korangi, Malir and other area are receiving threat from extortion mafia and living in perpetual fear.
HUNDREDS OF doctors in Karachi are in hiding or fleeing the country to escape a wave of extortion and murder specifically targeting the medical community.
Healthcare in Karachi is under siege according to doctors’ leaders as terrified medics close their clinics and go underground as they wait to emigrate. Political parties backed mafia is looting the people from all walks of life, destroying the social, economical and political structure of the city.
Rising incidents of extortion and kidnappings for ransom of leading businessmen and corporate leaders have sent jitters across the business and trading community in Karachi, where more than 100 kidnappings have took place last year, officials and businessmen said.
Kidnappers usually target businessmen, shopkeepers and corporate leaders or in some cases even their high-school going children, they said. Most victims and officials like to remain tight-lipped about these cases for security reasons. In one of the latest high-profile kidnappings, Chief Operating Officer of a leading company was abducted on gun-point from the industrial estate of Bin Qasim in late December 2010. The victim, whose name is not being disclosed on family’s request, remains hostage to-date as efforts are being made for his release by negotiating the ransom money.
Political involvement in extortion, kidnapping and murders (target killings)
But kidnapping for ransom is not the only issue dampening sentiment of the business community. There also has been a tremendous rise in extortion since this democratic government took power in 2008. “Criminalisation of politics and politicisation of crime is the biggest problem in Karachi,” says a former IG police, requesting anonymity, who served in Sindh in various important positions for several years. “All the major political parties have criminals in their ranks and they are protected and patronised by politicians.”
Most of the characters of Lyari Gang war belong to Pakistan People’s Party. Rehman Baloch AKA Rehman Dacait was the most prominent leader of PPP in Lyari and in Lyari – a PPP stronghold in Karachi – his name and legacy seem to have survived. The Peoples Amn Committee, which Rehman founded in June 2008 following a truce with his rival, Arshad Pappu, helped end the protracted Lyari gang war, which claimed more than 300 lives during the last couple of years of the former PML-Q-led government in Sindh. But after the February 2008 general elections, the formation of the PPP-led governments both at the centre and Sindh province enabled Rehman and his men to try to change their image. And they really worked hard for this transformation. Rehman Dakait was killed late Sunday 9 August 2009 by Karachi Police, along with his three accomplices.
For human rights activists like Iqbal Haider, a former PPP leader, some criminals do humanitarian work to win acceptance and support. “It is basically a cover-up. It should not change the reality that they break the law and resort to heinous crimes.”
“We have been PPP supporters all along, the Pappu group were backed by the MQM,” says Thirty-year-old Uzair Ali Baloch, who is a first cousin of Rehman. Pappu is now in jail. “When the PPP government came…we all were happy. But its representatives here have disappointed us. They did nothing for the people. They were always found wanting. That’s why the committee started its work.”
Dozens of supporters belonging both to the MQM and the peace committee have been killed in recent months in tit-for-tat killings, which were halted in the second week of January 2010 after President Asif Ali Zardari himself, intervened.
A few reports about the Involvement of PPP, ANP and MQM into the civili war in Karachi: