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 Overall Crime and Safety Situation

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Posts : 114
Join date : 2012-10-29
Location : Lahore Pakistan

PostSubject: Overall Crime and Safety Situation   Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:05 am

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Crime is a serious, ongoing concern for foreigners throughout Pakistan; carjacking, armed robberies, home invasions and other violent crimes occur in many major urban areas. Additionally, petty crime, especially theft of personal property, is common. Overall criminal activity in Lahore increased across the board in every major category during 2011. Lahore is a major city under development with a growing population, currently at ten million persons. As the city continues to grow in size and numbers of inhabitants, it is experiencing a parallel and steady rise in the overall crime rates over the previous several years.

Pakistan is rated “critical” for transnational and indigenous terrorism; “high” for political violence and “high” for crime. Because of this, the U.S. Department of State routinely issues Travel Warning updates and Emergency Messages for U.S. Citizens of the inherent dangers involved in travel to Pakistan. U.S. Consulate General (ConGen) Lahore’s Regional Security Office (RSO) monitors the security environment and routinely liaises with the Punjab Police to maintain the most up to date threat information.

In 2011, Pakistan and ConGen Lahore were at the centers of several historic and mission changing events. A COM employee and a private American citizen living and working in Lahore were at the center of two separate, unprecedented incidents that sent shockwaves through the diplomatic community and the entire country. These incidents continue to have drastic affects on the way day-to-day official business is conducted and in some cases, have curtailed some personal activities. These events, combined with the U.S. military’s covert operation to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, continued U.S. military drone strikes and the NATO cross-border friendly fire incident that resulted in the deaths of 24 Pakistani military members, have only increased the severe backlash of anti-American sentiment through the country.

Crime Threats

Crime rates continue to rise and anti-American protests and demonstrations have tripled since the beginning of 2011. Many of these demonstrations can be attributed to the killing of two Pakistanis by an American diplomat serving in Lahore. The host government tries to protect the life and property of its citizens but none of their strategies to thwart crimes have had a dramatic effect in 2011, which saw a constant surge in crime against persons and property in the provincial metropolis.

According to the official statistics of Lahore Police, reports of violent crime against persons increased across every recorded category in 2011. Police recorded 1,861 incidents of attempted murder in 2011, a 14.66 percent increase compared to the 1,623 reported attempts in 2010. In 2010 there were 542 murders reported, in 2011, while 598 murders were reported to account for a 10.33 percent increase. The incidents of theft also increased by 12.36 percent in 2011, with 2,226 reported incidents against 1981 incidents of theft in 2010. Lastly, in this category; incidents of reported sexual assault violence and forced-rape increased by a dramatic 21.96 percent in 2011. The increase in reported sexual assaults might also be attributed to a greater willingness by women to report such crimes.

An upward trend was observed in the incidents of robberies – including house and bank robberies, street crime, robbery-cum-murders, and kidnapping for ransom. In fact, violent crime was reported throughout the entire year. The ratio of crime against persons also increased in the provincial metropolis due to the easy availability of illegal weapons. In 2010, overall, around 5,450 incidents of crimes against persons were reported but this figure rose to 6,257 in 2011, with a 14.80 percent increase.

“Dacoity" is a term used by Pakistani police to describe armed gangs who roam the streets looking for easy targets. In the Punjab Police criminal statistics, dacoity is listed as its own category. In 2010, 398 incidents of house robberies were reported; in 2011, robbers committed 471 successful robberies amounting to an 18.34 percent increase. In 2010, 4926 incidents of street crime were reported, this number rose in 2011 to 5,427; a full 10 percent increase.

In January 2011, an U.S. government employee was the alleged target of an attempted robbery by two armed attackers, or dacoits, who struck in broad daylight. The two attackers had robbed two other victims of their cell phones and cash prior to their attempt on the U.S. citizen. The U.S. government employee may have been selected as a potential victim by his western appearance and the fact that he was traveling in a rental car. These conditions may have made him appear to be an “easier” target.

Crime against property saw a 15.51 percent increase as compared to previous year 2010. In the year 2010, around 193 incidents of gang robbery were reported while this figure rose to 257 in 2011, an increase of 33 percent.

The upward trend in the incidents of car and bike snatching was also observed during the year. Incidents of car theft also increased in 2011 by 12.83 percent. Approximately 1,254 cars were lifted in 2010 while around 1415 cars were lifted in 2011.

Motorcycle-lifters remained also active in 2011 as they lifted 3,612 motorcycles in 2011, with an increase of 24.76 percent as compared to 2010, with 2,895 reported incidents.

Mobile phone theft has also become a common practice for local thieves and occurs routinely, day and night. Under the head of miscellaneous thefts, around 891 incidents were reported in 2011 while around 672 such incidents were reported in 2010.

Roadway Safety

The roads in Lahore and the major motorways between major cities in the Punjab are paved and adequate. However, in outlying rural areas the roads may become narrow and unpaved. There have been minor vehicle accidents involving U.S. Consulate personnel during the year. Traffic conditions are poor in all the major cities of Punjab Province, including Lahore, Multan, and Faisalabad. Efforts to improve infrastructure are plagued with funding and construction setbacks.

Defensive driving in Lahore is a must. Roads are typically overcrowded; cars, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians move freely through city streets with very little attention or concern for situational awareness. Because of this inattentiveness, vehicle accidents and injuries are common place. Additionally, poorly trained and unskilled local drivers exacerbate these problems. At night, roads tend to be poorly lit and traffic signals are inoperative due to widespread power outages. Large number of individuals, animal drawn carts and cattle that travel along these unlit roads further hinder the drivers’ ability to safely navigate.

U.S. citizens traveling to Pakistan are strongly advised to avoid using taxis and other forms of public transportation. Travelers are encouraged to have members of their host organizations or families meet them at the airport. Over the past several years, there have been a number of incidents involving U.S. citizen travelers arriving at the international airport in Lahore. These travelers were met by their families, and robbed outside the airport of cash and jewelry, after being stopped by a car with fake government license plates. Such criminal schemes are common. [/size]
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