ONE way the state abdicates responsibility in Pakistan is by farming out its functions to the private sector. In this regard, we have witnessed private institutions doing the government’s job in the health and education sectors. But when the state lets private forces take over law and order, something is definitely amiss. In this regard, as reported in this paper recently, under the umbrella of the ‘Peoples Chowkidari System’, ammunition and other equipment were distributed to watchmen in the town of Naudero in Sindh’s Larkana district. The scheme, apparently the brainchild of a powerful PPP lawmaker, has been initiated after people took to the streets against rising street crime in their area. Plans are afoot to spread the scheme to other towns.

While much is written and said about the street crime epidemic plaguing Karachi, it is clear that the law-and-order situation in Sindh’s hinterland is also far from satisfactory. That these crimes are occurring in areas known to be the ‘citadel’ of Sindh’s ruling party should be a matter of reflection for the province’s rulers. The fact is that whether it is Karachi’s mean streets or the province’s interior districts, criminals have been given the freedom to loot and terrorise people with impunity. The solutions being offered, however, will not yield the desired result. For example, it is hardly a good idea to arm private individuals to fight crime, when that is the job of the police. Though giving chowkidars ammunition is being termed a ‘community policing’ initiative, it appears to be more of an effort to lessen the law enforcers’ responsibility of keeping the peace. Whether it is arming watchmen, or encouraging citizens to get arms licences and buy weapons, this is the wrong approach to fighting crime. Only a professional police force that is trained to serve and protect the people and is not beholden to political masters can crack down on criminals in the province.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2023

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Call to arms

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27.01.2023

ONE way the state abdicates responsibility in Pakistan is by farming out its functions to the private sector. In this regard, we have witnessed private institutions doing the government’s job in the health and education sectors. But when the state lets private forces take over law and order, something is definitely amiss. In this regard, as reported in this paper recently, under the umbrella of the ‘Peoples Chowkidari System’, ammunition and other equipment were distributed to watchmen in the........

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