Affluent Afghans get Pakistani IDs as poor Pashtuns suffer


KARACHI: For the right price, any Afghan can obtain Pakistani nationality. In fact, hundreds of affluent Afghans have managed to obtain Pakistani IDs in exchange for handsome sums paid to National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) officials, The Frontier Post has learnt.

While poor Afghan refugees and ethnic Pakistani Pashtuns take the hit in the wake of lapses by Nadra in granting CNICs – as was the case with the late Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s citizenship – those with enough money can easily obtain CNICs by greasing the right palms.

In 2012, Afghan business tycoon Abdul Rehman Alokozay’s family obtained over 150 computerized national identity cards (CNICs) against a payment of Rs20 million to NADRA officials close to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

“It’s not the only well-off Afghan family enjoying nationality of its neighboring country, however, a big one, which is trading inside this country with Pakistani identity,” a source said. Alokozay Group of Companies (AGC), an Afghani conglomerate with its headquarters in Dubai, has presence in over 40 countries with distribution network in Middle East, Central Asia, Asia, Europe, Africa and North America.

“From the highly successful Alokozay Tea to the flourishing Alokozay Cooking Oils, Tissues, Evaporated Milk, Coffee, Biscuits, 3in1 Tea & Coffee, Sugar, Detergent Powder, Wet Wipes, Baby Diapers, Pasta, Corn Flakes, Engine Oil, Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Hand wash, Bar Soap, Toothpaste, Body lotion, Mouthwash and many more premium products, Alokozay continues to expand its horizon”, the website of company reads.

The group’s ABCo in Kabul, Afghanistan is the bottling and distribution plant of the entire range of carbonated Soft drinks, Energy drink, Juices & Water.

“PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, today signed an Exclusive Bottling Appointment (EBA) with the Alokozay Group of Companies to manufacture and distribute a broad range of PepsiCo beverages in Afghanistan. The beverages will be produced at ABCO (Alokozay Beverages Company), Alokozay’s beverage bottling plant, which will be set up in Kabul with an initial investment of US$ 60 million,” the PepsiCo’s official website announced on April 20, 2011.

Chairman of the group is Abdul Rehman Alokozay, whereas Jalil Alokozay is its Chief Executive Officer and managing director, who is also CEO of the Alokozay International Ltd based in Mississauga, Ontario L5C 2T1, Canada.

The amount, Nadra official, said, was paid by Abdul Waris Alokozay, Lahore based son of the Afghan business tycoon. Unlike his father Abdul Rehman Alokozay and brother Jalil Alokozay, Waris doesn’t carry the family name as he is Chief Executive Officer of Alokozay International (Pvt.) Limited, situated at Suite No 305, 3rd Floor, Eden Tower, Main Boulevard Gulberg III, Lahore Pakistan.

Besides, company in Lahore, the family has several restaurants on the motorways across, Pakistan. Korean made cigarettes Kent, which are sold in abundance in Pakistan, are also smuggled into Pakistan by this same family whereas FBR has been unable to find who to serve the notice with, a source in the Federal Board of Revenue told.

According to Nadra official, the family had shown themselves permanent residents of Mohmand Agency while obtaining Pakistani CNICs. However, the tribe Alokozay has never lived on Pakistani side of the Durand line Border.

The Alokozay, a sub-tribe of the Abdali Pashtuns of Afghanistan, are found primarily in Helmand, Kandahar, Kabul, Laghman, Kunar Sarkani District and Herat provinces in Afghanistan, and form the majority of the population in the Sangin District. “Jaldak, which is located 110 km northeast of Kandahar, is the original domicile of the Alokozay tribe,” according to “The hidden Treasure” (Pata Khazana), a biography of Pashtoon poets Mohammad Hothek.

Few years back, Abdul Rehman Alokozay was kidnapped in Pakistan. “The family secured his release by paying 25 million to the kidnappers” a source close to the family reveals.

A news published in this newspaper in 2012 had reported the issuance of Fake IDs after which the issue was taken up by Standing committee of the National Assembly but it never came to conclusion due to influence of the family in Pakistan’s political circles.

“Such examples of wealthy Afghans are in abundance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. These Afghans are not only rich in term of wealth but they are also very well connected with both the Afghan government and the Taliban,” a source said.

