Those who collect extortion money in Karachi are not ordinary criminals, but very powerful elements, without whose permission even police cannot intervene. Bhatta Collection can only take place if local police and administration are on board. For this to occur such political parties have no other option but to be part of every sitting government. People of the area are forced to comply through threats, use of force and intimidation by armed hoodlums. These are organized gangs, who have carried out an assessment of individual shopkeepers, traders and industrialist’s business potential and donations recovered from them are directly proportional to their revenues. In fact this protection tax collection system is more efficient than that practiced by our FBR tax collectors. Any attempt by extortion collectors to pocket part of revenue collected, which runs into crores of rupees daily, is punished very promptly unlike the FBR tax collectors. Donation or extortion collectors are paid a monthly salary and these politically powerful gangs keep a watch on their Bhatta Collectors through 24 hour monitoring by their local political activists. Punishment for any hanky panky is very swift and prompt and includes physical punishment and in case of repeated mistakes even extermination. Since the business has become very lucrative, there are many others who want to have their share of this pie.  In the event that a defaulting Bhatta Collector is exterminated, the competitors are accused and there follows a turf war to establish hegemony. In this process, scores of innocent citizens are killed, while the government which collects taxes from citizens, fails to protect their lives and property, being slave to their desire to hold on to power. This is how ugly, brutal, unethical and immoral power politics has become in Pakistan.

A. M. TARIQ,

Lahore, March 31.