Editorial : Extortion racket - Saturday 2nd April 2011

THE fact that traders blocked Karachi’s arterial M.A. Jinnah Road to protest against rising incidents of extortion on Thursday shows that the menace is getting out of control. The protest was sparked by a recent incident in which a trader was shot and wounded while resisting extortionists. Some suspect that the recent Empress Market blaze was also ‘punishment’ for resisting extortion demands. Backed by the city’s chamber of commerce, traders say they will observe a strike on April 5 unless corrective measures are taken. The business community has asked why the police have failed to nab suspects, especially when alleged criminals use cellphones to issue their threats, along with leaving their phone numbers on extortion notes. The situation has caught the attention of the presidency. But issuing statements and sending in the interior minister to rectify the situation is no solution; there needs to be visible action.
Protection rackets exist all over the world, often being run under the nose of the police. In Karachi, extortion is a well-organised affair, with many suspecting that the city’s main political parties are complicit in the racket. Criminals may well be using the parties’ names, but since none of the parties have taken a forceful stand against extortion the impression that politicians may be patronising criminal elements is strengthened. The city’s political stakeholders have the key to controlling the menace of extortion. The politicians must realise that by supporting criminals, they are punishing Karachi’s citizens. With high inflation and a climate hardly suitable for investment, the state and Karachi’s political players are not doing the city any favour by failing to act against extortionists. Last month, a suspected extortionist was lynched in Kharadar; the state must understand that if it continues to remain a spectator, this is the way in which the public will deal with the problem.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/02/extortion-racket.html

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