In response to an alarming rise in crime, Karachi’s additional inspector general of police has announced the launch of a “Shaheen Force”. Karachi police chief Jawed Alam Odho said the Shaheen Force would comprise around 200 policemen, including sharpshooters.

However, the promise of reducing crime in Pakistan’s largest city through the creation of a special police unit has been sold to us before, with no results. The Sindh Police—and other provincial administrations as well—have set up special units or forces focused on an area of crime in the past, yet, as it stands today, Karachi appears more dangerous than ever, and it only seems to be getting worse. According to one report, at least 16 people have been killed in street crime incidents in the current year and over 13,000 have been robbed of cars, motorcycles, and mobile phones this year. Over 50,000 instances of street crime occurred last year.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has attributed the rise in street crimes in Karachi to the current financial situation of the country. This is an unacceptable excuse, which does not explain why it is Karachi that must experience unbridled crime rates and not other cities which have in likelihood experienced worse hardship due to the lack of economic infrastructure compared to Karachi. Urgent measures are needed to crack down on gangs of street criminals.

This new force is one step that shows that the police have at least tried to address the concerns about rising crime—however, the Sindh government must also do more to demonstrate exactly how this force shall reduce crime when others could not. Currently, this initiative appears to be a lacklustre response—many police officials already have the equipment that the Shaheen Force will have, but that is not making a substantial difference. It is also not clear how snipers or the new force will be able to catch criminals, especially if the right investigative legwork has not been done in advance. The prioritisation must be on training, and proactive policing through investigation and solving crimes, making sure criminals are taken off the streets before they commit any more crimes against citizens.