A city on edge

Year after year in Pakistan we see the security situation drop another notch, a bit more of crime becomes acceptable and we go through our paces as if nothing is wrong with us or this society. This year the notorious activities of criminals in Karachi have gone up another level, as from the start of this holy month where people are supposed to exercise restraint things have gone ugly pretty fast.

Not a day goes by where you do not hear of someone you know being either held at gunpoint, kidnapped, conned or made a mamu of in some way shape and form. It ranges from cell phones to car jackings to mass robberies of entire neighborhoods and the police are either totally out gunned or more interested in making sure their record for their particular area stays completely clear (by not noting reports of incidents) then taking any action. Most of the criminals involved have the backing of politicos who sit and wax lyrical about the state of this country on our tv channels thus even if the police tried to take action the norm is a phone call from above resulting in the said criminals (chotas) release.

The CPLC has been doing some remarkable work on this front in recent years but lets call a spade a spade they are a liaison committee not a parallel police force so there are limits to what they can do.  The result is that now mohalla committees have gone into action and started installing barricades all over their neighborhoods with armed guards on them. People often object to these barricades but do not realize that when the state leaves a vacuum someone has to fill it. This is however just the beginning and its not very hard to see compound life being the future of the residential colony in Pakistan with huge walls and armed sharpshooters to keep the ruffians out. D.H.A residents seem to think an electronic entry and exit system to their privileged community should be able to keep the evil at bay, perhaps we will need a visa to go to certain zones of Karachi soon as well.

At this moment in time though the city of lights is deserted and helpless at night. One cannot make any stops between origin and destination lest they are carjacked and things like going to the beach or the highway have really become out of the question after dark. So we are getting restricted, more and more with each passing day. If someone does not get somewhere on time the automatic creepy thoughts start entering your head. As a parent of two young kids who go to school here I personally start to breathe after they are home not before when they are in school.

So what is the solution to all this?. A local police force would be good to start with. One that is as equipped as the people who are trying to rob us would be better. For this I am sure the citizens of this city would be willing to pay whatever tax the said authorities place on us. It would be cheaper than the bhatta all of us have to pay daily in the form of panic, fear, actual theft and so on. However this will also mean that the citizens that is us need to get together and speak out not snigger away when someone loses their new phone. We need to demand our rights from the state and that does not mean making phone calls to someones friends chachas batijha who is in a political party, it means going to the concerned authorities as one and asking for help.

Many people are now leaving Pakistan from the business and the corporate community with each passing day. In the past it used to be out of  better economic opportunity being present abroad, but now it is because they cannot live in this country out of fear of being harassed or killed in their day to day lives.

I think we are now standing at a crossroads. One path leads to a struggle to uplift this nation and the other falls into an abyss from which recovery does not seem possible. If we wish to save this country we have thrived in for our future generations we will have to now take the difficult path..there is no other choice.