Like New York City, Karachi is one of the world's largest cities with a dynamic and diverse population of approximately 18 million. But, apart from the common concerns of police working in any major city, the police of Karachi must also contend with extreme violence perpetrated by sectarian and organized crime syndicates resulting in hundreds of deaths per year. Outnumbered and under armed, Karachi Police combat kidnappings, face systematic targeted killings, and respond to daily civilian demonstrations that frequently turn violent.
Though Pakistan's problems may seem a world away, the instability and pernicious crimes expereinced in a city like Karachi are felt the world over. At the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), we work to combat these corrosive trends in the interest of local and regional stability. INL works to expand access to justice and maintain law and order by building the capacity of civilian law enforcement agencies to fight crime, meet basic community policing needs, and expand the writ of the state in ungoverned areas.
As part of our work to strengthen rule of law in Pakistan, we recently organized the first Karachi Police officer study tour to the U.S. This visit with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) led to identifying and implementing invaluable policing techniques for Karachi police that will go a long way to help secure the city. We organized a full agenda that included meetings with officers like Jimmy Hall, NYPD Chief of Patrol, to discuss effective patrolling strategies and then arranged “ride alongs” with NYPD patrol officers to see his strategies in practice. We met with Commissioner Kelly in the NYPD's Joint Ops Center (pictured), where delegates learned about the NYPD's use of technology in effective and prompt disturbance response. Over the course of 10 days, the delegates also met with dozens of bureaus and learned about the NYPD's innovative approaches to combating crime and proactively responding to threats.
Only weeks after the trip, Karachi Police now appear poised to implement some of the ideas observed in NYC. For example, to expand police capacity to respond to crime, the police intend to establish an operations center and city surveillance system based on the system utilized by the NYPD. For the first time in its history, the Karachi Police have also expressed interest in improving recruitment, training, and career advancement opportunities for women in the police force. These are only some examples of the immediate deliverables of just one of the many programs we support in Pakistan. In the interest of peace and security, we also partner with civil society and international organizations to reach local communities, train police in CPR and other vital job skills, provide life saving equipment such as bullet proof vests, and support construction of essential infrastructure. At the end of the day, however, we play a supporting role. Our work couldn't continue without a high level of commitment as recently exemplified by the courageous law enforcement professionals I was privileged to meet in New York.