Karachi is Pakistan's megacity, the country's financial hub and home to almost 20 million people.

But in the dark backstreets of this city, kidnapping for ransom is reaching crisis proportions. Whether fuelled by organised gangs or militants in search of funds, it has become one of the most profitable criminal enterprises in Pakistan.

More than 100 instances of kidnapping for ransom were reported in Karachi in 2010, but police acknowledge that thousands of cases of abduction go officially unreported each year.

With police struggling to cope, the people of Karachi are fighting back. 

A unique task force was born of widespread public disappointment and distrust of the local police. Made up entirely of volunteers working between their day jobs, the anti-kidnapping team is filling the void left by the authorities. It supports the families during negotiations, locates the kidnappers, and in some cases even brings about their arrest.

People & Power follows the perilous footsteps of an extraordinary Pakistani businessman determined to take on the kidnappers who operate with impunity in Karachi. 

"It was around 10 o'clock in the night. We made up the deal and that's how my father is back. I sent one of my employees to give them [the kidnappers] the money. My employee had money in his hand, wrapped in shoppers. A person came, said my father's name, he gave the money to that person, he took the money and within an hour, my father was at home."

Asif Halani, kidnap victim's son 

 

 
People & Power airs each week at the following times GMT: Wednesday: 2230; Thursday: 0930; Friday: 0330; Saturday: 1630; Sunday: 2230; Monday: 0930; Tuesday: 0330; Wednesday: 1630.

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Source: Al Jazeera