The reason why these Pakistan based rich Afghans keep good relations with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is because Taliban protect their crops back in Afghanistan – in most cases that of opium – and they help them with protecting their business interests in Pakistan as well, a Pashtun nationalist leader from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa says.

“As they buy Pakistani identity with their wealth, the Pashtuns of Pakistan are humiliated in Punjab and Sindh to get their CNICs,” he adds.

Published in The Frontier Post on Jun 1, 2016


Justice and reward

Does bounty on capture of wanted criminals encourage corruption?


Naimat Khan  TFT Issue: 08 Jul 2016


In March 2013, law-enforcement personnel arrested a wanted terrorist suspected to be involved in American journalist Daniel Pearl abduction and murder, and several other attacks on Western targets. Qari Abdul Hai had been a leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and the government had announced a Rs 1 million bounty on his head.

The Rangers and the Sindh police both claimed to have arrested the suspect, and asked for the reward money, according to a summary document originating from Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah’s office.

The office of the director general of Rangers was the first to claim the reward, saying his men had arrested the wanted terrorist. The home department made the request, the chief minister approved it, and the finance department placed the sum on the disposal of the home house to give out to Rangers personnel.

But then there was a twist in the story. Sindh police claimed it were their men who had arrested the wanted man, and the bounty belongs to them. The then inspector general of Sindh police wrote to the home department and said Qari Abdul Hai had been captured by the CID police under the supervision of Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam, the then Senior Superintendent of Police of CID in Karachi who was later assassinated.

The case points to deeper problems in the rewards system.

On June 9 this year, the chief minister approved the disbursement of Rs 100 million in reward money to the police and intelligence agencies who helped capture wanted terrorists and criminals.

“The chief minister said that those who have done a wonderful job must be rewarded,” according to a statement from his office said.

Former home secretary Dr Niaz Ali Abbasi is skeptical about the entire exercise. “In some cases, it has been observed that criminals involved in ordinary cases are being shown as hardened criminals and a reward money in millions of rupees is proposed on their arrest and elimination,” he said in a document sent to the chief minister about two years ago. In other words, it is not just this double claim for the same reward that alarmed Dr Abbasi. He believes such bounty has the potential to become a means of corruption. “The reward money culture creeping in Sindh police has gravely eroded efficiency, moral and image of police officers,” he had told the chief minister.

“The greed for reward is leading to fake encounters, corrupting police officers and tarnishing their image besides declining their efficiency,” the document said, quoting a former finance secretary.

A notorious dacoit from Sindh was killed thrice

Asad Iqbal Butt, vice chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Sindh chapter, shares Dr Abbasi’s concern. “The greed for reward money is one of the major causes of the hike in staged encounters,” he believes.

Sindh Police Chief Allah Dino Khawaja disagrees. He believes bounties or rewards are not a source of corruption. “Instead, they help a great deal in resolving blind cases,” he told me. “Reward money is usually given on the arrest and not the killing of the suspect, so the claim that it has increased fake encounters is baseless and unfounded.”

A senior official told me some wanted men do carry head money even for being captured dead or alive.

The police chief says many civilians don’t come forward to help the police until they are given financial incentives. “Reward money is not a new concept,” he said. “It is an international practice.”

Critics of the system say claims for bounty should be decided by an independent panel after being properly investigated, especially because it is the police that almost always benefits from such rewards.

“The police have never shared a balance sheet or any information on how this money is being given out,” says Riaz Sohail, a Karachi-based reporter associated with BBC Urdu.  “In the absence of transparency, there will always be a question mark over such money. Who knows if the informer was paid? Who was the informer? If they compare it with such practices in developed countries, there is a proper mechanism of checks and balances.”

According to HRCP’s Asad Iqbal Butt, there have been several instances in which a dacoit with head money was killed and the reward disbursed, but it turned out that the victim was someone else, often a poor laborer. “We have even often seen a person with money on his head being killed several times,” he said, “But no one raises questions and there is no transparency.”

Paro Chandio, a notorious dacoit from Sindh, was reported killed thrice. The prime suspect of Abbas Town carnage, Aslam Mehsud, was killed twice. According to a report by Zia Ur Rehman – journalist and author of ‘Karachi in Turmoil’ – people from the Mehsud tribe say they were easy targets of such fake encounters in the city.

