Karachi lawlessness mars small trade, cottage industry

Karachi: Growing lawlessness in Karachi, particularly widespread extortion collection, has virtually marred small trade and cottage industry, and if the shaky coalition government of Sindh continued ignoring this important issue, it would deal a severe blow to the already wobbly economy of the province, said All Pakistan Organisation of Small Traders and Cottage Industry Karachi chapter President Mehmood Hamid.

He regretted that the police and other law enforcing agencies are not taking decisive steps against the known criminal mafias of Karachi that enjoy covert patronage of ruling parties. He said the intelligence agencies fully know who is behind the extortion culture in Karachi, but they are under heavy political pressure not to disturb the scheme of things in this mega city as political as well as monetary stakes are very high. He said the kidnapping for ransom and extortion Bhatta are considered most lucrative sectors to earn easy money after land grabbing and illegal trade of drugs and weapons in Karachi. He said had the ruling parties during their five-year tenure taken serious efforts today things would have lot better in Karachi regarding law and order.

Hamid said the big businessmen and tycoons are shifting their industry and investment to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other safe destinations; however, millions of small traders could not even shift their businesses to other cities of Pakistan as they could not sustain the shifting costs. He said this is why that majority of small traders and cottage industrialists still live and work in Karachi despite its nightmarish law and order. He said in past the scope of criminals mafias was confined to a few areas of the city, but now Karachi has witnessed a mushroom growth of Bhatta mafias that operate in almost each and every part of the city with impunity.

He said the growing crime has made Karachiites psycho patients. He said now the citizens even do not bother to report police when criminals snatch their mobile phones, bikes and purses on streets and loot their shops and houses. He said it is a very sad and disturbing fact that Karachiites, particularly small traders, have no faith on police and majority of people think that bandits and cops are the two faces of same coin. He said there is a statement on record of a police boss that 40percent recruitment in Karachi police was made on political basis. He said to improve law and order in Karachi, it is a must to give complete a free hand to police department as continuing political interference has eroded the credibility of this vital department.

Hamid said in past the Bhatta mafia used pistols and guns to harass the trader, but now they use hand grenades. Referring to a recent hand grenade attack on a shop in electronics market of Landhi/Quaidabad89, he said so far more than 50 hand grenade attacks of extortionists have been reported in Karachi in 201213 in which at least 12 small traders have died. He said in past the hand grenade attacks were limited to Karachi but now areas of Burns Road, Liaquatabad, Jamshed Road, Landhi and Korangi are no more safe from these deadly attacks.

He requested the government and political parties to have a mercy of people and traders of Karachi and get rid them from the organized criminal mafias. He said the survival of the economy of Karachi is the guarantee to survival of the national economy and the ruling political parties should feel their responsibility in this regard. He said the small traders and cottage industry runners would be forced to take to streets if efforts are not taken on war-footing to control rising crime in the city.