KARACHI: Anila Muhammad Aslam, a small-town girl from Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, said she was proud she could be part of a newly formed force of weapon-yielding elite commandos that will soon be seen weaving through the streets of the megacity of Karachi, fighting crime - on roller skates.
With a notoriously corrupt police force and teeming alleyways in which gang wars and ethnic, sectarian and political violence thrive, Karachi, a city of over 15 million people, is known to be one of the most difficult cities in Asia to police. It is home to Pakistan’s main stock market and handles most of the cash-strapped country’s shipping. The city also generates much of Pakistan’s tax revenue — and some of the country’s most wanted men.
Now, authorities hope the new skating force of 20 commandos, ten men and ten women, will help bring down crime rates and improve Karachi’s image when it rolls out in early February.
“I am very proud that I am part of this skating force,” Aslam told Arab News at the office of the Special Security Unit, originally established in 2010 to provide security to VIPs.
Aslam, a top-scorer of her batch at the police training center in Razaqabad, said few women from her village had ever joined the police force but now girls she had gone to school and college with wanted to follow her example and were sending messages to let them know about upcoming vacancies.
“My message to the girls is that we are ten lady commandos and ten gent commandos who will work together and you will see us protecting [people] on the roads soon,” Aslam said. “And you will soon come to know that girls are no less than boys.”
Deputy Inspector General Maqsood Ahmed Memon, who leads the unit, said the force was being run as a pilot project for now and comprised commandos who had been selected on merit from among thousands and undergone rigorous training in crime-fighting and counterterrorism.
He said the skating force would be backed by car and motorcycle patrol units but the “highly trained commandos” knew how to handle their weapons.
“I understand when you do something unique or something new, there’s always chances of error; there’s always a chance of mistakes while on duty,” Memon said. “But these are highly trained commandos and they know their weapon handling very well.”
He added: “We will make sure that no innocent citizen is harmed when they [commandos] are going to a crime scene or catching criminals.”