On July 12, 2006, police claimed they had killed the notorious gangster Mashooq Brohi in a shootout in the precinct of the Gadap police station. The man turned out to be a laborer Rasool Bux. According to the HRCP vice chairman, on April 3 this year, police killed four men in the Rerhi Goth locality on outskirts of Karachi for their alleged association with Baloch Liberation Army. They all turned out to be innocent locals.

“The police are paid essentially to curb crime, which includes capturing hardened criminals. Why should they be rewarded for something for which they are already being paid?” the former finance secretary had asked in Dr Niaz Abbasi’s communication with the chief minister.

“What should they be rewarded for?” Asad Butt questions. “Fighting crime is their duty. That is what they are supposed to do.” Instead of cash incentives paid for by taxpayer money, they should be punished if they fail to do their job.

The author is a Karachi based journalist


Twitter: @NKMalazai

Published in The Friday Times, Lahore

‘Threats, intimidation and enticement’


The battle against crime and terror cannot be won without witness protection

‘Threats, intimidation and enticement’


By Naimat Khan

On January 13, 2011, a young news reporter was assassinated on his way back from work in the North Nazimabad neighborhood of Karachi. Gunmen shot 28-year-old Wali Khan Babar five times in his face and neck for carrying out his professional duties.

The case was heard by four judges in three courts until there was a conviction. Meanwhile, two policemen, an informer, an investigation officer’s brother, a lawyer and a witness had also been killed. The first lawyer in the case fled to the US and applied for an asylum because of death threats.

“Each time they would kill a person related to our case, we would lose all hope,” said Murtaza Babar, Wali’s older brother. “But soon, our determination to send the killers of our beloved brother to the gallows would help us muster courage again.”

In March 2014, a little more than three years after the murder, a special anti-terrorism court sentenced four men to life in prison, while two absconders were given a death sentence in absentia. One of them, Faisal Mahmud aka Faisal Mota, was later arrested from the MQM headquarters in Karachi during a predawn raid on March 11, the paramilitary Rangers said.

But Murtaza says his family fought the case all alone with no support from the state. This is the second case of a journalist’s murder in Pakistan in which there was a conviction. The first was the killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

“Now they are going into appeal, and it is hard for the government to find a prosecutor,” he told me.

Policemen and lawyers say there are hundreds of case in which suspects threaten, intimidate or lure witnesses to change their statement.

In one case, a man was reluctant to become a complainant in his son’s murder

“The safety of witnesses is not a new problem, but the Wali Khan Babar case highlights the extent of the issue,” says Raja Umar Khattab, a senior counter-terrorism police official. “In all terrorism and sectarian cases, witnesses need more security.”

In one case, he says, a man was reluctant to become a complainant in his son’s murder. The state had to become a party. “If we want to bring murderers and terrorists to the book, we will have to adopt measures to restore people’s trust in the law, so that they are no longer scared of criminals.”

On September 21, unidentified gunmen killed police sub-inspector Muhammad Ishtiaq Awan, who was a witness in the murder of another sub-inspector Manuj Kumar in 2010. They key suspect was Tahir Hussain Minhas, who according to Raja Umar Khattab, is an Al Qaeda commander detained by the police in the Safoora bus shooting case.

Two weeks before Ishtiaq’s assassination, on September 8, unidentified assailants killed Ghulam Abbas, the driver of Sabeen Mahmud and an eyewitness in her murder.

Last month, on October 20, two special public prosecutors in the Safoora bus shooting case resigned because they feared their lives were in danger.

“Although the debate that began after a series of killings related to the Wali Khan Babar murder case led the PPP government in Sindh to pass a witness protection law, the law has not been implemented in two years,” according to Shams Keerio, a journalist covering the Sindh government and the provincial legislature.

A police officer says all preparations have been made and law is with the home department, which is prolonging its enforcement.

Keerio is concerned that the delay is deliberate.

“Promulgating the law was a good thing, but its sincere implementation and an awareness campaign are equally important,” says Asad Iqbal Butt, the vice chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Other laws passed by the provincial government are also waiting to be enforced, such as the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act of 2013, he adds.

On October 8, Keerio had reported that the Sindh Home Department had objected to a request for Rs 100 million for the Witness Protection Unit.

“The Sindh police have done their homework and are waiting for a notification that sets up a Witness Protection Unit,” a police officer said. He asked not to be named because he didn’t want to be seen as criticizing the Home Department. “We have received some of the money we had requested for that purpose,” he said.

