Monday, April 01, 2013

Policing in Karachi - A Tale of Corruption

In Pakistan underworld, a cop is said to be a king
Associated Press, March 30, 2013

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A corrupt, low-level cop with a healthy dose of street smarts rises to control hundreds of illegal gambling dens in Pakistan's largest city. By doling out millions of dollars in illicit proceeds, he protects his empire and becomes one of the most powerful people in Karachi.

The allegations against Mohammed Waseem Ahmed — or Waseem "Beater" as he is more commonly known — emerged recently from surprise testimony by a top police commander before a crusading anti-crime Supreme Court judge. The story has given a rare and colorful glimpse into the vast underworld in Karachi, a chaotic metropolis of 18 million people on Pakistan's southern coast.
The sprawling city has become notorious for violence, from gangland-style killings and kidnappings to militant bombings and sectarian slayings. Further worrying authorities have been signs that the Pakistani Taliban are using the chaos to gain a greater foothold in the city.
For months, the Supreme Court's Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has been leading special hearings on Karachi's crime, berating the city's top police officers for failing to act. This past week, he demanded they move in to clean up so-called "no-go" areas — entire neighborhoods where police fear to tread — according to local press reports.
Further fueling the problem is rampant police corruption, undermining efforts to combat the city's violent gangs and extremists. Among the public, the police nationwide are seen as the country's most crooked public sector organization, a high bar given claims of pervasive corruption throughout the government.
Hassan Abbas, an expert on the Pakistani police at the New York-based Asia Society, said Ahmed's case provides a stark illustration of the level of corruption in the Karachi police force, which he described as the worst in any of Pakistan's major cities. Criminal cases are currently pending against 400 police officers serving in Karachi, said Abbas.
Civilian officials, who also benefit from corruption, have shown no willingness to reform the system, making the force relatively ineffective in cracking down on criminal gangs and Islamist militants in the city, said Abbas.
"The chaos in Karachi provides criminal gangs with the cover they need to operate," said Abbas. "Corruption provides an incentive to continue that chaos."

For complete article, click here or here (Dawn)

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