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Our Recommendation1) Create Operation Ceasefire as a separate department within the Karachi police with its own police force that has only one purpose: violence control among political/ethnic groups.
2) Warn each group about a hard crack down for any shooting involving anyone in their groups. Give them a chance to get away from violence.
3) Don’t let anyone get away with violence and all groups must be treated equally.
4) A separate civilian court should be established, preferably outside of Karachi to expedite prosecution of criminals and they should be jailed far from Karachi.



Violence in Karachi has been a serious problem for a long time but it seems to be at its worst stage today. "More than 10,000 people have been killed in political and ethnic violence in the city since 2007," says Aftab Rauf Khan, a senior security official. "What is worse is that there have been no prosecutions." Karachi has become the world capital of murders.

This is clearly due to a lack of responsible authority with proper strategy to control the violence. In search of a solution, we came across two kinds of approaches to tackle the problem. These are apparently working, and we would like to share them with you.

David Kennedy’s Don’t Shoot Model: When Police Takes the Leading Role

The first approach is from a fascinating book “Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, And the End of Violence in Inner-City America” by David Kennedy, Director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control and a professor of criminal justice at John Jay college. It is amazing to learn that even in USA which has what is considered one of the best law enforcement agencies, they were unable to solve the homicide problem among gang members until a professor got involved and developed a proper strategy.

The problem: In the 1990s, Boston was facing a very serious (serious according to US standards) violence problem among gang members (mostly in poor, distressed, minority neighborhoods). The city averaged about 100 homicides per year. That homicide rate was over fifteen times higher than the national average.

The findings: David Kennedy worked closely with the Boston law enforcement agencies and after 15 months of learning, thinking and planning, here is what he discovered:
- Law abiding citizens outnumber gang members by a significant percentage.
- Gang members are ignorant of legal risks they face.
- Most of them are scared, trapped, and want out. Out of 20, there may be only 2 real players (shooters), the rest are scared or wannabes.
- There is no trust between gang members and law enforcement agencies. In general, law enforcement agencies consider and treat them as less than human and gang members think that their problems are a result of a conspiracy of law enforcement agencies (mostly whites.)
One story told in the book (paraphrasing) is that one person was shot, the cop asked if he knew who shot him and he said yes. The cop asked for the name but the victim said, I am not telling you any s**t and died.

When you hear the story that there was a gang fight and a 6 year old girl sitting out side of her home was killed, you just think that these are animals fighting and they do not care even if they kill a little girl. But when you consider all the facts and circumstances, you realize that the person who shot the girl might be terrified himself and just firing to protect his own life with no intention to kill the girl. He was probably someone who just met some new friends and was walking with them after having coffee. Suddenly one of his new friends takes out a gun and shoots at some people who are members of another gang. Now the other gang is after all of them and he has no choice than pick up the gun to protect his life. Gang members are shooting and protecting themselves because the law enforcement agencies are not protecting them. There are no consequences for the violence so they are violent.

The strategy: The core element of the strategy developed to reduce the violence was - Tell them to stop, focus on one problem (shooting) and focus on key offenders.

Law enforcement, criminal justice, is a massive, one-size-fits-all architecture. It’s the same for everybody, all the time. This was focused, customized, highly specific. It was narrow—don’t shoot. The normal frame said, don’t be in gangs, don’t commit crimes, don’t sell drugs, don’t carry weapons, don’t drink and don’t do drugs. Turn your life around. Go back to school, get a job, etc. This cut to the chase: Just don’t hurt people. Say any more -- don’t carry guns, don’t sell drugs, don’t recruit kids in your gangs—you couldn’t back it up. There was just too much of it. And too little of us.

Let them know what is coming and they may respond. You shoot, we will make your life miserable. Anybody shoots, you all pay. If we could not keep our promise, we would be back to where we started.

The implementation: The Boston police created a special group called Operation Ceasefire, identified and brought the most violent gang members in a room with cops, prosecutors, federal agents, probation and parole officers, grieving mothers and community leaders from their neighborhoods and told them:

We know you are all caught up in something you cannot control. We are also guilty in bringing the situation to this level. You are pissed. You are afraid to go home without a gun. You are not getting rich. You are destroying businesses and jobs.