The law includes the provision of a new identity for witnesses by NADRA, and the relocation of the witnesses and their families, who the state would provide accommodation and means of livelihood. It also ensures protection for vulnerable judges, prosecutors and police officials investigating criminal cases.

The first provision would be hard in most cases, if not impossible, Raja Umar Khattab says. “Such witness protection programs are more effective in societies where witnesses live in elementary families that can be relocated, and not in a joint family system,” he says.

Pakistan Bar Council vice chairman Azam Nazir Tarar told me there is no special witness protection law at the federal level.

Last month, a high-profile case highlighted a different problem. All the witnesses against influential suspect Mustafa Kanju – who was accused of killing a 16-year-old passerby when he fired his gun during a quarrel with two women in another car – retracted their statements. An anti-terrorism court had to free him.

The additional advocate general told the Supreme Court during a Suo Motu hearing of the case that the witnesses had been bribed.

The writer is a freelance journalist


Twitter: @NKMalazai


Pashtun Jirga Vs US justice system

Why did ANP leader prefer Jirga over going to US court against relative of PTI leader?

File Photo of ANP Sindh Chief, Shahi Syed, who faced fraud at the hands of a man Furqan – cousin of PTI leader Asad Qaiser – but Syed is reluctant to move to US court due to fears of Money Laundering case

Jalil Afridi/Naimat Khan

WASHINGTON/KARACHI: A senior Pakistani politician belonging to Awami National Party is reluctant to take a fraudulent  person to American court due to ‘dubious transactions’ and ‘fears of money laundering case’, credible sources told The Frontier Post.

Furqan has minted $200,000 from Syed through fraudulent means, sources said.

Senator Shahi Syed, the ANP’s Sindh President and father-in-law of Aimal Wali Khan confessed to have lost $75000, which is equal to Rs7.82million in fraud by a person belonging to Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Sources said the person alleged of fraud is Furqan Khan, a cousin of the speaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly, Asad Qaisar who is currently in Washington DC. Shahi Syed while talking to The Frontier Post said that Furqan was partner with his elder son in a business and now Furqan is refusing to return the $75,000 he had taken from his son.

According to sources Furqan has told Shahi Syed to go to American courts against him if his claim is correct but ‘dubious transaction of money’ is the main hurdle in Shahi Syed way to fight his case in the court. Shahi Syed is instead using his contacts for securing the money through Jirga.

When Shahi Syed was asked by The Frontier Post as to why he was not going to American courts despite a big fraud with him, he said he is persuading Furqan through Jirga. “He is one among us, he is from Swabi and it is better that we resolve the issue through Jirga amicably”, he told the FP on phone from Mardan. Source said Shahi Syed had gone to Mardan in order to hold a Jirga for securing his money.

When asked as through which channel he had sent such a huge amount of money to Washington, he said it was his son’s money, and he prior moving to the US had been running his own showroom in Dubai since 2007.

Shahi Syed refuted that his sons had acquired US residency, which requires of an applicant to submit five million U.S. Dollars with the US immigration department. Credible sources told this scribe that both sons of Shahi Syed have obtained residency against the payment of $1million, equal to RS100.43millions. The ANP Sindh chief refuted and said one of his sons was studying in the Washington University on a student visa whereas the elder one had obtained a two-year Visa and was doing his own business there.

Sources, however, said Yaseen, the older son of Shahi Syed, had applied for the residency whereas the process was also started for the youngest one. The ANP leader has four sons; two of them – one a Doctor and another Lawyer – are resided in the United Kingdom. Shahi Syed has confined himself to Islamabad.

Shahi Syed, who was born and raised in Babuzai village of Mardan district of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa moved to Karachi where he started driving a Rikshaw on lease. But he soon become a rich man and then attracted the attention of ANP’s central leadership. Almost all old stalwarts, including Ameen Khattak, were sidelined and his residence, Mardan House, situated in the affluent DHA neighborhood became the party’s center in Sindh.

Shahid Syed further came closer to Asfandiyar’s family after giving the hands of his daughter to son of ANP Chief.

It’s likely that the authorities in National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which has become ultra active these days, will kick off probing the case because some people close to Asad Qaiser’s cousin have shared information with the corruption watchdog.

