Crime in Karachi


The shocking, brutal murder of a journalist in Karachi, whose only crime was intervening in an armed robbery in broad daylight, ought to shake the very soul of the port city. 42-year-old Athar Mateen, now former senior news producer with Sama TV, rammed his car into a motorcycle carrying two armed robbers as they held an individual on a roadside, only to be shot in the chest for his trouble. The usual condolences and condemnations have poured in from the highest offices, of course, but if the city’s history is anything to go by this tragedy will soon be replaced, if not overshadowed, by another, most likely worse incident.
Mateen has left behind a widow and two little daughters, who now have nobody to care for them because his bravery turned him into just another statistic. It seems nothing can cure the culture of crime in Karachi, not even the much-hyped action by Rangers a few years ago. And nobody can come up with a straight answer to a very basic question: what, after all, will it take to put a lid on all the criminal activity? Why is the police force incapable of doing its job? Why can nothing save the city despite the presence of all sorts of law enforcement agencies, including the military?
The central government will say, with some justification, that this is the provincial government’s headache to worry about. But the latter is now shooting back that crime is on the rise, once again, because of the high cost of living and poor economic conditions, for which the former is to blame. And this pendulum, too, will keep swinging back and forth, and the wives and children of people wasted on the streets because they got in the way of thugs and gangs will keep suffering. At the end of the day, though, both central and provincial governments must shoulder the responsibility of innocent blood spilled on their watch.
Athar Mateen got killed, just after dropping his girls to school, because he did the right thing. Should others follow his example? You can be sure that the answer will not come from the state.