That the law and order situation in Karachi needs attention is a fact. On Tuesday, for example, a branch manager was shot dead in a bank robbery at the busy Shahrah-e-Quaideen. A day later, five armed men stormed into another bank branch at Kharadar and made way with Rs 600,000. If that is not disturbing enough, the city has seen as many as nine bank heists this year. According to the Additional IG Police, out of these only four cases have been resolved and the suspects arrested, the rest remain at large. It would not be surprising if some of the same gangs have felt emboldened enough to commit the two latest crimes. In fact, the AIG said two groups are active in bank robberies, and one of them was involved in the Shahrah-e-Quaideen incident, offering the assurance that investigators have strong clues about their identity and are expected to nab them soon.
Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has ordered a security audit of all banks, and also suspended some police officials for negligence. The police though blame the bank managements for not fully implementing the security measures prescribed by the State Bank. That may be a valid complaint, but these measures alone will not help unless the overall law and order situation is up to the mark. Since the Rangers, aided by the police, launched a security operation four years ago, focusing on various religio-political militants, things have improved to a significant extent, but a lot more needs to be done. Targeted killings are no longer a common occurrence. Street crimes have come down, too, though they still remain high. As per the Citizens Police Liaison Committee figures, over year-long period ending last August 6 as many as 9,574 mobile phones were either snatched or stolen as against this year’s 9,137 such cases. Incidents of carjacking show a slight decrease from 138 to 127. The data does not inspire much confidence, though it can be argued that making a city the size of Karachi crime-free is easier said than done.
The bank robberies present a major challenge to the law enforcers, particularly the Rangers. For those involved are not only common criminals but extremist groups are also known to loot banks in order to finance their nefarious activities. The rising incidence of bank heists could mean some of them are still active and involved in these crimes. The provincial administration too needs to address various problems undermining police performance, such as that the numerical strength of the police personnel is far shorter than required to manage the affairs of a mega city like Karachi. And many of those serving in the department do not meet the merit standards, inducted as they have been due to political considerations. Making necessary amends needs time as well as political will. For now, all available resources ought to be pressed into action to hunt down criminal gangs committing bank robberies.