CONSIDERING the unrelenting crime wave that has engulfed Karachi, law enforcers are understandably under a lot of public pressure to crack down on criminals. However, as the senseless death of a young man in the city on Tuesday has shown, overzealous and trigger-happy policemen need better training to ensure that no lives of innocent citizens are lost as they try and fight crime. As reported, Amir Hussain was shot by members of a police squad after he failed to stop when the cops signalled to him to pull over during snap-checking. The policemen gave chase and shot him twice as he tried to make his way into a Gulistan-i-Jauhar apartment complex. Senior police officials have admitted that a grave mistake was committed, and an innocent man was killed. This deplorable incident revives memories of the Amal Umer case; the 10-year-old child was killed in similar circumstances in 2018, when the vehicle in which she was travelling got caught in the crossfire between police and criminals. In that tragedy, too, it was a policeman’s bullet that took the young girl’s life.
The sad fact is that armed, violent criminals stalk the city without fear, and neutralising them is a major challenge for the police. However, strategies need to be devised to ensure that while fighting crime in congested urban environments like Karachi, no innocent individual is gunned down, and no collateral deaths occur in shootouts between police and criminals. The latest killing should spur the Sindh police to enforce within their ranks the rule that unarmed individuals must not be shot at. And if the police feel a fleeing unarmed individual truly presents a threat, they can use non-lethal methods to subdue them, such as tasers. The fact is that Karachi needs a better-trained, better-equipped police team that can intelligently fight crime without putting innocent citizens’ lives at risk, and that lethal force is resorted to only in matters of self-defence, or when the threat to public safety is obvious.