Images of the police and
Rangers brutally handling civilians in Karachi’s strike-ridden suburbs on
Wednesday were flashed across the world on TV screens, and shamed the nation.
The footage showed the Rangers beating up unarmed youth, forcibly entering
people’s homes by knocking down their front doors with kicks and the rifle.
Thursday’s national newspapers, too, carried pictures showing law enforcement
personnel posing with their ‘catch’. A Rangers man in military boots stood on
the legs and buttocks of a youth, surrounded by several other young people who
were blindfolded, handcuffed and forced to lie flat on the ground with faces
down. The camera caught other gun-wielding officers looking unashamedly proud of
their accomplishment. This was not Iraq or Palestine under occupation, but a
street in Malir.
No one can condone hooliganism, stone throwing or burning of petrol stations and
vehicles by protesters, as seen in Karachi on Monday and Tuesday; but excessive
highhandedness with which the law enforcement personnel brutalized unarmed
civilians on Wednesday must also be viewed with a sense of shame. Such a gung-ho
style of law enforcement can only strengthen elements harbouring ulterior
motives, or those wishing to extract political mileage out of anti-establishment
feelings fostered by the growing number of educated, unemployed youth. As it is,
many in our urban sprawl are condemned to live without basic amenities, social
services or security of life and property. They cannot be blamed for venting
their anger at a situation that leaves them with little hope or dignity. The
Sindh government must rethink its handling of the law and order situation
obtaining in the province, especially when local elections are just round the