The near-total collapse of law and order enforcement in Karachi, inspite of the ever-presence of police, paramilitary forces, armed private security guards, salaried neighborhood vigilantes, and even bands of concerned citizens, has shaken its foundation. This has created a panicky situation for the citizens who are justifiably terrified and who fear that the upward trend has made living in Karachi a nightmare.
Recently, in back-to-back meetings, the apex body Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) held deliberations to evolve a strategy against the worsening and never-ending law and order issue. They announced strikes, albeit on different days. The Sindh Chief Minister tried to convince them to withdraw their calls by giving hollow pledges. The Sindh Governor held a marathon four-hour joint session with the FPCCI and KCCI leadership. Although the first meeting did not produce result, the Governor was able to get them to postpone the strike.
The strike would create headlines, would create some bad blood between businessmen and the political government, and would further create temporary waves but would not solve this menace. The postponement of the strike call reflects the back foot stance that is common when people in the corridors of power prevail upon business leaders.
It is now time for the business leadership to play on the front foot like cricket players in Super Sixes matches. They should adopt a radical strategy to prove their point. This is not the time to do a Misbah-ul-Haq. This is also not the time to play like Shahid Afridi of today. The time has come for batting like Brian Lara. The writing is on the wall. Karachi is becoming a war zone.
So, what should they do? The economy is not encouraging while transferring assets abroad is not the only viable solution. They know that diabolical internal and external forces are making it an insurmountable task for them to bring about sanity in their businesses. Therefore, the following demands and actions be initiated.
• Whenever there is a landlord-tenant dispute, invariably the rent is deposited in the court until the matter is decided. Similarly, the leadership should announce that the businessmen would deposit their taxes with Supreme Court requesting it to decide on release of the revenue to FBR after ascertaining improvement in law and order.
• Organize a private security force of retired commandos to devise and implement a security strategy for trade and industry. Chief of the Army Staff be requested to delegate a serving Major General to assist the security force.
• Advise the Governor to order Inspector General of Police, Director General of Rangers, Home Secretary, and representatives of sensitive organizations to hold a weekly meeting with them on a designated day, time and place and update them with the handling of the law and order situation.
• The promises of arms licenses to businessmen should be translated into practical implementation.
• Political parties must be given a strongly-worded warning that they should help bring peace in the South City instead of playing politics.
• Demand COAS to come heavy against the banned terrorist groups that have found haven in Karachi.
• The business leadership must shed personal conflicts and unite to achieve objectives of peace and security in Karachi.
Karachi is the economic mega city and any criminal event in Karachi is detrimental to prosperity of Pakistan. Taking a lackadaisical attitude towards ushering in peace is against all norms of good governance and reflects submission to terrorists and criminals. The business leadership must act now, by playing on the front foot.