Insiders in ANP say the ANP Chief Asfandyar Ali Khan has also setup several businesses in Malaysia, Dubai and other gulf states with the help of Shahi Syed.

Disgruntled leaders, including the late Azam Hoti, had been accusing ANP leadership of huge corruption. Asfandyar’s step mother and president ANP-Wali has also alleged the ANP leadership of massive corruption.

It’s also pertinent to mention that many second and third tier leaders have also applied for asylums in USA and

European countries under the guise of Taliban threat after transferring huge amounts from Pakistan to their respective countries.

The Story was published in The Frontier Post

ANP leader seeks asylum in US amid fears of arrest in Karachi

Bashir Jna, former General Sec ANP Sindh
Bashir Jna, former General Sec ANP Sindh

MODESTO, CALIFORNIA: Fearing arrest at home for his alleged part in ‘crime economy’ of the city, the Awami National Party’s former Sindh general Secretary Bashir Jan has applied for asylum in the United States of America, highly credible sources told The Frontier Post.

Sidelined by the party leadership as part of its ‘operation cleanup’ in Sindh, Bashir Jan arrived in the US before Eid-ul-Fitar but sensing a possible arrest in the ongoing action by Rangers, he applied for asylum, a source based in Berkley, California told this scribe.

“The former ANP leader has cited several attacks on his life during different periods of time as ground for obtaining asylum along with other nine immediate members of his family” source said.

Despite several contacts, Bashir Jan didn’t respond to confirm or refute the news but contrary to his earlier claims of going back to Pakistan on August 20, the ANP leader is still in California State of America, sources told. On Wednesday, Sep 2, 2015 Bashir Jan updated his Facebook status, telling his son, Aimal Khan, has started his school at Martin Luther King Middle School Berkeley, California.

After developing differences with Shahi Syed, he also mulled over to change sides and join either PTI or PPP but later his friend and former MPA Aman Mehsud joined PPP and Jan opted to wait for better time and offer.

Another ANP source told that Bashir Jan had changed his mind after some mutual channels assured him to remove his differences with Shahi Syed but after crackdown against different politicians in Karachi, he opted not to go back and settled down here. It was after this final decision that Jan winded up his business in Dubai and decided to settle in the US permanently.

Several MQM and PPP leaders, including Qadir Patel and Nisar Morai, have left the country due to fear of possible arrest but Bashir Jan was the only known ANP leader who escaped the country. Some activists have left Karachi for other parts of the country.

Luckily, Bashir Jan had several attacks on him, mostly attributed to or claimed by Taliban, making his case for asylum strong one. On August 16, 2012 unknown attacker’s hurled crackers or hand-grenades at his car before opening fire on him in Site area of Karachi. He remained safe in the attack.

On April 26, 2 at least 11 people were killed and 40 others including children injured after a blast went off near the election office of Bashir Jan in Karachi. Jan luckily survived in attack in Mominabad area of the city. Taliban claimed responsibility of the blast.

These attacks have been cited as basis for his permanent stay in the US, source said.

Aimal Khan Son of Bashir Jan -  first day at King School of Berkeley ( September 02, 2015, Photo source Facebook page of Bashir Jan)
Aimal Khan Son of Bashir Jan – first day at King School of Berkeley ( September 02, 2015, Photo source Facebook page of Bashir Jan)

The 51 years on Bashir Jan was born in Guratai,Barikot, Swat but later moved to Karachi. He got his education from Karachi University in 2003 but continued his own business as shopkeeper of the unstitched clothes in Metroville.

Before joining the ANP, he was associated with the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party. He was appointed as Deputy General Secretary of ANP Sindh in 2004.

He sustained the post till 2010 after which he was appointed as General Secretary but after he developed differences with the incumbent Sindh Chief Senator Shahid Syed, he lost his seat to current General Secretary Younis Buneri.

Highly credible sources close to Shahi Syed told this scribe that Bashir Jan was sidelined by Sindh chief at the advice of some forcers who thought Bashir Jan’s character might land the whole party in trouble when law enforcement agencies would enter to the final phase of Karachi operation.

Started his commercial life as a small shop keeper, the accounts of Jan witnessed a sudden surge during the period when activists of ANP and its student wing, Pakhtun Student Federation (PSF) were found involved in extortion and land grabbing.

Highly credible sources in Karachi told that Jan was suspected for a murder in Karachi and the security agencies have already arrested some suspects in this connection.

