Crime in Islamabad blamed on its weakest residents

    GovernanceAccountabilityCrime in Islamabad blamed on its weakest residents
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    Crime in Islamabad blamed on its weakest residents

    The police’s statement on zero robberies in Islamabad must be taken with a pinch of salt. After all, even a lawmaker’s home robbed at gunpoint in November 2021.

    Is Islamabad SouthAsia’s safest capital city?

    Islamabad’s inspector general of police, Muhammad Ahsan Younas, mentioned to a national assembly standing committee of interior affairs on Wednesday that “not a single house robbery case has been reported since December 18, 2021 in the capital.”

    Briefing the committee about the law and order situation in the Pakistani capital city, Younas said that the city had witnessed a drop of 70 per cent in street crimes and car lifting incidents.

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    The senators were enquiring about the status of security since November 2021 when a senator’s home was robbed. Newspapers had reported how a gang of robbers conducted a daring robbery in broad daylight at the house of a senator in a well-appointed Islamabad locality. The armed robbers tied up the senator’s spouse and guards and looted cash and jewellery.

    The incident left the small city with a yet smaller and highly secured population shocked.

    Islamabad is home to about 1,164,000 people – less than a twenty-seventh of Delhi’s or an eighteenth of Dhaka’s population.

    And, while the capital city of Maldives, Male, has about a tenth of Islamabad’s population, it would be a folly to forget that it is the world’s most densely populated capital city. By contrast, Islamabad has been more silent than New York’s graveyard.

    According to the police, Islamabad has witnessed an upward crime trend over three years until 2020. A total of 9,465 cases had been registered in 2018, another 9,748 cases were registered in 2019 and the numbers jumped to 10,539 in 2020.

    In 2021, the capital city’s police told a separate legislative committee that the city witnessed 130 murders, 585 thefts, 954 robberies and 47 cases of rape.

    All hunky-dory?

    But the November 2021 incident seems to have faded into the recess of memory of the city’s residents.

    In a conversation with OWSA, a resident of the city seemed to concur with the top cop’s claim of zero robbery cases for two months now. “It is nothing to be surprised about,” she said. “Islamabad is Pakistan’s capital city and has lot of security.”

    The Islamabad resident who wished not to be named said that she had not heard of instances of robbery in the recent past. “It is very safe, small city,” she said. “I cannot recall when I last heard of an instance of robbery.”

    There are, however, some issues about security in the city of Pakistan’s elites. According to the police boss, two police officials were killed and 11 sustained injuries in incidents (described as “terrorist incidents”) over the past two months.

    The weakest take the blame

    The police blame residents of the katchi abadi for crime. Islamabad’s 52 katch abadis, or informal, unregulated settlements, are home to over 100,000 people, mainly Punjabi Christians who comprise roughly 35 per cent of the population, besides Pakhtuns and Afghan Hazaras.

    The vast majority of katchi abadi residents are work-hands, sanitary workers and domestic workers who serve the labour needs of the city.

    For policemen across the world, refugees become easy fall guys. This is also the case with the Afghan refugees in the city and the Islamabad police that has undertaken a drive to register Afghans in the city. So far the police have registered over 4,000 Afghans.

    But the Islamabad resident OWSA spoke to didn’t feel that Afghans were a problem. “There a lots of Afghans in Islamabad,” she said. “They are very hard working people. They run restaurants here.”

    Like anywhere else, Islamabad’s police too has its black sheep and abuse of power is not unknown. The senior police official said that an “FIR has already been registered against four officials of Islamabad police who opened fire at three students.” The accused men are in the police’s custody and are also facing a departmental inquiry.


    Image: Wikimedia – A police station in Islamabad

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