The project is a joint study between the Sindh Judicial Academy and the Research Society of International Law (RSIL) with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on law enforcement and judicial responses to urban violence in Karachi.
The megacity of Karachi has witnessed one of the fastest rates of urbanization in the world over the past seventy years. This exorbitant growth in such a limited period of time has placed considerable stress on State institutions to maintain law and order in the city. Home to various ethnic, political, religious, sectarian and criminal groups, Karachi has, at times, been mired in high levels of violence especially in the past three decades. From sectarian and ethno-political violence in the 1990s to modern forms of terrorism in the 2000s, the city has witnessed urban violence evolve as fast as it has itself. To tackle this threat, the law enforcement response to this violence has also evolved. The judiciary has played an important role in ensuring that those who perpetrate violence are punished while at the same time have also furnished landmark judgements defending the fundamental rights of accused persons and censuring State authorities for their excesses.
Despite the important role played by the judiciary in this regard, scant research is available examining the overall State response to urban violence in Karachi and, more specifically, the role of the judiciary in this regard. From a Constitutional and fundamental rights perspective, RSIL deemed it imperative that the phenomenon of urban violence in Karachi be studied with a view to informing the work of the judiciary. RSIL along with the Sindh Judicial Academy undertook a six-month study of urban violence in Karachi, its causes and effects, as well as the role of various law enforcement agencies in tackling this problem. The primary focus of the study, however, was how the judiciary appreciates the various forms of violence in Karachi, and how judicial decisions have shaped the law and order landscape in the city.
The study is based on RSIL’s considerable research in the fields of criminal justice reform, counter-terrorism and counter-militancy and includes field research, interviews, and focus group discussions of various stakeholders. Importantly, the study includes a review of the existing jurisprudence tackling the various forms of violence in Karachi. The methodology incorporates both qualitative and quantitative research techniques aiming to extrapolate trends, patterns, major issues, and potential reforms/solutions.