Originally Published in The Frontier Post, Karachi

PPP leader’s hospital turns into five-star lodging for prisoners

By Naimat Khan

Former President Asif Ali Zardari conferring the award of Nishan-i-Imtiaz on Dr. Asim Hussain, former minister and Zardari’s partner in many projects recently detained by Rangers for massive corruption and part in the city’s crime economy

KARACHI: While both prisons of Karachi present a gloomy picture of tormented prisoners being jailed there, the well-off under trial prisoners and convicts, especially those having political backing, have found in a private hospital in the upper-class Clifton neighborhood a best and luxurious accommodation, sources in the health facility revealed to The Frontier Post.

Three VIP rooms at the third and fourth floor of the hospital, owned by a former PPP minister, were occupied by persons accused of huge corruption. However, the police took two of them, namely Moeen Shaikh and Javed on last Thursday evening, ending their prolonged and comfortable stay.

According to hospital sources Moeen Shaikh was using the room no-2006 at third floor for more than two years while Javed was being accommodated in room no 417 at fourth Floor. Though the exact date of his admission could not be known, a doctor in the facility told on the condition of anonymity that Javed was living there for several months.

The hospital record shows that Moeen Shaikh was advised for hospital observation by his consultant Dr Asif Farooqi, a senior physician in the hospital’s Clifton branch.

When this scribe contacted admission and discharge department of the hospital, the front desk staff on duty informed that daily charges of room no 2006 at third floor were Rs 9000 while the one at fourth floor could be acquired at Rs 10,000 per day. An estimate of his stay suggests that Shaikh might have paid from 8 to 10 million only as room charges to the facility.

Moeen Shaikh, sources said, was produced before the anti corruption court in Karachi on Friday, 27 September but it could not be known whether he was granted bail or sent to Jail on judicial custody. He, however, had not turned back to the hospital till Sunday evening.

Also read: Hospital owned by Zardari’s aide gets Rs500m grant

Adnan Zaman who was arrested for the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) payment of about Rs 60 Crore to fictitious and bogus exporters under the garb of 25 per cent freight subsidy, managed to get room no-2007 at third floor on 18 June 2013, just weeks after his arrest and is enjoying this facility for the last over hundred days despite serious graft charges.

The 54 years old Zaman was referred by his consultant Dr Faisal Memon of the said hospital. According to hospital’s statistics he had either paid to hospital or was liable to pay Rs 936,000 as room charges only till the filling of this report.

When The Frontier Post inquired about the average stay under medical observation an admission department official told that it was two to three days. He further told that there could be serious cases with prolong stay but their major chunk of time is spent in ICU.  The patient, gone in Coma is exception, he said.

Dr. Mirza Tasawar Baig, assistant professor and a spokesman for the Ziauddin Medical University insisted that patient could be retained for years in case of chronic diseases. He, however, showed his ignorance regarding the three cases in question, guessing there might be solid grounds to put the accused under medical observation for long time.

The Frontier Post tried to contact the concerned consultants but the phone number of both Dr Amir Farooqi and Dr Faisal Memon were switched off.

According to rule and procedures the jail authorities writes to home department, requesting for the transfer of under trial prisoner to hospital, informed senior lawyer advocate Gandapur, who further stated that the home department then refers him to one of  the services hospitals, which determines to which hospital he should be sent.

He further said that the concerned hospital is declared as sub-jail, guarded by jail police. When The Frontier Post contacted Sharfuddin Memon, consultant home to Chief Minister Sindh, who also holds the portfolio of home minister, he said he could speak on the subject on working day only and will share the record of under trial prisoners currently availing the facility.

This story was published in The Frontier Post on 30th September 2013 under the heading Influential inmates living comfortably in PPP ex-minister’s hospital. It is being reproduced for the interest of those who follow the Case of Dr Asim Hussain, the owner of this hospital.

The political economy of crime

Karachi operation faces a different kind of turf war

Karachi operation faces a different kind of turf war

By: Naimat Khan

Karachi’s major political parties have always reacted strongly to allegations that they patronize crime, but a recent statement by the paramilitary Sindh Rangers – who are part of a law-enforcement operation in the city – aroused an extraordinary response from the usually-calm former president Asif Ali Zardari.

