Nation special feature
Karachi, the biggest industrial and population wise city of Pakistan, has been named amongst the least safe of 60 major cities of the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) – the research and analysis division of The Economist Group – in a report released earlier this week. The report is based on the second iteration of the index, which ranks 60 cities across 49 indicators covering digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security.
Asia and the Middle East and Africa dominate the bottom of the index as Dhaka, Yangon and Karachi are at the bottom of the list. Of the ten cities at the bottom of the overall index, three are in South-east Asia; Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta, two are in South Asia; Dhaka and Karachi while two are in the Middle East and Africa; Cairo and Tehran.
Karachi was ranked 60, with 38.77 points, among all the 60 cities mentioned in the report. Karachi was added in the list in 2017. Although it performs poorly across all of the categories, it was dragged down by a very low level of personal security. This is a reflection of a number of factors, but the main reason is that among the cities in the index, it experiences by far the most frequent and most severe terrorist attacks, reads the report.
Karachi ranked 43.22 points and stood at 54th in terms of digital security. Marked as a low-income city, Karachi is placed on the last slot [60th] with 39.92 points when it comes to health security. As far as infrastructure security is concerned, the megalopolis was placed at 59th spot with only 40.11 points above Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Furthermore, lower-income cities-Mumbai, Delhi, Manila, Yangon, Karachi and Dhaka – all feature in the bottom 10 in this category.
Only five cities across the globe were placed above Karachi in the category of deaths from natural disasters. Annually, more than four people among one million lost their life in Karachi due to natural disasters. More than 500 people were either killed or wounded every year in Karachi due to terrorist attacks. The average might be less than the estimates and they were based on global terrorism database’s figure during 2007 to 2016.The city was ranked the last in the category of personal security.
Karachi was rated at the last rank in the list of 60 cities, which shows Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka are the top three safest cities in the world. “The 2017 Safe Cities Index retains the four categories of security from the 2015 version – digital, health, infrastructure and physical,” said the EIU in its executive summary of the report. The report specifically mentioned Karachi for being rated last.
Although it [Karachi] performs poorly across all of the categories, it was dragged down by a very low level of personal security (60th). This is a reflection of a number of factors, but the main reason is that among the cities in the index, it experiences by far the most frequent and most severe terrorist attacks. The fresh report came as a grim reminder of the study carried out and released by the EIU in August declaring the least liveable cities of the world. In that report Karachi maintained its 134th rank in the list of 140 cities, only managing to fare better than Port Moresby, Dhaka, Tripoli, Lagos and Damascus.
Dhaka, Yangon and Karachi are at the bottom of the list. Of the 10 cities at the bottom of the overall index, three are in South-East Asia (Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta), two are in South Asia (Dhaka and Karachi) and two are in the Middle East and Africa (Cairo and Tehran).
Regarding rising security concerns, it says that with the spread of closed-circuit television (CCTVs) and webcams around cities, technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics can greatly enhance the capabilities of law enforcement agencies to combat urban crime and terrorism.
In many respects it’s the very success of cities, in their role as global social and economic hubs, that makes them more vulnerable. As rural residents head for the city in developing countries and wealthy global capitals draw in international talent, vast demographic shifts are creating cities with previously unimagined population sizes. In 2016, there were 31 megacities – cities with more than 10m inhabitants. This is projected to rise to 41 by 2030.
The report says that manmade risks are also growing. As recent tragic events in European cities such as London, Paris and Barcelona have demonstrated, high-profile, wealthy urban centres are becoming targets for terrorist activities.
It may be recalled that theWorld Bank in its report last year highlighted the plight of Pakistan’s biggest city and suggests measures needed to be taken to preserve its position as the country’s main growth driver. The report titled ‘Pakistan Development Update – Making growth matter’, launched in collaboration with the Sindh government, devotes an entire chapter to Karachi’s problems. It states that Karachi continues to rank among the bottom 10 cities in the 2015 Global Liveability Index.
Karachi’s security and liveability face threat from regional conflicts, organised crime, and social and ethnic tensions arising from an incoming tide of immigrants, the report states. Despite it being Pakistan’s economic and industrial hub, Karachi’s infrastructure and institutions are in dire condition, making it prone to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, water scarcity and heat waves. Karachi faces a complex political environment, ad hoc planning, poor governance, and weak financial and institutional capacities.
Travel agent looted
Just last Thursday (12th October), robbers striking in broad daylight in the city’s so-called red zone deprived a travel agent of more than Rs300,000 near the Metropole Hotel traffic section on Thursday. The armed bandits managed to escape despite gunshots fired by a traffic police official posted there.
The armed robbery exposed security arrangements and effective policing in the city which has been witnessing unabated rise in street crimes despite a decline in other criminal activities including targeted killing on ethnic, sectarian and political grounds.
The incident occurred at a short distance from the State Guest House, which has lately been converted into the residence for the president of Pakistan when he visits the metropolis, while the Chief Minister House, commissioner’s office and chief secretary’s residence are also located in the same vicinity.
Police said the travel agent, identified as Amir Ali, withdrew cash from a private bank located on I.I. Chundrigar Road. As he reached his office near the Metropole Hotel and disembarked from his vehicle, two armed motorcyclists on one bike, who were probably chasing him, snatched his jacket containing Rs318,000 and sped away. Karachi South SSP Javed Akbar Riaz said it appeared prima facie that the suspects had chased the victim right from the bank and attacked him when they found a suitable place. “The robbers were aware that Mr Ali was carrying cash in his jacket,” the SSP added.
Women in biggest industrial city of the country are nowadays terrified because of increasing incidents of attacks by an unknown knifeman. Police claim that the suspect was suffering from some psychological disorder and he enjoyed the news of his attacks when it was aired by TV channels. He had also targeted many women in Sahiwal in 2015. However, after his arrest he was released on bail, they added.
Police produced a man M. Shahzad before a judge on Friday stating that he was a close aide of suspected knifeman M. Waseem, who has been targeting women in Gulistan-i-Jauhar and Gulshan-i-Iqbal.
The investigating officer stated in the remand papers that the suspect was a friend of the alleged attacker and both belonged to the same village in Sahiwal. He added that the suspect was arrested on Thursday and a knife was found in his custody. The IO further submitted that the held suspect disclosed during initial questioning that he provided cover to Waseem, who came to Karachi around a month ago, during knife attacks and also carried out reconnaissance.