Ever since the Taliban led government came to power in neighbouring Afghanistan, the smuggling of foreign cloth through the Torkham border has become non-existent but the end of smuggling has given rise to street crime in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) capital.
Prior to the withdrawal of United States’ troops from Afghanistan in 2021, cloth being smuggled illegally into Peshawar, via the Torkham border, was a routine occurrence. Now with the Taliban government in power in Afghanistan, the smuggling has come to an end. However, those who profited off the smuggling, have now turned towards street crime to cut their losses.
As per information obtained by the provincial police department by the Express Tribune, about 50 to 60 smugglers, who were profiting heavily off bringing cloth illegally to K-P, are now involved in street crimes in the provincial capital, which has become an arduous challenge for the K-P police.
Last month, Chamkani Police, a neighbourhood in Peshawar, arrested 2 of these former smugglers, who shot at the police whilst trying to flee.
The Superintendent of Police for Peshawar rural, Zafar Khan, while talking to the Express Tribune, informed that the 2 former smugglers had confessed to taking part in 700 incidents of street crimes like phone snatching, motorcycle and car theft, and murder.
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“The arrested individuals conceded that they were previously involved in the smuggling business and were now resorting to street crimes to make ends meet,” said Khan.
The confession and Khan’s statement are backed by data as well. Numbers obtained from the K-P Police show that a 30 per cent increase in various crimes was recorded in the city this year. To illustrate further, Peshawar witnessed 90 instances of street crime per day in the preceding year, which is up to 129 instances per day.
The obtained data also shows that there were 296 cases of robbery reported in Peshawar in 2022, whereas this year, in 9 months, that number stands at 323 cases.
Similarly, 200 cases of motorcycle theft were reported in the entirety of 2022, a total which has already been equalled in 9 months of this year.
Furthermore, a total of 327 cases of murder were reported last year; this year, the number has risen to 370 and is expected to rise.
A senior officer of the investigation department of Peshawar Police, commenting on the numbers on the condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that more than 60 per cent of the accused in street crime are Afghan nationals.
“The provincial government has also expressed concern over the involvement of illegally residing Afghans in the increasing incidents of crime in Peshawar. In a recently held meeting by the Chief Minister, instructions have been issued for a large-scale crackdown against Afghans residing illegally across the province to combat the issue,” the officer disclosed.
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Senior Superintendent Police Operations, Kashif Aftab Abbasi, concurring with the information, told the Express Tribune that in the ongoing crackdown 352 individuals have been arrested and a majority are Afghans.
When asked about the Peshawar Police’s strategy vis-a-vis the crackdown, Aftab stated: “Special blockades are being put up in Peshawar to control street crime and operations are also being conducted against Afghan refugees living in the city without documents.
Afghans who are involved in crimes are arrested, sent to jail, and then deported under the Foreigners Act.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th2023.