Rising Crime in Cities Across Pakistan – Karachi Remains Most Unsafe

Rising Crime in Cities Across Pakistan – Karachi Remains Most Unsafe

In Karachi, a metropolis notorious for street crime, dacoits continued to deprive the people of cash and valuables in sev­eral incidents in the city besides killing two citizens on resistance. On April 8,  in a tragic incident reported from Karachi’s Metroville area, two citizens lost their lives resisting robbery, while the culprits managed to flee after looting more than Rs 10.3 million.[1] Reacting to the rising crime in the port city Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Senior Deputy Convener and National Assembly member Syed Mustafa Kamal has demanded immediate deployment of army personnel to control the rising street crimes in Karachi, Pakistan. In recent months, Pakistan’s most populous city has witnessed a further upsurge in street crime, which has prompted concerns over public safety and the apparent lack of law enforcement measures. Incidents of street crime have become rampant across the city, and their CCTV footage becomes viral on social media platforms, day in day out.

As per official records, 60 citizens have been killed in various incidents of street crime in the port city so far this year. But as as per data compiled by the Citizen Police Liaison Committee, an organisation that collects crime data in Karachi, during January and February: a total of 106 fatalities occurred in the city, 11 cases of kidnapping for ransom were reported, a staggering 10,488 motorcycles and 441 cars were stolen, and approximately 4,000 incidents of mobile phone snatching were reported.

Lamenting that “there is no area or road in Karachi where the lives and property of citizens are safe,” and the Sindh government and Sindh Police have left Karachi at the mercy of bandits, MQM-P leader Mustafa Kamal has demanded Karachi should be handed over to the military for three months immediately.

Across Pakistan there is a palpable erosion of public trust in law enforcement agencies, leading citizens to take matters into their own hands and resist criminals. This dangerous cycle of vigilantism only serves to add to tensions and escalate violence, undermining the rule of law and exacerbating the sense of insecurity among residents. Senior police officials in various cities have pointed to skyrocketing inflation and growing economic difficulties over the past three years as key factors contributing to the surge in violent street crimes.

On March 8 this year, unidentified armed motorcyclists intercepted a young man, Gayan Chand, resident of Kandiyaro, near Usman Shah Hori and attempted to snatch his motorcycle. When Chand put up resistance, the muggers shot and killed him before escaping with the motorcycle. In another recent incident, armed motorcyclists targeted another man, identified as Mashuq Lashari, near Fiza Marriage Hall, robbing him at gunpoint. Haider Jarwar, a lawyer, fell victim to a similar attack, losing Rs100,000 in cash and a gold ring. Deeply disturbed by these incidents, lawyers staged a boycott of courts.

These brazen snatching triggered protests in the area, with residents demanding arrest of the perpetrators. They called upon the provincial administration, including police high-ups, to take action against the rising wave of crime in the district.[2]

March 20, residents of the federal capital Islamabad fell victim to street crimes and were deprived of one vehicle, seven motorcycles and valuables, including ten mobile phone sets worth millions of rupees. The concerned police station could not trace any of the incidents.

Most recently on April 8, a woman from the Swiss embassy and five other people were robbed, held hostage for six hours, and forced to bring more money from an automated teller machine (ATM) in Islamabad.[3]

But it is the city of Karachi that remains the hub of street crimes. In January a businessman was looted of Rs 8 million in the Korangi area of Karachi. CCTV footage revealed that two suspects on a motorcycle were waiting outside the bank, while one accused went inside the bank for recce.

Street crime in Karachi appears to be thriving in connivance with law enforcement officials. Recently it was found that the SHO of the Zaman Town police station in Karachi was involved in robbing a trader of over Rs 11 million. The SHO, his team and his informer had illegally detained a trader and looted his cash.The trader,  Muhammad Khan was stopped by the SHO and his team of policemen  while he and his friends were travelling via the Lyari Expressway on March 1. The police forced Khan and his friends out of their cars, snatched their cell phones and started searching their vehicles. They locked the car of his partner Faisal, and snatched its key. Then they forcibly put Kahn in his car’s backseat and one of the policemen held him at gunpoint, took him in his own car and left his partners and others there. In his complaint said the policemen blindfolded him and drove around for hours in the city. They later snatched the cash and fled after locking him inside his vehicle.[4] This is not a one-off incident, there are several looting cases involving police complicity.

The leading newspapers are replete with harrowing stories of street crime in Karachi.

The situation is exacerbated with the rise of religious and extremist groups. Karachi has also been a battleground for ethnic and sectarian political parties that have committed dreadful violent crimes in the name of political/social issues, with many of their leaders becoming cogs in the governance machinery as well as members of elected bodies.

One of the largest cities of the world, Karachi today exists without a workable structure, giving rise to a precarious security situation, with a huge governance vacuum. The situation has been defined by some researchers as an ‘ordered disorder’. Instead of finding a lasting solution, successive governments have militarised the police and deployed the civil armed forces and the army to deal with ethnic and sectarian conflicts traumatising the city repeatedly over the years.


[1] Robbers kill two citizens, loot millions in Karachi (arynews.tv) https://arynews.tv/robbers-kill-two-citizens-loot-millions-in-karachi/

[2] https://tribune.com.pk/story/2458710/street-crimes-rise-as-criminals-strike-with-impunity

[3] https://www.dawn.com/news/1826407/foreigner-five-pakistanis-kidnapped-robbed-in-islamabad

[4] SHO, two cops booked and arrested in Karachi for looting Rs11m from trader – Pakistan – DAWN.COM

Joe Elhage

Joe Elhage

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