In his visit to Karachi corps headquarters and Malir garrison, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa maintained that efforts would continue to maintain normalcy in Karachi and the province. The statement indicates that there is no specific timeline for completion of the military crackdown against miscreants that is in progress since 2013. It will be unjust to turn blind eyes to the successes of rangers and other para-military forces in bringing normalcy to the most populated city of Pakistan.
While Karachi can be rightly called the economic engine and financial hub of the country, it is also true that before the ongoing operation it was the nation’s crime capital as well. The law and order situation in the city was so deteriorated that even middle-class families had to hire security guards. Back in 2013, Foreign Policy magazine ranked Karachi the most dangerous metropolitan in the world for the high crime rates in the city. Until the recent operation was launched, half of the city was a no-go area for police. The largely successful operation has brought down the ratio of crimes like kidnappings for ransom, sectarian attacks, and feuds among political parties’ militant wings.
However, despite all such gains, it is to say that sole reliance on the military to eradicate crime from the Metropolitan is not a wise strategy in the long run. Depending on the military is just a short-term solution at its best. For a sustainable and durable peace and improved law and order situation political parties must take the initiative. Political parties need to come forward and present a plan that does not put the gains of rangers and other paramilitary forces to waste.
Because of the military operation, people have gone into hiding and will re-emerge as soon as such an operation is called off. We have witnessed this before. In the last decade of the previous century, the military action, to improve the security of the city, only provided temporary relief. In a city like Karachi where virtually every ethnic and political group has its presence, the operation failed to remove the ethnic, political and religious fault lines. It was just a matter of time that these schisms resurfaced.
While appreciating the gains of the military operations, it is essential to create an environment of ethnic, political and religious harmony in the city. For this purpose, a political solution addressing the legitimate concerns of every group will do the trick.