The dusky evening of November 26, 2012 in New York City was fairly calm. Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Police Department, Paul Browne, strode out of his office with quite an expression of satisfaction. Not a single violent crime was reported – no shooting, no stabbing, no grabbing, no pilferage etc. Of course, the scene stood in contrast to the picture of New York in 1980s and the earlier part of 1990s where fear loomed over and death danced in the streets. Alone in 1994, 4967 people got shot down – almost 14 a day as an average.
But soon the things started changing for the better. Peace gradually kept creeping in the lanes of the city, and ultimately New York became one of the safest places on earth, setting aside the lone incident of 9/11 (we are talking of the crime wreaked by the inhabitants, and the lack of state control over it).
The query poses what stratagem could be behind this peace? Definitely, it was the will of the state with s pragmatic execution plan preceded by a well thought out strategy.
This became possible when the Republican Rudi Giuilani became Mayor of New York City in 1993. He hired the services of William J. Bratton as his police commissioner to minimize the rate of crime in the city. Mr. Bratton was inspired by “The Broken Window Theory” which was first introduced and elucidated in a seminal article in 1982 by Wilson and Kelling. The theory explains that if things are left in a dilapidated state with no particular treatment, the situation may get rampantly dicey; so to improve the environment, it is paramount to deal with smaller problems like broken windows and vandalism, which a social space for miscreants to develop in. The broken window theory has ‘zero tolerance’ for crime, whether grand or petty and got results in New York.
This theory seems to already have been applied to our motorways where there is ‘zero tolerance’ for the law-offenders even if they are the kin of a Chief Justice or a Prime Minister. Now come to the city of lights where people keep dying onlookers keep mum. Those who dare to open their mouths are awarded with deadly steel bullets in Karachi.
Extortions, murders and sectarian killings are three major crimes that haunting Karachi, and law enforcement institutions are also under threat. The police officers, rangers and judges are often killed in Karachi when they try to close in on the criminals. Witnesses are shot down. Almost six witnesses of Wali Khan Baber were murdered in a bid to blunt efforts to reach the truth.
A news archive of two years back reveals that the extortion mafia is so strong in Karachi that one cannot construct a house or buy a new car without giving extortion money. The report presents the story of a senior journalist, Khushnood Ali Khan, who was happily busy in building his new house near Kamran Chowrangi in Gulistan-e-Johar. But the house being built entailed the receipt of rupees one million from the mafia. Perturbed by the repeated threats from the extortionists, Mr. Khusnood got himself transferred to Islamabad. Death kept awaiting him until he came back to Karachi a few months later. He was killed on day grocery shopping. An example was set, and as of that day, nobody would refuse the ever-powerful mafia.
This story is peanuts compared to the Baldia Town factory tragedy. The report submitted to a bench of Sindh High Court by the Joint Investigation Team, including officials of the ISI, MI, IB, FIA and the provincial police department, is eye-opening in this regard, though there questions over its credibility too. The yarn in the JIT report alleges the involvement of MQM members who demanded extortion money from the factory owner, later setting the factory ablaze on refusal, and then being successful in extorting some Rs.15 crore from the factory owners for securing their bails.
This revelation is a test-case for our law-enforcement agencies and judiciary. It also stands as a crucible for MQM to come clean on the issue and all such blames heaped on the party, which itself has been a victim of vengeance in the city. MQM party leader, Azeem Ahmed Tariq, Altaf Hussain’s 66-year-old elder brother, Nasir Hussain, and his 28-year old nephew, Arif Hussain all died of unnatural deaths in Karachi.
There is no denying the fact that MQM is a big reality in the political landscape of Pakistan, playing its due role on the national stream, and also in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. It should also play its role in Karachi, for it is the biggest stakeholder on the turf.
Why is there the a persistent of MQM when it comes to speaking or writing about it in media? What happened to Jasmeen Manzoor who remained off-the-scene for fear of being killed by MQM’s hit-men? Even if all this was also a fabricated plan to demean the MQM, what would you say of Altaf Hussain’s open statements which by all canons of measurement do not fall into the category of polite discourse?
On one occasion while talking to TV anchors through his telephonic address, he says, “If you don’t stop the lies and false allegations that damage our party’s reputation, then don’t blame me, Altaf Hussain, or the MQM if you get killed by any of my millions of supporters.”On another occasion while defending the rights of the Mohajirs, he annpinces, “If your father won’t give us freedom, just listen to this sentence carefully: We will tear open your father’s abdomen. To get our freedom we will not only tear it out of your father’s abdomen but yours as well.”
Amidst all this debate as to who is complicit in the orgy of crime in Karachi and who not, there stands the question of existential integrity and peace of Karachi – the commercial hub of Pakistan. How would it all end? How would the long-lost peace enter the lives of the peace-seeking people of Karachi? Peace would come if there is a will on the part of the state to cleanse Karachi of the impurities of extortions, assassinations and sectarianism. For this, Pakistan needs Giuilanis and Brattons to fight and clean, and also the application of The Broken Window Theory with zero tolerance to crime. The political parties in Karachi are all stakeholders, and have been the victims of brutal vandalism, and all must contribute to helping the law-enforcement agencies in combating crime. MQMis commendable when it says that if Rizwan Quershi of the Baldia Town factory fire turns out to be an MQM man and the culprit too, he must be hanged publicly.