The Supreme Court has observed that police department has failed to protect rights of citizens due to political interference.

During Wednesday’s hearing of the Karachi law and order case, Justice Anwer Zaheer Jamali said the police was operating at the behest of politicians, adding that, officials were more loyal to political parties than to their own institution. A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Jamali, and including Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard the case.

During the hearing, the bench ordered that the government should abolish the formation of groups on the basis of language. Responding to which, Advocate-General Sindh Abdul Fateh Malik said it was not possible to form new groupings in the city.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir said that there was a procedure available which could abolish the formation of such groupings.

Qadir added that the procedure can be successfully employed after the census. Director-General of Sindh Rangers Maj-General Rizwan Akhtar  and Inspector General (IG) Sindh Police Mushtaq Shah also appeared during today’s hearing.

The bench expressed displeasure over all high-ranking police officers’ presence in the court, ordering SHOs to go to their respective areas.

“Who will maintain law and order in the city if all police officers gathered in the court,” the bench observed, and ordered authorities to remove police vehicles parked outside the court.

The court ordered cancellation of all non-computerised arms license within six months. The bench came heavily on IG, CCPOs and other law-enforcers, observing that police department has failed to protect rights of citizens due to political interference.

Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, head of the bench, said people of Karachi thank God on the day when three people are reported killed, considering it a decline in target killings.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said “police have failed to safeguard people. Who is responsible for killings over the past 13 months?”

The court required Advocate General Sindh Abdul Fattah Malik to inform the court as to how the provincial government has planned curbing violence in Karachi.

At which, the AG said “score of today’s killings in six.” His reply irked the court, Justice Usmani asked “is loss of people’s life is mere scoring? Is it a matter of sixes and fours?”

The AG went on contending that Balochistan’s situation is worse than that of Karachi. The bench did not buy the argument, saying state of affairs of a province should not be taken as reasons for another province. “The rulers will fail to deliver if they remained busy in saving their chairs,” one of the bench member said in his remarks.

On which, the Rangers’ director-general said that along with the police, an additional contingent of Rangers was also assigned for the purpose.

Justice Jamali said the issue of extortion was so prevalent that groups had divided regions amongst themselves.

The bench asked DG Rangers if there was any pressure on him from any quarters.

Responding to which, he said that there was no pressure on him and that the police and Rangers conducted joint operations independently.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said that instead of issuing arms licenses to the citizens, the police should fulfill its responsibility of protecting the citizens. Justice Jamali remarked that elected representatives and ministers facilitate the issuing of arms licenses in order to increase their vote bank and therefore engage in corruption.

Justice Jamali said even certain criminals who were wanted in cases were issued arms licenses, adding that, there was no system of check and balance.

Additional Home Secretary Waseem Ahmed recommended that the government should, in collaboration with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), carry out an assessment of the arms licenses. Ahmed said the city’s law and order situation had improved recently.

To which, Justice Hussain asked how the situation had improved when newspapers had been on a daily basis reporting on the violence prevalent in the city.

Also during the hearing, Sindh’s advocate-general said arms were being brought to Karachi from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, adding that, people were being killed on the pretexts of the language they spoke and other cultural affiliations. Justice Jamali said ordinary citizens were not being offered any security, adding that, protection was only being provided to influential individuals.

He said the police was operating at the behest of politicians, adding that, officials were more loyal to political parties than to their own institution.

Justice Jamali further said that there was barely an industrialist or businessman in the city who did not pay extortion money. Moreover, Justice Osmany said there was no writ of the government in the city.

Since January 2012, 1,897 people had been killed in the city, Inspector General Sindh police Mushtaq Shah said. The hearing was subsequently adjourned until Thursday.