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January 26, 2021

Apex Committee meeting: Fate of Karachi’s Safe City project continues to hang in balance

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January 26, 2021

KARACHI: The provincial Apex Committee meeting was told on Monday that the Anti-Terrorism Financing Unit (ATFU) has recovered Rs10.249 billion during five years from 2015 to 2020 and registered 144 cases and arrested 90 accused, of them 19 were convicted. However, the fate of critical Safe City project continues to hang in the balance as a company contracted for installing 10,000 cameras in Karachi has now been asked to give inputs about the project's feasibility and its PC 1.

While presiding over the 25th meeting of provincial Apex Committee at the CM House, the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, said the terrorists have no ethnicity, religion, language or nationality but their inhuman proclivity with like-minded elements makes it mandatory to regularly review the threat assessment to keep our city, the province and the country secure. The meeting was attended by Corps Commander Karachi, Chief Secretary, IGP Sindh, DG Rangers, Information Minister Information Nasir Shah, Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Additional Chief Secretary Home, Karachi Commissioner, Additional IG Karachi, Prosecutor General, Secretary Excise, provincial heads of intelligence agencies and other concerned.

Shah said, “Our law-enforcement agencies with the political will of the government have worked hard, rendered sacrifices and restored law and order in the province, particularly in Karachi." He added the threat continues to lurk, therefore, we should keep reviewing threat assessment in this forum. The meeting was briefed that terrorist groups were using social media to organize and to collect donations. The relevant LEAs and agencies are monitoring them and taking actions accordingly.

The Safe City project continues to hang in the balance for the last five years. The meeting was told that the provincial government has approved the Safe City project's PC-1 and required funding would be released. The pace of installation of 10,000 cameras would also be expedited. Besides the Sindh government has signed MOU with NRTC (National Radio & Telecommunication Corporation) on Dec 11, 2020 for installing surveillance cameras in Karachi. The Sindh Safe Cities Authority has been notified and Additional IGP Imran Yakoob has been posted as its DG. And worse, the Sindh govt has only now sought inputs of National Radio & Telecommunication Corporation on its feasibility study and PC-I.

The Home Dept told the cabinet that the Anti-Terrorism Financing Unit (ATFU) has recovered Rs10.249 billion from 2015 to 2020. They registered 144 cases and arrested 90 accused, of them 19 were convicted, appeals of 10 are pending while 37 were acquitted. The meeting was irked over 1,867 ATC cases that are pending with the courts. It directed the Law Department to request the ATCs to speed up the trial and also directed the Prosecution Department to strengthen prosecution of these cases.

The Home Dept pointed out that 42 out of 61 accused were sent to the military courts, of them 30 were awarded death sentence, seven referred to the Anti-Terrorism Courts. The military courts have disposed of 34 cases, awarded life imprisonment to two while acquitted another two. At present, 16 cases or appeals are pending with the high court and Supreme Court. The meeting was informed that as on November 30, 2020, 1,899 cases were pending in the special trial courts. Till December 2020, over 240 cases were instituted, of them 125 were disposed of. At this, the chief minister said the conviction rate stood at 19.02 per cent and acquittal rate was 78 per cent.

It was pointed out that law on Ballistic Signature has been enacted under title Sindh (Amendment) Act-2016. The Home Department has revalidated and computerized 387,031 arm licenses. During 2020, eight cases of hate speech were registered. In the light of APEX Committee decisions, several legislations was enacted. The provincial government took over 59 facilities, including schools, madaris and clinics during 2020-21. The government de-registered 20,051 NGOs and now only 5,148 NGOS stand active. The audit of 660 NGOs was conducted, of them 25 were recommended for Tier-II audit by CTD. As many as 78 organizations were placed in Schedule-I, four in Schedule-II, 440 persons included in Schedule 4 and the CTD has started re-verification of those enlisted in the Schedule 4.

Regarding the Afghan refugees, the meeting asked the federal government to adopt a clear-cut policy for their repatriation. In view of the threats against Quaid-e-Azam mausoleum, Fatima Jinnah House and Wazir Mansion, the meeting decided to enhance their security arrangements on a permanent basis.

It was pointed out that foreign diplomats of various consulates in Karachi move without security cover in the city. The police and other agencies recommended that Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be requested to issue necessary guidance to the diplomatic missions. It is also came into notice that VCs and professors of different universities and educational institutions were meeting foreign diplomats without getting NOCs from the government.

The Apex Committee urged the Law Department to seek concurrence of the Sindh High Court for appointment of exclusive Session Judges and Addl. Session Judges for trial of street crimes. The Additional IGP Karachi arrested 350 accused, and recovered 352 stolen or snatched mobile phones from Oct 2020 to December 2020.

The IGP Police, Mushtaq Mahar, told the meeting that DIGP Sukkur and SSPs Larkana, Kashmore, Ghotki, Jacobabad and Kamber are coordinating with tri-borders stakeholders and counterparts in Punjab and Balochistan to control the movement of anti-state elements, inter-provincial smugglers/criminals, weapon, narcotics.