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Monday 19th August to Saturday, 23rd November 2013



Syed Aftab Haider, Customs Service Of Pakistan


Submitted to: Additional Directing Staff NIM

INTRODUCTION The Bhatta culture once considered only the part of foreign movies and criminal literature has firmly taken roots in Pakistans biggest city Karachi. As many state and non-state actors jostle for power, influence, and wealth in the country, the sprawling mega polis of Karachi has proved to be a rich resource of money and illegal funding for many political, religious, and militant groups, as well as other criminal elements involved in narcotics trade, prostitution, land grabbing and gun-running. Significance of the problem: Although accurate data pertaining to extortion related crimes does not exist in the official circles, the data compiled by the Citizens Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), shows that 630 complaints were registered in the first six months of this year as compared to 539 cases for the corresponding period last year1. However, many more cases go unreported as victims prefer to fulfill the demands of the extortionists rather than approach the police-partly out of fear of the extortionists but mainly because of trust deficit in the law enforcement agencies and the judicial process. It is indeed an acknowledged fact that the criminals involved in extortionist activities are highly organized, heavily armed, and dangerous. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) puts the number of extortion-linked deaths in Karachi to 545 over the six month period of January-June 20132 compared to 336 people over the corresponding period in 2012.315 people were reported to be kidnapped to facilitate payments between March and June 2012.4 Different sources estimate the amount of money generated through extortion at around Rs. 10-12 million5 per day that is collected from different shopping plazas, markets, industrial areas, small businesses, individuals, inhabitants of the illegal settlements, the transport sector and small traders.

1 2 accessed on September 17, 2013 accessed on September 17, 2013 3 accessed on September 17, 2013. 4 Conflict dynamics in Karachi, Huma Yousaf, United States Institute of Peace, 2012. 5 accessed on September 17, 2013. DG Rangers quoted an amount of Rs. 10 million before the Honorable Supreme Court during hearing of the Suo Moto case no. 16, 2011.

Extortion is one of the primary factors contributing to violence in Karachi and has been acknowledged as such by none other than but by the August Supreme Court of Pakistan. In its detailed judgment in suo moto notice 16 of 20116 regarding violence in Karachi, the Honorable Supreme Court has discussed the extortion culture and extortion linked crimes in detail and has held the lack of trust in the law enforcement agencies as one of the main reasons for the nonapplication of extortion related laws. Despite the Honorable Courts clear orders, however, the provincial and district authorities have failed to effectively curb this menace. As a result, the people continue to suffer. The traders of Karachi, one of the hardest hit by this crime, have gone on strike several times since the aforementioned judgment in October 2011. City wide strikes and Black Day against extortions and bhatta khori were observed by the All Tajir Ittehad, Karachi on March 17, and again on June 13, 2012. Extortion was projected to reach its peak during the Ramazan period as traders and businessmen reported increased incidence of extortion calls and letters. As recently as August 2013, the traders threatened to go on indefinite strike if the government did not take effective measures to curb extortion. It may be noted that a city wide strike even for one day costs the economy billion of rupees. EXTORTION; DEFINITION AND LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK Extortion defined: The 6th Edition of Blacks Law dictionary defines extortion as "the obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right." The actual use of the word is often confused with two other equally reprehensible crimes-blackmail and bribery however it is distinct from both. Blackmail also involves taking of money or some other valuable property from an unwilling person however rather than the threat of direct bodily harm, it involves the threat to reveal a secret that is presumed to be injurious to the victim. On the other hand, bribery involves the exchange of money from a willing person to another (presumably a government functionary or authority) in exchange for services or benefit that were not otherwise due or admissible. This study does not include extortion by government agencies and functionaries which has a real but dwindling presence in the extortion culture of the city.

Suo Moto case no. 16 of 2011 and C.P. no. 61 of 2011, Watan party & Others Vs. Federation of Pakistan & Others available on accessed on September 17, 2013.

Legal definition: Articles 383 to 389 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), 1860 deals exclusively with extortion. The Code defines extortion as follows: Whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person, or to any other, and thereby dishonestly induces the person so put in fear to deliver to any person any property or valuable security or anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security, commits "extortion".7 The PPC differentiates between extortion through fear of injury and extortion through fear of death in terms of punishment. However, the PPC is not the only set of laws dealing with extortion. Extortion is also covered under the definition of terrorism as per Section 6(2)(k) of the Anti -Terrorism Act (ATA)of 1997 and is punishable by imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than 10 years with fine.8 The ATA provides the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary with an effective set of stringent laws to deal with the extortionists. WHO ARE THE MAIN ACTORS INVOLVED IN EXTORTION Although the extortion culture in Karachi is almost exclusively attributed to the dominant political party in Karachi, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), it is not the only political party or actor involved in extortion. The armed wings of almost all political parties in Karachi, ethnic groups, religious and jihadist organizations, and criminal elements are involved in extortionist practices in the city. Militant organizations such as the banned Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are the latest entrants to this lucrative business. The main actors can be briefly categorized as follows: I. Ethno-political parties The following political parties have been identified as the main beneficiaries of the extortion rackets in Karachi. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM): previously known as the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, is almost unanimously blamed by independent analysts and political observers as responsible for

