CONSIDERING the violent past few decades that Karachi has witnessed, even a brief lull in bloodshed is considered welcome. But, while the law-enforcement operation launched by the police and Rangers in 2013 has yielded results, it is quite clear that militants still have the capability to cause mayhem at will. The most recent example of this came on Monday evening when two traffic policemen were shot in the city’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal area. One of the officers died while the other was injured. This was the second attack on police personnel within a week; three policemen were killed in the Korangi area on Friday. In fact, 2017 has, thus far, been a deadly year for police officials, with around 14 officers killed in the city since January. Militants choose to target men in uniform for a number of reasons: they are ‘soft targets’, they represent the state and they are easily identifiable due to the public nature of their jobs. According to the Sindh police’s Counter-Terrorism Department, over the past few months a new militant group — Ansarul Sharia Pakistan — has emerged in Karachi, said to be formed by militants who have returned from the Syrian war. The police believe many of the attacks on serving and retired security personnel have been carried out by members of this group.
The killings illustrate the nebulous nature of militancy in Karachi. When one group of militants, for example those associated with political parties or sectarian killers, is brought to heel, another soon emerges in its place. The murders of security personnel also show the lack of preparedness of our LEAs. After the recent killing of policemen in Korangi, Sindh police chief A.D. Khowaja expressed his displeasure over the fact that standard operating procedures were not followed by the law enforcers, which compromised their security. In the wake of the killings, the police chief has ordered that the force put renewed focus on policing skills. The force needs to be provided with modern training and equipment to enable it to fight emerging militant threats in the metropolis. It is also true that the power struggle between the Sindh government and the police department, specifically Mr Khowaja, is affecting the force’s performance. In order to battle a variety of threats, the Sindh police must have an independent, professional leadership that can motivate officers. Political interference and meddling in the police’s administrative affairs is an unwanted distraction and should be discontinued.