The ongoing Lyari gang wars have claimed 25 lives and caused injuries to more than 60 others, during the previous three days. On Saturday many troubled spots of the area relapsed into a virtual battleground where the police officials were caught off guard when the criminals pounded them with rocket launchers and grenades. An armoured vehicle was mangled in one such attack in the Afshani Gali area and the SHO leading the operation could not stand his ground against miscreants’ fire power and died on the spot. After a day full of bloodletting, the police officials in their utter helplessness had to issue shoot-on-sight orders.

That the area is awash with such sophisticated weapons is a sad commentary on the state of surveillance. Obviously it means that the notorious weapons’ mafia is going about its dirty business with complete immunity. It is a big question mark on police’s state of alertness since the weapons are smuggled into the city through a number of entry points in literally broad daylight. These weapons are put up for sale to everyone who can afford them. The violence that has rocked Lyari is only a symptom of the greater malaise that plagues the unfortunate city of Karachi. Indeed Lyari is only the tip of the iceberg; there are several other areas that are, perhaps, as bad where sophisticated weapons and target killers are found aplenty. This should be viewed in the backdrop of the country’s entire security situation where a constant supply of explosives and all sorts of firearms is invariably available for the terrorists. Under such gruesome circumstances when the law enforcement agencies ought to have geared up for the challenge, it turns out that they themselves have become sitting ducks for these miscreants. The shootout in Lyari where the criminals had even the police commandoes running for their life is a small testament to this reality.

It is high time the officials went about cleaning up the entire city. The urgent need to beef up the force both in terms of its strength and weapons is plainly manifest. Also it is necessary that political involvement in the force’s day-to-day affairs and appointment of SHOs which is one of the major hurdles in the way of peace was brought to an end. The federal government has girded up its loins too late but still it has time to arrest the rising graph of violence. The people who are tired of years of violence expect it to act with courage. The city that is the economic hub of the country cannot be abandoned to lawlessness.