Crackdown brings apparent lull in Karachi violence
06 October, 2013
KARACHI: Rampant violence has terrorised Karachi but a recent security crackdown seems to have brought a lull in the bloodshed.
Kidnappings for ransom, sectarian attacks and gang warfare have spiralled since 2008, terrifying the city's 18 million inhabitants and prompting tens of thousands of businessmen to flee to the safety of Punjab.
The city claimed a grisly record last year as 2,124 people were murdered on its streets, according to the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), the highest number since records began nearly 20 years ago.
But an operation by police and paramilitary government Rangers in the city's tangled maze of teeming streets, launched early September on the orders of the central government, seems to be having some positive effect.
The CPLC said that in September 155 killings were reported – down from 280 in August. With a total of 2,058 murders up to the end of September 2013 it is on course to beat last year's record, but the crackdown appears to have at least slowed the killings.
Aftab Chunar, the head of the autopsy department of Civil Hospital, said that before the operation he was receiving 16 to 18 bodies a day. Now the figure has fallen to three or four.
The crackdown has seen Rangers use powerful motorbikes to chase suspects down the narrow, twisting streets which remained off-limits in previous missions using heavy vehicles.
Hundreds of alleged target killers, extortionists and gangsters have been arrested since the start of the operation, Rangers and police say.
Fateh Muhammad Burfat, professor of sociology and criminology at Karachi University, said the crackdown seemed to be working.
"Peace seems to have returned to the city and the common man, after a long time, has breathed a sigh of relief," he said.