Sunday, November 14, 2010

forex trading ARDESHIR COWASJEE ARTICLES : Karachi: law and order

On Aug 11, 1947, three days prior to the birth of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah did what he could, he told the future legislators that the first and foremost duty of any government is to impose and maintain law and order — to stress, the first duty.

They did not listen then; now they simply do not care. They have more pressing matters on their minds.

The cause of law and order was not furthered by the Objectives Resolution which was proposed by Jinnah’s successor, his one time right-hand man, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, six months after his death, and passed by the constituent assembly. It was an incitement to intolerance, and as we know intolerance leads to violence, and violence which through lack of will cannot be controlled negates law and order. This country over the years has not simply been subjected to criminality emanating from all levels of society, the highest to the lowest, but with massive religious intolerance which has led to unending sectarian strife and finally to the Taliban and their territorial plans.

Karachi is no stranger to the absence of law and order, much of it politically inspired. None of our political parties have ever inserted the issue of law and order in their list of priorities — it has always been a non-starter. As an illustration of the absence and of the involvement of politics in that absence, let us just take the headlines on one day as were printed on the front page of the Metropolitan section of this newspaper — on June 5, last Friday. ‘PPP man kidnapped, killed’, ‘Two MQM activists shot dead’, ‘JI activist killed in Surjani’, ‘Two Haqiqi workers gunned down’. A broad coverage of the political spectrum, would one not say?

One of this city’s main scourges is the land-grabbing mafia and the consequent turf wars between the grabbers of rival political parties. The government of Sindh has finally awoken and apparently decided to do something about it — its reasoning will puzzle many of us as we do not expect concrete action from any of our governments, and we certainly do not expect results. However, we can always hope.

On May 22, 2009 the chief secretary of Sindh put his signature to a notification (No.SO(C-1V)SGA&CD/4-35/09) which reads: 'The Government of Sindh is pleased to constitute a committee with the composition & TORs as under ...'. Listed is the convener and four members tasked with 'Identifying the areas of state/CDGK land under encroachment', and the 'Causes and elements helping proliferation of the menace'. They were to come up with “Short-term/long-term measures to retrieve encroached land and overcome the menace' and 'Submit presentation and report also on 24/05/09 positively'.

Three days later, on May 25, a section officer of the services, general administration &coordination Department signed another notification (No.SO(C-1V)SGA&CD/4-37/09) which reads : 'The competent authority has been pleased to constitute a high level provincial committee to tackle the issue of land grabbing/encroachment in Karachi with the following compositions & TORs ...'. Under the chairmanship of the chief secretary will sit 10 members.

They have been instructed 'To ascertain the factors leading to current problem of land grabbing. To identify areas in and around Karachi within one week which have specific trouble spots either currently active or have the potential to threaten law and order in future; To identify the main factors and their supporters (official and non-official) involved in each case of land grabbing. To suggest remedial measures, both short and long term.'

And, amazingly thinking in terms of law and order and to 'ensure no breach of the peace' in the short term, 'Joint check posts of Rangers and police to be established in identified areas with immediate effect. No land transactions between the government and private parties be allowed in specified areas henceforth. This shall not apply to cases where international commitments, foreign investments and government projects are involved. No construction be allowed in areas which are disputed or even have prima facie evidence of being contentious'

And in the long term, a 'Special police force to be established specifically to check the menace of land grabbing as envisaged in Section 15(a) of Sindh Public Property (Removal and Encroachment) Act, 1975, as amended in 2008'.
The committee was to submit its final report to the chief minister within a week. Do we suppose this has been done? Now we wait for the chief minister to ponder over the report and order that actual action be taken. Knowing Qaim Ali Shah’s habit of commuting between Karachi and Islamabad, we may be in for a long wait.

In last week’s column I said that city nazim Mustafa Kamal had written on several occasions to CCPO Waseem Ahmed lamenting the collusive role of the police in land grabbing. What is the CCPO to do? One must suppose that the policeman on the beat is as honest as the ‘top guns’ who rule the roost. Apart from that factor, the force is woefully undermanned.

London, a city of 7,387,868 (half that of Karachi) relatively law-abiding citizens has a police strength of 47,874, a ratio of 1:155. Delhi with a population of 14,000,000 has a police force of 58,000, a ratio of 1:241. Lahore with its 10,000,000 has a force of 30,946, a ratio of 1:323. We, with our estimated 18,000,000 have a force of 34,212, a ratio of 1:526.

On to a relatively related topic — US special envoy, our latter-day viceroy, Richard Holbrooke: he spends more time in Pakistan than does our president, the itinerant Asif Zardari of the ever-present prosthodontic grin. This last visit Holbrooke was here for all of three days and found time to visit the Supreme Court and chat with the good chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry. According to a press report of June 5, the two discussed 'matters relating to judicial reforms as per national judicial policy and the whole judicial structure of Pakistan'.

A news item the same day informed us that our footloose and fancy-free president is leaving us once again this coming Friday to embark upon a visit to six countries over the next four weeks.

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