Pakistani Rangers take position during a search operation in the Apsara Apartment in Liuaqtabad in Karachi yesterday.
ISLAMABAD: The federal government has noted with cautious satisfaction and optimism a discernible fall in target killings and incidence of kidnapping for ransom and extortion in Karachi after the “soft” launch of targeted campaign by the Rangers and police against identified criminals.
“Though the operation has not left any major impact on the public level because it has not caused a stir or storm as no offenders involved in heinous crimes have so far been killed in encounters as many expected, and only arrests have been made, it has produced results,” a senior official said.
Over the past one week when the drive was kicked off, it was only yesterday that five persons were killed in different incidents of violence in Karachi.
The rest of the period was relatively quiet.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s likely visit to Karachi shows his utmost seriousness, single-mindedness and commitment to restore peace in the metropolis. This will also encourage the Rangers to carry on the fight forcefully and give a push to the drive.
The official felt that the unmistakable message delivered by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his recent two-day visit to Karachi that there would be no mercy or leniency towards the criminals has apparently been received by the offenders in the right spirit.
He conceded that this may be a temporary calm and the real peace would return only after all the heartless troublemakers would be netted, tried and punished.
The official said all those apprehended on grave criminal charges would be brought to justice as per the law of the land, which was being tightened on the recommendations of a three-member committee comprising Federal Minister Zahid Hamid, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Senator Farough Naseem and Sindh Prosecutor General Shahadat Awan. The body is yet to hold its inaugural meeting.
The present action is totally different from previous campaigns when a number of criminals were shot dead by law enforcement agencies in shootouts. Then, not too many arrests were made, and extra-judicial eliminations were preferred as a solution.
Nearly eighty targeted operations have so far been carried out by the Rangers and police in different localities in which more than 100 persons of dubious record were apprehended. They include target killers, kidnappers for ransom and members of the outlawed organizations. During questioning, several of them disclosed their political affiliations.
A cabinet source said that it would be needless to demand that the criminals should be killed in encounters when the intended objective of the campaign could be achieved through other means.
Although federal authorities admit that the campaign would be a long haul and not a short-lived drive in view of the fact that the criminals are well-entrenched and well-armed, they are comforted to note that no hullabaloo has been raised by any political party as yet.
“This indicates that the operation is impartial, fair, non-partisan, and is not aimed at any specific political party contrary to the previous campaigns,” the source said and feared that some parties may raise objections at a later stage.
However, he recognised that conviction of the arrested identified criminals by courts would be an uphill task in the presence of the current legal framework as unimpeachable evidence, which investigators must have, would have to be produced to prove them guilty.