Monday, February 15, 2010

Increased Security In Karachi

The journey back from work was an interesting one tonight, not to mention a rather long one. First came a make shift security barricade right after Kala Pul, where the police had blocked off 2 lanes and were only letting one pass at a time, and stopping cars for random checking. I was able to save a good few minutes by taking a side road and avoiding the ensuing traffic jam (note to the police, ensure there are no alternatives because it kind of defeats the purpose). Nothing much out of the ordinary as once in a while the police will inspect vehicles at this exact same spot.

The second barricade came on Khayaban-e-Ittehad, right in front of the Askari Bank building. There again was nothing seemingly out of the ordinary (if one considers random police checks to be the norm) however it didn't feel like a normal police check. The police were actually paying attention and not just harassing motorcyclists, moreover the police were aided by rangers who had created a secondary barricade and were looking inside each car. Moreover, the police were stopping buses and inspecting them from the inside - our police are never this efficient.

The third incident was even more surprising. As I passed the Khy-e-Muhafiz intersection on Ittehad a Toyota Corolla car with SP (police) number plates chaperoned by a police mobile passed me by. I instantly cursed the guy and thought of how much better it would be if the police focused all their energies on protecting everyone rather than giving preference to the VIPs. But then as I crossed Khy-e-Hafiz (about a kilometer down) I saw the SP car flag a taxi with 4 men and the policemen in the car and the mobile hurriedly got out. I decided against finding out what happened next.

Perhaps this was just a show of strength, a PR job to mollify the people similar to the police idiotically parading dozens of mobiles and motorcycles on main roads in the middle of the day. Here's a photo courtesy Karachi Metblogs:




However, this seemed more than that. The policemen on duty looked edgy and it seemed that they were acting on some prior information. This brings me to a quote I read somewhere regarding the FBI: "our successes are private but our failures public." I wonder how many private successes our law enforcement agencies have had but chosen not to reveal.

A few weeks ago our cleaner (jamadar) spoke of the police apprehending three terrorists from his area; apparently a bunch of boys playing cricket hit a ball on to a neighbour's ledge, when a boy climbed on the ledge to retrieve the ball he got a peek inside a room that contained guns and what looked like suicide jackets. He immediately told everyone and they called the cops, the police arrived and apprehended the residents who had recently rented the house. This all occurred in Neelum Colony right off Zamzama Park. There was absolutely no mention of this event on the TV channels or the newspapers therefore I don't know if this story is entirely true, and it does seem a bit far fetched. But if the story is true, I can understand why the police would want to keep quiet about it, you really don't want to spread panic nor do you want people finding out that a major terrorist plot was only discovered because a teenager hit a ball on the ledge - what if this batsman was like Ahsan and chose to only take stupid singles and not play a big shot?

15 comments:

Ahsan said...

Low blow, AKS. Low blow.

Good post overall though.

Anonymous said...

Good post AKS

greywolf said...

nice post indeed. and certainly the police will usually act and do 'random' checking on prior tip-offs from local, provincial, or federal intelligence agencies. the more serious the threat the more vigilant you can expect police to be. it is certainly true that with regards to law enforcement that people focus on the failures and never really know the success. i am sure that there have been several dozen unsuccessful attempts that we will never know of. in any case, perhaps our police are becoming more efficient. the events of the past several years would make any organization more efficient.

Umair Javed said...

Interesting stuff...cant comment on the police in Karachi but in Lahore, a lot of times the Police is in cahoots with organized gangsters and thugs...recently for example, a notorious Lahori mobster Tipu Truckanwala (no prizes for guessing he was a transporter), died and his funeral was attended by thousands of people. Iv grown up listening to stories about Abid Boxer, Tipu Truckanwala, Gogi Butt and other such Al Capones of Lahore and i always used to wonder why the hell are they still going about their business without anyone actually apprehending them...

