Just received this via email today – the text of a petition for Peace and De-weaponisation of Karachi that has been sent to the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Naeem Sadiq who sent the email says that anyone who agrees with its contents and wants to be a co-petitioner, is welcome to copy/amend the petition text (minus the petitioners) and add their own name and signature (there can be more than one signatory), designation or profession, postal address and phone number (NIC optional), and mail the petition directly to the SC at the address provided. Interestingly, the MQM last year introduced a bill seeking this aim as well. See Dilawar Asghar’s article critiquing the move at this link, pointing out that the long term solution lies in ensuring the “supremacy of the law. If the law is implemented, without any distinction and applicable to everyone, regardless of their status or affiliation that would be the first step.” Here’s the citizen’s petition:
Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry,
Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan,
Supreme Court of Pakistan,
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
Sub: Petition for Peace and De-weaponisation of Karachi
1. We the citizens of Karachi live our lives in unending fear of brutal violence, armed robberies, kidnapping and extortion. There is no location, street , organization or individual who is safe from the many well-patronized criminal gangs. Death and destruction trail the streets of Karachi. The only people who are safe are those who either live behind the 50 feet high walls such as those constructed at Bilawal House or those protected by containers and barricaded roads such as the Chief Minister or the Governor.
2. The Supreme Court Suo Moto case 16/2011 made two very important observations. It highlighted that 180956 gun licenses were issued by Sindh Home Ministry while 46114 licenses of prohibited bore and 1,202,470 licenses of non-prohibited bore were issued by the Ministry of Interior in the past five years. The judgment also stated that “Karachi be cleansed from all kinds of weapons by adhering to the laws available on the subject, and if need be, by promulgating new legislation.”
3. As a result of liberal distribution of arms licenses as well as massive inflow of illegal weapons, the crime rate in Karachi has continued to swell. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and other sources have reported the following figures for people killed in Karachi in the past 4 years:
a) Year 2009…… 1747 persons killed
b) Year 2010…… 1981 persons killed
c) Year 2011…… 2200 persons killed
d) Year 2012, Jan to Sept …2024 killed (may exceed 2400 by end Dec.)
The number of people killed in Karachi each year has been increasing in direct proportion to the number of weapons injected into the city. It has now been proven without any doubt that the more weapons that are pumped in (licensed or otherwise) the higher is the level of killing and carnage.
4. It is most regrettable that despite this obvious correlation between weapons and crime, the Honourable Governor of Sindh has recently announced that arms licenses be issued to members of the business community ostensibly to combat criminals associated with the ‘bhatta’ mafia. So the state has formally surrendered and relinquished its responsibility to protect the life, liberty and property of its citizens. The rich and the influential can now have the arms licenses, while common citizens must brace up for receiving an assassin’s bullet every time they step out of their homes.
5. The residents of Karachi have been subjected to bloodshed, arson, kidnapping, abduction for ransom, widespread violence and illegal collection of money (bhatta). Their inalienable Fundamental Rights, such as, security of person; inviolability of dignity of man; freedom of movement; freedom of trade, business or profession and protection of property have been violated. These are gross violations of fundamental rights enshrined in Articles 9, 14, 15, 18 and 24 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
It is, therefore, most respectfully prayed that the Honourable Court may graciously pass judgment and orders in the following terms:
1. The Honourable Governor and the Government of Sindh be restrained from issuing any arms licences of any type to any individual regardless of his rank, status, party or profession.
2. The Arms Ordinance of Pakistan may be struck down. The Ordinance provides discretionary powers for issuance of arms licenses. It is grossly misused as an instrument of bribe, appeasement and subsequent violence. It de facto takes away the right to life and liberty of ordinary citizens and hands it over to those who have the power, influence or money to obtain arms licenses.
3. No citizen, regardless of his rank or status, rich or poor, religious or secular must be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon of any bore – licensed or otherwise. Providing security is the responsibility of the state, and it must not be sublet to private armies or individuals.
4. All gun licenses issued so far be cancelled.
5. Karachi must be purged of all weapons, both licensed and otherwise, in a planned, and coordinated manner using full force and all resources available to the government.
6. All barricades, roadblocks and containers be removed from all places of use by common citizens in Karachi. The police contingents and police mobiles assigned to protect ministers, parliamentarians and government officials be drastically reduced and the police diverted to combat the real culprits.
7. All quotas for arms licenses allocated to members of parliament be completely eliminated.
8. Actions be taken to eliminate the smuggling, transportation, storage and sale of weapons all across Pakistan.
1. Ms. Amina Jilani, Columnist
2. Dr. Awab Alvi, Dentist, Social Media Activist
3. Dr. Farhat Moazam, Physician and Bioethicist
4. Kaleem Durrani, Social Worker
5. Kamyla Marvi, Women and Health Activist
6. Naeem Sadiq, Occupational Health, Safety and Environment Consultant
7. Najm-ul Haq, Businessman, Community Development
8. Najma Sadeque, Researcher, Rights and Advocacy
9. Nazim F. Haji, Entrepreneur, Founding member Citizen Police Liaison Committee
** Mr. Zahid Ebrahim has kindly agreed to provide pro bono legal support