KARACHI:

Businesspeople have expressed grave concerns and fretted about rising extortion slips and the targeted killing of traders, demanding that the government and law enforcement agencies take action against criminals spreading terror in north Karachi, Kharadar, Mithadar, Korangi, and other areas.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, they highlighted that those running Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) recently received a significant number of extortion slips.

“Industrialist Usama Moon, belonging to the North Karachi Association of Trade and Industry (NKATI), was killed in a targeted attack a few days ago. Additionally, three other industrialists received extortion chits (slips). We are genuinely worried about the sudden rising wave of such heinous crimes in the past three months. Following a poor law and order situation, many individuals who were encouraged to invest are now hesitant to start or run businesses. I appeal to those governing to take stern actions against extortionists, targeted killers, and street criminals promptly. We fear a recurrence of the gory incidents witnessed in 2012 and 2013. Furthermore, we have a meeting scheduled today with DG Rangers, who assured us of more force deployment in the area to control and maintain law and order in my industrial zone,” said NKATI President Faisal Moiz Khan.

He mentioned that the police are investigating the targeted killing of the industrialist while arresting scores of suspected extortionists.

Strongly condemning the new wave of street crimes and targeted killings, Site Association of Industry (SAI) President Muhammad Kamran Arbi urged all law enforcement agencies to play their role in curbing the situation. He emphasised the need for a smooth business environment as industrialists and the business community already grapple with rising business costs.

Read Peshawar tackles extortion threats

Businessmen Group (BMG) Chairman Zubair Motiwala stated in a release that the overall situation has become extremely worrisome, significantly affecting the investment climate. The business community is in doubt about whether to continue operations here or leave the country. Referring to the consecutive target killings of traders in Timber Market, North Karachi, and the recent incident at Gurumandir, he called for an improvement in the situation, given the existing challenges of inflation.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh reported that shopkeepers and traders in the busiest commercial markets, including Kharadar and Meethadar, have started receiving extortion threats. Additionally, there is a frequent occurrence of armed snatching incidents.

“We are completely serious and sincere about strictly dealing with the situation, particularly the rise in extortionists’ activities and incidents of kidnapping for ransom,” said Additional Inspector General of Police Khadim Hussain Rind, speaking at a meeting during his visit to KCCI. Agreeing with concerns about the increase in crimes, he pledged to strictly address all such elements, ensuring a secure environment for the business community and locals. He also nominated SSP District City South Zone Amjad Hayat as the focal person for dealing with all law-and-order issues raised by KCCI.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2023.

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