IT may be a case of “unknown” Rangers but, to borrow a phrase from a memorable statement once uttered by an American politician, there are also aspects of it that are “known knowns” — facts people are aware of (but which the Rangers would rather they were not).
However, the furore over the advertisements placed by some Sindh Police officials that appeared in various newspapers on Tuesday, each with a picture of an ostensibly missing person and alleging that “unknown Rangers” had picked them up, threatens to overshadow some very real concerns.
But first, to the appropriateness of the means whereby the information was disclosed: the Rangers’ ire at what they perceive to be an effort to malign them is justified to an extent. It is virtually unheard of for one law-enforcement agency to take such a step at an official level that undermines the credibility of another.
The move appears even more inexplicable given that the police and Rangers have been leading a joint operation since September 2013 to crack down on criminal/terrorist elements in Karachi, an operation that has led to an appreciable decline in heinous crimes.
There could, therefore, be some merit in the suspicion that this is an attempt to damage the working relationship between the two forces by quarters feeling threatened by the operation.
Nevertheless, while the intention behind placing the advertisements may certainly be questionable, it has thrown the spotlight on an issue that demands redressal.
There are persistent reports of people being arrested and detained by law-enforcement agencies without presenting them in court within 24 hours as required by the law. In a number of instances, individuals have been in custody for a month or even longer without their families having any intimation as to their whereabouts or well-being.
The law-enforcement authorities’ actions are particularly egregious because there is legislation giving them powers of detention for up to 90 days at their discretion, albeit after notifying the court. But in these circumstances, when citizens’ rights appear to be in abeyance, what recourse do the families of the missing individuals have?
Also, the people of Karachi must have ownership of the wide-ranging operation being conducted in their city; to this end, there should be a forum set up comprising some of its most eminent citizens to give their input and prevent the excesses that may in future unravel the gains made thus far.
Published in Dawn, October 9th, 2015