Pakistan Penal Code 1860, Article 383. The bold and the underline of the key words and phrases are the presenters own. 8 Section 7(h) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

organizing extortion rackets and making them more efficient and effective. MQM wields tremendous influence in the mohajir dominated areas of Karachi though the Jamaat-e-Islami also enjoys considerable support in many of those areas. Awami National Party (ANP): The influx of the Pushtoons from the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa province, swelled by the addition of the Afghan refugees in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, has considerably altered the dynamics and composition of the ethnic mix in the city. ANP is the dominant party in the areas inhabited by the Pushtoons. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP): PPP enjoys significant support in Sindhi dominated areas of Karachi, Lyari, and areas with mixed population where no single ethnic group is in clear majority. Each of these parties has been identified as the main beneficiaries of the extortion rackets running in the city along with the Sunni Tehrik (ST) 9. The parties use the money so generated to fund their activities as well as to mark their turf.10 However, like other aspects of social and political life in Karachi the changing ethnic mix of the population has also impacted the dynamics of the extortion culture as in addition to land and resources, these political parties are also competing over extortion rights often settling the argument through violent means. II. Religious organizations and Madrassas Extortion in a comparatively more benign form is also practiced by other religious organizations in the city. In the past few years, there has been a mushroom growth in the number of madrassas and mosques built on encroached land in the city. Several, though not all, of these madrassas have links to extremist organizations and serve as a medium for the propagation of sectarian and extremist ideologies as well as for generating money to fund the activities of these organizations. Besides, they also provide more leverage to the religious parties as they are able to mobilize street power rather more quickly and efficiently using the thousands of madrassa students. The proliferation of unregulated madrassas, added to the growing threat from the TTP and other extremist organizations, has increased the incidence of extortion rackets affiliated with

Suo Moto case no. 16 of 2011 and C.P. no. 61 of 2011, Watan party & Others Vs. Federation of Pakistan & Others available on accessed on September 17, 2013.

Conflict dynamics in Karachi, Huma Yousaf, United States Institute of Peace, 2012.

various religious organizations and extremist outfits. Most of these extortionist practices are carried out in the garb of religious donations and charity. III. Criminal gangs Apart from political parties and religious groups, organized mafias and criminal gangs are also engaged in extortion. Organized gangs operate in many areas of the city which have become no go areas for law enforcement agencies and even common citizens in some cases. Lyari with a population of one million people is one such example. Karachis most powerful and well organized criminal gangs operate from Lyari. It has been a hub of drug trafficking, kidnappings, gang warfare, weapon smuggling, and extortion for many years now. Lyaris warring criminal gangs were united under PAC by Rehman Dacait. For a period, PAC remained affiliated with PPP due to Lyaris strong political association with that party. After Rehman Dacaits death in 2008, there has been bitter war amongst the different criminal gangs operating in Lyari with the support of both PPP and MQM. Extortion remains one of the primary source of funding for these criminal gangs. IV. Militant organizations Militant organizations such as the banned TTP, the Afghan Taliban, and several other extremist organizations having sectarian agenda are the latest entrants to the extortion business in Karachi. Several of these groups have tied up with the criminal gangs in Lyari to make up for the absence of their own grass roots network. A large portion of the money collected through extortion is now being diverted to these militant organizations. Besides, indirect collection of extortion money, there are also reports of direct extortion by TTP affiliated organizations. The businessmen involved in trucking companies that ship NATO supplies to Afghanistan are the primary targets of such organizations. MODES OF EXTORTION The following modes of extortion have been observed in Karachi: Through letters and phone calls Through text messages Direct collection using brute intimidation and harassment Collection in the garb of charitable donations

Direct or indirect 11 receipted collections in the guise of voluntary contribution to party funds.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE AND FAILURE TO CONTROL EXTORTION Despite the presence of strong laws, law enforcement agencies have failed to control the menace of extortion. An anti-extortion cell established in March 2012 received only 15 complaints in the first ten days. As mentioned above, many people tend to pay the amount demanded rather than report to police. In the absence of law enforcement, extortion continues to be a lucrative business in Karachi. Some of the reasons identified for non-reporting of these crimes are: Lack of law enforcement- politicized police force, fear of repercussions Lack of trust on police Weak judicial system-lack of witness protection program, high number of cases, temporary and politicized appointments Unwillingness of the political parties and government authorities RECOMMENDATIONS Following measures are recommended for curbing the extortion culture: 1. Make the crime more visible to encourage reporting. How? a. Publicize criminal arrest and punishments (naming and shaming). b. Strengthen partnership between the criminal justice system and the civil society. The strategy has worked well in Italy which had high levels of extortion by organized mafias. 2. Strengthen victim security and witness protection to increase crime reporting levels. How? a. Provide incentives to victims for reporting the crimes- anonymous crime reporting may encourage more victims to approach the police. b. Initiate witness protection program.
11 accessed on September 18, 2013.

3. Strengthen law enforcement activities and the judicial system. How? a. Implement intelligence led policing strategies (proactive policing). b. Implement and enforce a zero tolerance policy towards extortionists (arrests, meaningful investigations, and full judicial process). c. Introduce more stringent laws for punishing extortionists including confiscation of properties of the extortionists.12 d. Develop common database for extortionists. e. Implement law related to state land and madrassa regulation. f. Depoliticize police. g. Improve effective monitoring of the Anti-Terrorist Courts. 4. Promote interethnic partnerships against crime especially extortion. How? a. Initiate community policing activities at the union council level comprising of representatives from all ethnic and political groups. b. Broaden CPLCs scope to make it more representative of the ethnic, political, and social mix of the city. c. Create a more balanced and inclusive police force. 5. Involve political parties to fight crime especially extortion. How? a. Engage political parties in crime prevention and control through the process of political negotiations. b. Strengthen auditing mechanisms of the party funds through the Election Commission of Pakistan.


Suo Moto case no. 16 of 2011 and C.P. no. 61 of 2011, Watan party & Others Vs. Federation of Pakistan & Others available on accessed on September 17, 2013.