On June 4, Maj Gen Bilal Akbar, the director general of Sindh Rangers, told an “apex committee” overseeing the operation that more the Rs 230 billion were being generated every year through extortion, smuggling of Iranian diesel, corruption in water supply, and land grabbing, mainly patronized by “a major political party”. A week later, on June 11, the information was shared with the media in a press release.

Although it was taken as a veiled reference to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the most scathing reply came from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Zardari, who warned the military against stepping outside its domain.

Other leaders of the party, such as Senator Aitzaz Ahsan and Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah, have questioned how the criminal economy can be measured.

“Since there was no scientific survey, the Sindh government cannot comment on the figure,” says Rashid Channa, a media advisor to Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.

But Arif Hasan, a social researcher and urban planner working in Karachi, does not agree. “This is not the first time the size of a crime economy has been quantified,” he says. “The Orangi Pilot Project has done it, Geo TV has done it, and even we have done it before the Rangers.” In fact, he says the figure given by Rangers is much lower than other estimates of roughly Rs 300 billion.

“The Rangers director general has said nothing new,” Arif says, “except the claim that the money is being used to toe a foreign agenda.”

“The information about who has how much of a role in the crime economy of the city was available since long,” says Syed Shoaib Hasan, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been investigating the financial aspect of violence and militancy in Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular.

MQM says the Rangers have not named it. “We reject the report if it hints at MQM,” party veteran Dr Farooq Sattar said in a news conference. He said the Rangers had spoken of various political and religious parties, but the statement was followed by a media trial of MQM.

The PPP was not being referred to in the statement, says Rashid Channa, but it “has felt it as an effort to weaken the Sindh government”. Such press releases are not issued by Rangers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, he says.

A handout issued by the Chief Minister’s House after the June 4 meeting said extortion, collection of charity and animal hides, kidnapping for ransom, payments to ghost employees, land grabbing, and smuggling, particularly of Iranian oil, were among the major sources of financing of terrorism and violence.

The provincial government had concealed nothing, and everything was shared with the media, except the figure, which was questioned by Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah in the apex committee meeting, according to Channa. “Even the Rangers DG had said the figure of Rs 230 billion shouldn’t be deemed final,” he says.

“It is obvious that Mr Zardari is targeting a sensitive national institution to veil his own wrongdoings,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said in response to the statement by the former president.

But the Sindh government says it has already agreed to form a task force on the matter. “The government hasn’t stopped the Rangers from taking action,” Rashid Channa says. “Even the Nine Zero raid was brought into the chief minister’s notice after it was conducted.”

Shoaib Hasan agrees. “If Rangers can conduct a raid at Nine Zero and detain criminals associated with the MQM, then they can take action against anyone,” he says. “Action has been taken against political gangs, religious groups and proscribed outfits in Karachi. It should be no more a politicians-vs-security apparatus affair,”

Amid disowning responsibility of action it is hoped that ‘fuel of violence’ should be stopped by someone, no matter who. Analysts think that it is action  that matters. Those identified  in the investigations should be brought to book. The media should buildup pressures for empowering the security agencies to take actions against the culprits.  “But only taking action against political parties will not work.  The people of security and spy agencies are also actively involved in this heinous business. There is also a nexus between cadres of political parties and security agencies. Hence, across the board action against black sheep is the  only solution to end this menace” opines Shoaib Hasan.


Although a three member task force as already been formed – consisting of Justice (r) Ghulam Sarwar Korai as chairman, and retired judge Arjun Ram K Talreja and Home Secretary Mukhtiar Hussain Soomro as its members – analysts say the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Sindh anti-corruption department should also have swung into action.

NAB did swing into action days later, arresting five high-ranking officials of the Lines Area development project, accused of china-cutting 1,200 plots worth Rs 4.5 billion and selling them to builders and “land mafia”. Reports said the money was used for financing terrorists.

Meanwhile, Sindh Rangers raided the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) office and questioned the staff about their former director general Manzoor Qadir aka Kaka, who has reportedly left for Dubai. They also seized important data and records.

According to Arif Hasan, three important institutions – planning, land control and law and order – have ceased to exist in Karachi. “The people of the city need four major things – employment, residence, transport and security,” he says. “Unfortunately, all four department are serving as major sources of extortion.”

The writer is a freelance journalist


Twitter: @NKMalazai

 A shorter version of this has appeared in The Friday Times- lahore