Karachi witnessed worst law and order situation in 2022
The outgoing year was troubling for residents of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. It was plagued by rising street crime, terrorism, mysterious murders and public lynching over the course of the year.
Residents of the city reported an increase in incidents of snatching and murders upon resistance, apart from carjacking, and other forms of theft. Worryingly, there was also a spate of bombings and attacks by terrorist groups.
Among the most prominent cases which captured the imagination of the public more than any other case was the alleged elopement of a teenaged girl.
The teenager was reported as kidnapped by her family. She was finally recovered from Lahore ten days after, but not before she posted a video stating that she had not been kidnapped, rather had eloped. She claimed that she had willingly entered into a marriage with a boy namely Zaheer Ahmed on April 26. The news sent shockwaves through the local community.
The alleged abduction and elopement of the girl, whose parents insist is a minor, led an uproar on social media and the winding journey in courts spanning two provinces became fodder for television talking heads and social media pundits.
Death of a celebrity
In addition to these, there was the mysterious death of popular televangelist and television host Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain.
The news was met with shock in all circles.
He was found dead in his home with the door locked. There was intense speculation over how he died but a court battle ensued on whether there should be an autopsy or not.
There were twists in the tale when towards the end of the year, his third wife was arrested on charges of spreading his compromising videos which allegedly caused great mental anguish to Hussain and could have led to his death in one form or another.
Crime and no punishment
By far, the most concerning issue throughout the year was the frightening increase in street crimes with some 27,912 phones being snatched and 52,149 motorbikes being stolen (data until December 15).
This was up from 45,991 bikes which were stolen, and 25,139 mobile snatched in 2021.
Over 110 citizens were killed and over 600 were injured in these attempted robberies, including SAMAA TV news producer Athar Mateen, and a religious cleric etc.
The most prominent murder was that of former expatriate Zeeshan Afzal from a working class family who was killed by muggers in September.
The authorities vowed to crack down on these criminal activities and at least one police chief lost their job, but thus far, residents of the city continue to walk around in fear.
The city also saw several terrorist attacks, including a suicide bombing targeting Chinese faculty members at the city’s largest public sector varsity, the University of Karachi.
Attacks on law enforcement personnel and civilians also continued during the year, including the return of target killings.
There were also a number of targeted killings, including the shooting of a Chinese-origin Pakistani man at a dental clinic in the main downtown market, the lynching of two telecommunication company employees by a mob.
Towards the end of April, the city experienced the worst terror attack in recent years. A female suicide bomber, targeting a van carrying Chinese faculty members of Karachi University’s Institute of Confucius Studies.
The female bomber blew herself up at the entrance of the institute just as the van was exiting. The attack left three Chinese nationals dead along with their Pakistani driver.
The dead include the institute’s director Huang Guiping, two female faculty members Chen Sai and Ding Mupeng and driver Muhammad Khalid.
Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a banned militant outfit, claimed responsibility for the attack.
It sent shockwaves through the neighborhood and the country as news channels flashed the news about the gory incident on TV screens.
Then on May 13, the terrorists attacked a Pakistan Coast Guards vehicle near Lucky Star, Saddar by using an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Though, the personnel of paramilitary force survived the attack, but a passerby died and 11 others sustained injuries.
The attack was claimed by Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA). However, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) has arrested the mastermind of this attack within ten days.
A woman was killed while 11 others have been injured when a bomb ripped through a market near New Memon Masjid in Karachi’s busy Kharadar area on May 17.
This time, the terrorists tied an IED with tank of a motorbike, to target on patrol van of Kharadar police.
A Chinese-origin Pakistani, Ronald Raymond Chou, was gunned down while proprietor of Hu Dental Clinic, Richard, and his wife, Phen Tayang, sustained bullet wounds when a lone attacker opened straight fire on them in their clinic in Karachi’s Saddar on September 28.
A new Sindhi-separatist organization, Sindhudesh People’s Army (SPA) has claimed responsibility of attack.
On October 1, two staffers of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s fire brigade were shot dead and another sustained injuries when unidentified men attacked the Korangi Fire Station.
Later, police and paramilitary Rangers arrested the main suspect, Sheikh Bilal Zafar Farooqi, in joint raid in Manzoor Colony on October 12.
In November, a man suspected by police to be a kidnapper, ended up killing a police officer before fleeing the country.
Two employees of a telecommunication company were lynched to death by a mob in Karachi’s Machhar Colony on October 28.
According to police, the victims were reportedly visiting the area to check the signal strength, but rumors spread that they were trying to abduct children.
Till date, 42 suspects, main characters of this gruesome murder are among the arrested.
A tiff over paying for food had sparked deadly, ethnic riots in the Karachi’s suburbs and surrounding areas, including as far as Hyderabad.
Death the final escape?
With the country’s economic situation turning dire, there were a few cases where people sought to end themselves and those around them to escape the unmerciful arms of debtors.
In August, a man turned the knife on his throat inside a mosque in the upscale DHA.
It followed a similar incident when a man in Gurumandir area hanged himself inside a mosque.
Later in December, a man first slaughtered his family and then turned the knife on himself, only to survive it.