The city of Karach is a a mega city with a population of above 10 million residents. It has also witnessed political and sectarian strife since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.The local policing structure is poor and violent crime is on the rise. This brings numerous challenges for residents, which must be tackled by strategic means and using common sense knowledge of local conditions.
The city is deifinitely not a place where one can go with eyes closed and imagine everything will be A OK. Until and unless one has developed a personal safety plan and is aware of the rapidly changing security conditions, there is always a risk to our well being whilst resident here.
Threats include the likes of extortion gangs, political, ethnic and sectarian violence, burglary, robbery, kidnapping for ransom, getting caught in cross fire and sporadic firing in busy areas, bomb blasts, suicide bombings, theft, mugging, and assualt.
As local police is not efficient, depending on it for crime prevention and protection as in developed countries is not a good idea. One must make their own security arrangements through private means whilst resident in Karachi.
1. Regularly monitor local and national news for recent incidents, trouble spots and crime waves.
2. Keep regular liaison with your embassy or consulate and receive their security updates about specific regions and nature of threats.
3. Inform your embassy and consulate about your whereabouts.
A) At home
4. Residential properties should be selected in safe areas, and not in localities that have a history of ethnic or political violence.
5. Home boundaries should have high walls with spiked grill or barbed wire fencing to prevent scaling.
6. Gates should be high and strong and aways kept locked from the inside.
7. Windows should have grill and not left open at night.
8. During the night property should be well lit
9. Property should have CCTV cameras
10. There should be electricty back up in case of power failure which are frequent, and CCTV systems and emergency lighting connected to them.
11. If possible a guard dog should be kept in the property as it is indispensible and a much better option than a human security guard.
12. A number of private security firms offer armed guards for residential properties as well as close protection officers (personal body guards). These are effective to some extent but should be recruited with proper vetting and through a reputable supplier.
13. Domestic servants should be vetted prior to being hired.
14. At home valuables should be kept in lock and key when domestic servants are around to prevent their theft.
15. Home contents should be insured along with investment in other forms of insurance.
16. Fire fighting equipment and first aid kit should be kept on premisis and residents trained to use them.
17. Emergency telephone numbers should be placed at a conspicous place and a drill practiced as to what to do in case of an incident.
While travelling and in public
18. Do not wear expensive jewllery, watches or carry expensive mobile phones or accesories.
19. Do not dress odd so that you raise attention. Dress as locals do.
20. Avoid going on foot in local streets or new areas. Use car instead.
21. Do not leave car windows down and doors unlocked when in the car but roll up windows and keep doors locked to prevent someone opening the doors.
22. Do not stop if anyone in plain clothes and not in official law enforcement uniforms waves you to stop and get out of the car.
23. When commuting to work, avoid deserted areas. Use main highways where there is a lot of traffic.
24. If being followed by another car or motorbike, then drive at speed and try to shake them off.
25. Avoid 5 star hotels and events where westerners congregate for an event that has been in the news and media.
26. Avoid military establishments and law enforcement facilities as lately these have been targetted by militant groups.
27. Do not reveal personal contact details to strangers unless absolutely neccesary.
28. Do not meet strangers alone. Always in a group and at a public place. Never meet strangers if they invite you to their home.
29. Avoid driving late at night and never stop if asked to stop by anyone in any area. If you see a person lying down on the road and you think they are in need of medical assistance, do not stop. It is often a ploy.
30. Do not frequent banks to draw cash. Instead send someone else to do this for you and keep cash at home, then go many times to the bank. There are criminal gangs that keep an eye on bank visitors to be looted [often in connivance with bank staff] and then follow them.
In case you do get caught by criminals, who ask you for your posessions, then do not resist them or fight back. Give them what they ask and then as they safely let you go make arrangements for recovery.
In some cases, it is not advisable to go directly to the police, even if you have been a victim of a robbery or car snatching. Seek help from citizen police liaison commitee of Karachi along with your embassy or consulate staff. The best resource is your embassy. A phone call from them [if you are of a certain nationality] can get officlals in this country treat you like a VIP.