In a lot of cases the police simply dont have the evidence against these guys, but in quite a number of instances, the police (at least the lower ranks (DSP and below) are very much in the know and on the pay-roll. We just have to reconcile with the fact that our police service is woefully inadequate in dealing with urban crime let alone terrorism or insurgencies...

A small anecdote from Gujranwala: When you enter the city via the N-5 Highway, theres a huge roundabout with 8 billboards dedicated to 8 members of the Punjab Police who lost their lives in a shoot-out against a notorious Gujranwala-Sargodha Gang. Urban legend has it that in reality these policemen tried to conduct a raid during night-time in some rural backwater part of the district, ulitmately cornered and surrounded the gangsters in a tube-well hut, opened indiscriminate firing which resulted in 8 casualties from their own squad....

mcphisto said...

Ahsan needs to learn something from Crazy Imran Nazir.


Great post Aks, and i can vouch for the fact that atleast Karachi police is quite discreet in most of their major operations they conduct within the city.

Ali said...

Lo and behold

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/world/asia/16intel.html?hp

Misanthrope said...

I guess you hit the nail on the head - this seems big news:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8517375.stm

AKS said...

Pretty insane. I guess the random checking was / is in place to try and prevent any retaliatory attack.

Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, there has been no word from Pakistani officials and the Pakistani media is absolutely silent on this subject. There is certainly a possibility that there may be a covert operation taking place within Karachi.

Umair Javed,

Its important to differentiate between organized crime and terrorism. The Pakistani police is institutionally corrupt and is inextricably linked with organized crime, but they do not share the same relationship with terrorists / Taliban / LeT. This is not to say that there are no policeman who aid these groups but as an institution I would say the police is firmly against these groups; that they are unable to curb their activities is another thing altogether.

wYSe Guy said...

AKS, I should put in a word that one ought to listen very carefully when people like drivers, janitors and various maintenance staff members describe stories that do not get reported at all in the regular press.

I heard a couple of stories like these myself. I knew a person working in an NCO position in a military base. Considering how boats were used in the Mumbai attacks, he had been witness to the summary jailing of some people who had attempted to ram some Naval assets using boats.

Then there were stories coming out from the Operation Cleansweep days, when any man entering an entire neighbourhood would be held up by Army men for an entire night.

Our media has a class bias, and that prevents a lot of interesting incidents to be kept quite. Nobody witnesses the assault/capture/murder, and no file is ever openned to leave a paper trail.

Hira Mir said...

Karachi is the commercial capital of Pakistan. Taliban realize the importance of effecting this city as it is the hub of stock exchange and investment in Pakistan. The security all over Pakistan should be the same as in Karachi. We need a safe Pakistan from the crazy Taliban!!

wYSe Guy said...

Thank you Hira, for reinforcing what we all already know.

Sputnik said...

Do you know if this had anything to do with the arrest of Mullah Baradar?

Ahsan said...

On the Mullah Baradar connection, please note that (a) AKS' post is from yesterday, whereas the arrest took place a few days ago, and (b) AKS' post concerned the police, whereas the arrest was made by some combination of the ISI and the Americans.

That said, as AKS mentioned, it could be that intelligence concerning retaliatory attacks had been been gathered, thus the checking and security AKS saw.

AKS said...

Sputnik,

What Ahsan said.

By the way there's still almost nothing on the Pakistani media on the Mullah Baradar capture. The only thing they're carrying on the topic so far is this fairly incoherent statement by Rahman Malik:

“We are verifying all those we have arrested. If there is any big target, I will show the nation”

“If the New York Times gives information, it is not a divine truth, it can be wrong. We have joint intelligence sharing and no joint investigation, nor joint raids”

“We are a sovereign state and hence will not allow anybody to come and do any operation. And we will not allow that. So this (report) is propaganda”

Courtesy Dawn: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/12-us+pakistan+capture+taliban+top+commander--bi-04

Farooq said...

You're quite capable of the whirlwind innings yourself, haan AKS?

Anyway, I HAD to comment on a post beautifully dissing Ahsan at the end.