We are going to make the streets safe again. We are here to say two things: One is we are sorry. But sorry is never enough. The second thing is we are going to fix it.

Violence stops today. We will go after everyone in your group if any of you shoots. And we will do the same to anyone who shoots at you. We will not rest till we catch you and you will be prosecuted federally so you are put in jails anywhere in USA, away from your home, family and friends.

The team watched and warned gangs. Gang members were a lot more rational than they got credit for. The team could talk to them and they listened. The team also offered social services and helped to create jobs by getting a funding from the federal government.

The result: Operation Ceasefire left things pretty much as they were before, minus the violence. It did not stop drug dealing or other problems. But it removed violence. And it did so without occupying, without “losing” the neighborhood. By working with gang members, not driving them into hiding.

Operation Ceasefire was launched in 1996. By 1999, the murder rate was down from an average of 100 per year to 31. A reduction of about 70%. Since then this strategy has been implemented in over 70 other cities and produced similar results in almost all places.

Dr. Gary Slutkin’s CeaseFire Model: When Citizens Take the Leading Role

The second approach comes from Dr. Gary Slutkin, a Chicago health practitioner who is eradicating and preventing gun violence in the most dangerous of urban areas through a unique model in which he treats violence as an infectious disease. Dr. Slutkin has found that 90 percent of this behavior is group-based, i.e. influenced by the actions of peers and gangs. Thus, as more shootings take place, more people begin using guns as a way to resolve problems: the behavior spreads from person to person, like a disease. His CeaseFire model, honed by years of careful implementation in North America is significantly reducing the incidence of gun violence in the U.S. and also spreading internationally.

Like battling an infectious disease, Dr. Slutkin’s approach roots out the most infected individuals and moves to stop the transmission at its source. Since 8 percent of the population of males accounts for 60 to 85 percent of violence across the U.S., CeaseFire concentrates on these highest-risk individuals. After locating situations where gun violence is likely to occur, “violence interrupters” are then dispatched to calm down potential shooters. For instance, when the victim of a violent injury is admitted to a hospital, the hospital contacts CeaseFire’s violence interrupters, who immediately arrive to “talk down” the victim and dissuade him from a vengeful attack. These violence interrupters are the core of CeaseFire’s model. Actively seeking street information, they are both an early warning and an early response system for violent activity. Often ex-felons and ex-gang members themselves, they are trained in conflict mediation and negotiation, and work around the clock to identify likely shooting incidents and arrive on the scene to mediate and discourage violence from escalating. Since the vast majority of perpetrators do not want to shoot someone else, but feel they have no choice, the violence interrupters provide them with ways out—one of the most effective is to remind them of the consequences their actions may have on their family and friends, even if they disregard their own lives.


The interrupters network weekly at formal CeaseFire meetings, where they discuss past and potential future episodes of violence and share their observations of emerging issues and trends within the communities. Building on the violence interrupters (i.e. stopping the transmission of violence at the source), the second element of CeaseFire’s model is reducing the incidence of violence by changing behavior and making gun violence socially unacceptable. CeaseFire’s Outreach Workers program mobilizes faith-based leaders, mothers, students, and gang members to implement the behavioral change necessary to put an end to violence. Anytime there is an outbreak of shooting in the neighborhood, CeaseFire outreach workers organize neighbors, friends, and family to stand in protest, asserting the idea that violence is simply not acceptable.

The final component is the partnership with law enforcement through Criminal Justice Participation, driving a shift in how society addresses violence within communities. Rather than rushing in with force, police officers contact CeaseFire when there has been a shooting or a murder in the area, allowing CeaseFire to lead the community response that prevents further escalation. In Chicago, the police force also faxes CeaseFire a list of shootings, their time and location, on a daily basis, which allows CeaseFire to map out trends in violence over time. Released in May 2008, the Department of Justice study cited the idea of violence interrupters as “groundbreaking” and the Obama Administration specifically named CeaseFire in the stimulus package as a model in violence prevention to be replicated in other cities. Although so far focused on U.S.A. inner cities, the CeaseFire model is not unique to gun violence; in many ways, gangs are not very different from tribal or militia groups. Thus, CeaseFire is also working with the American Islamic Congress in Iraq and the Community Security Initiative in Trinidad.

