Each dawn and sunset brings the news of death. Every day, the death toll in the city hits the half a dozen mark. The crime of the victims? The accident of birth.
Targeted not for their choices but for their ethnicity, religion or sect. There has been an alarming increase in the level of violence in the city. To a point, this is understandable. What else can be expected given the continuous influx of sophisticated weapons; the non-stop splintering of well armed militant groups and the complete lack of political will to stem this violence.
From January this year, when 55 people were gunned down, the killings have only witnessed an upward swing. Ninety-three people were gunned down in February, while April claimed the lives of 183 people, the highest so far this year. Last year in April, 169 people were killed. July brought a bit of a breather comparatively, as 133 people were killed while the same month last year claimed the lives of 324 people.
Among other areas, Orangi and Kati Pahari were worst hit with 133 reported deaths, followed by Lyari, 100, Sohrab Goth and its adjacent Abul Hasan Ispahani Road, 86, and Malir-Qaidabad, 61.
There seems to be no respite from the violence despite tall claims by the officials and members of the government, including the Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik. “Strict action will be taken against those involved in criminal activities,” Shah said addressing the Sindh Assembly.
The killing spree continues unabated and according to unofficial figures collated by Dawn, by the end of August around 1,054 people lost their lives, while around 600 men were wounded.
Arms bazaar During the last few years, the number of arms presence in the city has increased at least five-fold. Investigations by senior police officials show that the arms mostly come from Darra Adam Khel in the tribal areas and Balochistan. Stacked in the concealed cavities of buses and trucks carrying passengers and fodder for animals, these are difficult for law enforcing agencies to detect.
A couple of months ago, interrogation of Mujeeb Khan, an alleged arms smuggler, revealed that arms find their way in buses and coaches from Darra to Mardan, to Naway-e-Qila and to Talaganj, and then to Ghotki, Nawabshah, Hyderabad and finally, Karachi.
The principal arms dealers involved in smuggling along this route have been identified as Manzoor, Khalid, Mujeeb Khan, Mosa, Rafique, Arshad and Rashid. Several have been arrested.
One Rehmatullah, recently arrested by the CID, disclosed that four local dealers were involved in supplying arms in Karachi. The Balochistan route includes Pisheen, Mach, Bolan, Sibi, Lehrri, Dera Murad Jamali, Jacobabad, Sukkur, Khuzdar, Larkana and Karachi. Rehmatullah disclosed that Haji Shirin, Haji Shakoor, Noor Mohammed and Haji Nasir are also involved in the same.
The arms recovered include sophisticated ammunition, anti-aircraft guns, light machine guns, rocket launchers, hand grenades, locally made bombs, rifles, mini rockets, and ammunition of AAK and rifles. The accused are said to have connections with the Balochistan Liberation Army.
The arms recovered in May were on the tip off of a suspect already in police custody.
Though it could not be fully ascertained, officials say that the increase in the number of shops of arm suppliers indicates that illegal arms are also proliferating in the city, as not all arms these shops sell are legal. At least six arms dealers are suspected of selling illegal weapons under the table, one source said.
Officials say that only some ammunition is locally made in Darra. The bullets that pierced the armoured personnel carriers of the CID during the botched Lyari operation were made of steel and most likely came from Afghanistan and originated in India. Arms of Nato/Isaf forces, which often land into the hands of the Taliban, have also been identified.
During the last seven months policemen, officials of the CID, Intelligence Bureau, Rangers and other law enforcing agencies have been targeted. Investigators fear CID and IB personnel were hit by the Taliban, whose presence in the city is suspected by all authorities.
A study by investigators shows their presence is on the rise in various parts of the city like Taiser Colony, Pukhtoonabad, Sultanabad and Kati Pahari and Hub, the neighbouring area of Balochistan.
Legal flaws Detained suspects often obtain bail on fake documents, through ‘middlemen’, present all the time in courts to facilitate them,” a senior official said.