All 18 depts. under Federal Interior Ministry to work closely with Karachi Chamber: Shehryar Afridi

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Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi has said that all 18 departments under the Federal Ministry of Interior will work closely and sit with Karachi Chamber to deliberate and resolve numerous issues as it will not be possible for us to take decisions from Islamabad until we are made aware of issues being faced by the business community of Karachi.

“On the directive of the honorable Prime Minister, I am here at KCCI to assure you that I will have regular interactions with Karachi Chamber. My office and all my key stakeholders including FIA, Coast Guards, NADRA, Passport Office and all other departments will stay in touch with KCCI and regular deliberations will take place. We will take all those steps which lead to earning respect not only for the business community but also for the entire country” , he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday.

Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, Vice Chairman BMG Anjum Nisar, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, Senior Vice President KCCI Khurram Shahzad, Vice President KCCI Asif Sheikh Javaid, Former Presidents AQ Khalil and Muffasar Atta Malik along with MPA Muhammad Ali Aziz and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present on the occasion.

Shehryar Afridi said, “We firmly believe that the business community of Karachi must get peace of mind and should be given the ownership and respect for their unmatched contribution to the country’s economy. The disconnect and trust deficit between the business and industrial community of Karachi and the decision makers in Islamabad is something that will be taken care of in Naya Pakistan.”

Highlighting the significance of Karachi, Minister of State paid glowing tribute to the business and industrial community of Karachi Chamber and termed them as ‘Unsung Heroes’ who have been playing a commendable role by ensuring bread and butter to millions of people arriving in Karachi from every nook and corner of the country.

He said that the security of every citizens of the country is the prime responsibility of the state which was unfortunately ignored in the past but it will not happen in ‘Naya Pakistan’ and no compromise will be made over the national security.

Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, on the occasion, stated that the truthful approach followed by KCCI Office Bearers during the last 21 years of Businessmen Group refrained many Ministers in the past from visiting KCCI who simply never wanted to listen to the truth. “We hope that this will not be repeated during the tenure of present government and KCCI will be given due attention”, he added.

He further stated, “Although Karachi contributes more than 65 percent revenue to the national exchequer but we are not demanding that this revenue should entirely be spent on Karachi. We only demand rightful and judicious share for Karachi which has to be ensured by the government.”

Referring to KCCI’s strong voice raised from time to time to get numerous issues resolved which directly or indirectly impact trade and industry, Chairman BMG stated that it was only due to KCCI’s struggle that led to commencement of Karachi Operation and the situation today was much better as compared to what it had been some five to six years ago. The incidents pertaining to extortion and kidnapping for ransom have substantially reduced however, street crimes persist and have intensified.

In this regard, he requested the State Minister to take concrete steps in order to effectively deal with the menace of street crimes which have to be controlled at any cost.

Siraj Teli was of the opinion that the basic corrections have not been done so far, which has triggered fear that law and order situation in Karachi may once again worsen. The recent rise in street crimes and couple of kidnapping attempts have triggered anxiety amongst the masses that the same old poor law and order situation may resurface again therefore, the government must pay special attention and devise practical strategies to ensure long lasting peace in Karachi.

He said that around 30 to 35 percent of police officers in Karachi Police were recruited on the basis of political affiliation. “As the present government claims a lot about merit, they should expel all the black sheep from police department who were recruited on the basis of political affiliation and also undertake corrections in this department so that it becomes capable to permanently control crime”, he added.

Siraj Teli also stressed the need for capacity building of police, provision of necessary arms and ammunition along with proper training as Rangers will not be here forever and ultimately, the responsibility to control law and order situation on daily basis will have to be taken over by police.

Referring to arms and vehicles’ bullet proofing licenses issues, he said that instead of initiating campaigns like ‘Society Free of Arms’ in which all weapon holders either with or without valid licenses are asked to surrender their weapons, the government should devise effective strategy to only deal with those elements who possess illegal arms whereas persons carrying licensed and legal weapons should stand exempted. “There should not be any restriction in bullet proofing of vehicles and the condition to obtain ‘No Objection Certificate’ for bullet proofing should be withdrawn as it was a useless exercise. It is just another hurdle created by the bureaucracy to gain personal benefits. Such hurdles and restrictions not only in the Interior Ministry but also in other ministries which have been created by the bureaucracy must be immediately removed by PTI government”, he added.

He further informed the State Minister that Scanning Machines installed at the airports were outdated which need to be replaced with modern equipment. In this regard, the Ministry of Interior should carry out an extensive analysis of all the airports and accordingly make corrections in letter and spirit.

Earlier, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, while welcoming the State Minister, pointed out that the Karachi operation has had a positive impact in terms of curbing organized crime – a combination of criminal gangs, political patronage and bureaucratic protection. For the first time in history, the law enforcement agencies focused on the connection between crime, politics and militancy in a sustained way that yielded positive results. Although the law and order situation was much better but the rising street crimes remain a serious issue, posing threat to growth and prosperity of this city.

He informed that although 2017 was also said to be a peaceful year yet more than 57,706 citizens were deprived of their valuables in 2017 which included 1,416 four-wheelers, 25,909 two-wheelers while 30,381 citizens were deprived of mobile phones. “In 2018 till September, more than 42,500 citizens have been deprived of their valuables. This includes 957 four-wheelers, 19,000 two-wheelers while 22,600 citizens were deprived of mobile phones. Killings in 2018 till August have been recorded around till 250 and 37 extortion cases have also been reported”, he added.

He further stated that Pakistan still ranks fifth out of 163 countries on the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) with a score of 8.4 out of 10. Since 2007, Pakistan has ranked fourth on the worst country for terrorism index and was ranked second on six occasions. “There is a need to clarify many misconceptions about the situation as this ranking is based on assumptions because the ground reality is totally contrary to what is being assumed about Pakistan. The government must devise effective strategies to deal with this issue by laying special emphasis on building the positive image of Pakistan”, he added.

He further stressed that police department has to be well-equipped, de-politicized, and made strong enough to swiftly deal with elements behind street crimes. “More policemen have to be recruited purely on the basis of merit in order to overcome the shortcomings of this department whose prime responsibility should be to provide a safe and secure environment to citizens but unfortunately it was not happening”, he added.

He further requested the State Minister to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Karachi Chamber for in order to re-operationalize National Crises Management Cell Unit at KCCI so that the members of the business and industrial community could be facilitated in dealing with law and order issues.

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