As complicated as it may sound but the ‘olive oil business’ (from the epic Godfather by Mari Puzo) has become euphemism for Mafia, darkness and shady deals.  So when anything happens in Karachi the first thing that one involuntary asks is: who should we blame? Who is not in the ‘olive oil business’ there?

If you live on a small island with a very calculated population, chances are that any miscreant committing crime would eventually be caught in a matter of hours.  The land is locked, the demographics are pretty much clear; the limited options do not provide the criminal with a chance to disappear elsewhere in the thin air.  Now we have a city with a coastline sprawling over thousands of miles, approached by sea, connected not just with numerous cities but to other countries by the roads as well. There live countless ethnicities, with each one claiming to be the only legal heir of the land. Furthermore, there is an economic zone that plays a significant part in filling the national vaults. All these characteristics make it a heaven for the criminals and hell for the authorities running it.

The city has emerged as the vast spreading grey land where for criminals it has become easy to match the anonymity it provides and go on with “business as usual”.  If one indulges in a criminal activity, the crime might not be reported at all. If it is reported it would be extremely difficult to track down a petty thief mugging people of their old mobile phones or purse snatchers. A place, where each colony, block and area has its own brand of thugs, makes it a gangster’s heaven. 

The hunt does not end here; the problem is more deep-seated than it appears at a glance.  One can approach other countries for guidance that dealt with the similar form of crime rates – may be New York, or perhaps other cities with similar histories. But there is an unfortunate spin to this story; these criminals do not merely enjoy anonymity in Karachi, they usually live on supports provided not just by the armed wings of various political parties, but they are also used as pawns that are supposed to run the city in the legal manner.  As a result Karachi has become an enigma in itself.

Who would you run for help?  Who is not a part of the grey portfolio? Who is using whom and who is being misused? The entangled tale is mind-boggling and a living hell for the residents of this mega city. 

In Karachi, there are outlaws, there are various political parties; some armed too, with the law enforcing agencies trying to cope with the menace of crime while simultaneously grounded in the same soil and thus a part of this intricate pattern.  

Once a crime scene develops, it might be easy to find the man who actually carried out the act but it is extremely hard to figure out why he was supported by any particular group. Or who supports that particular group in actuality. There is a constant shadow theatre being played in the foreground of Karachi. The story relived on the roads each day might not be too complicated to understand but the string pullers are hard to uncover. 

It is not just about one group, one party even. It is way much beyond that in Karachi now. The murder there is not a simple case of murder. It can have an elaborated context, a number of unlinked dots that link to not one, but many groups.

Individuals represent the overall psyche of the population. Like the city, the individuals and groups can also be drawing their support from various different sources.  So when an alleged criminal is arrested on the pretext of his involvement with any specific group and hence is believed to be helpful in solving a case, it does not necessarily help improve the general law and order situation in the city 

However, we cannot conclude that since the situation is too grim and gory, it would be wise to either run for desperate remedies or sit still with the hands crossed on the lap.  The point is that the ongoing operation needs to stay strictly non-political, which is not to suggest that the individual with a specific group should not be detained or arrested or the raids should not be carried out against any political party. It is to highlight the importance of keeping the political motives out of the operation.

If the law enforcing agencies have to reinforce their writ in the city they should also keep an eye on their ranks. Because in Karachi, you cannot tell who is not in the olive oil business.