Possible Solution to Reduce Violence in Karachi

We are not experts in criminal justice nor have any experience with law enforcement agencies but we think a strategy to control violence in Karachi can be developed along the same lines, combining both methods. The key to successful implementation is that citizens of Karachi need to get organized and take a leading role. They should
1) Demand an Operation Ceasefire department within Karachi police; and
2) Create “Violence Interrupters” groups in each neighborhood.

Issues that are unique to Karachi are:
- Killing is done by workers of political parties (in power) and they are released if ever caught by the police because of verbal instructions from high ranking officials. High ranking officials can transfer or punish any police officer in other ways if his orders are not followed to release the violent workers.
- Police in general are extremely corrupt and can be bribed to release criminals.
- Police are not trained properly and unable to provide enough evidence to prosecute the criminals.
- There are no police unions to protect the interest of the police force.
- Police try to kill any criminals instead of bringing them to justice by the court. And many police officers are also killed by criminals.
- Prosecutors and judges are also corrupt or afraid for their lives if they prosecute violent criminals.

Our Recommendations:
1) Operation Ceasefire should be created as a separate department within Karachi police with its own police force that has only one purpose: violence control among political/ethnic groups.
2) The head of this department should be appointed with the help of a committee of citizens of Karachi. The Karachi Chamber of Commerce and other citizen groups in Karachi need to create a citizens committee that must demand and obtain the right to appoint and replace the head of this department. This will ensure that there is no influence by a corrupted political system.
3) A separate civilian court should be established, preferably out side of Karachi to expedite prosecution of criminals and they should be jailed far from Karachi.

The Strategy:
Nothing will work until we understand that we should hate the crime but not criminals and follow this strategy:
- Identify the small number of people in organized groups who are doing most of the shooting.
- Bring them in a room with policemen, prosecutors, federal agencies, grieving mothers and community leaders from their neighborhoods. Promise them you’re about to crack down hard on any shootings involving anyone in their groups, arresting all group members possible if any of them continues to use his gun.
- Then keep all the promises and treat all groups equally.

Violence is a major constraint to development in cities. Businesses stay out of violent areas, leading to poverty and unemployment. Fear is ubiquitous since most people have
lost friends and family to gun violence by the time they are teenagers. Finally, the social and economic costs of gun violence are staggering; it costs in billions annually in terms of lost revenues, economic productivity loss, and medical cost for gunshot injuries.


We think we are now at a time when all violent groups in Karachi are themselves recognizing that violence is not the solution. Life is miserable for everyone, businesses and jobs are leaving, and investment is staying out of Karachi.

People of Karachi, specifically the Karachi Chamber of Commerce, community organizations, labor and other unions, students/teacher bodies, minority groups and any law abiding citizens have to demand a cessation of violence and be willing to rise to get their most fundamental right - that is the right to live in a peaceful environment and to die naturally.

David Kennedy, a professor and self-taught criminologist, had this thought when he first visited what was then one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America: "This is not OK. People should not have to live like this. This is wrong. Somebody needs to do something."

And he recalls this conversation he overheard, shortly after piloting a ceasefire program:
"You hear one kid say to the other, 'Are you getting a ride home?' and the other kid said, 'No, I'm walking. Mom says it's okay now.' "

Building a nation is never easy. It requires hard work and proper strategy to grow a country and provide a good life to people. There are countries that have been poor for over 500 hundred years. Those countries still survive and people still live there but life is miserable and a burden for most people. We are hopeful that citizens of Karachi will not let it happen to Pakistan and rise to make Karachi and Pakistan a good place to live.



1) “Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, And the End of Violence in Inner-City America” by David Kennedy

2) Gary Slutkin