(National): Solution to Karachi problem lies in empowered city govt: Moot told

Karachi:The solution to the Karachi problem lies not in the packages or secession from Sindh, but in the establishment of an empowered city government. Karachi’s civic issues will not be allowed to be seen in terms of linguistic and ethnic prejudices. Karachi is part of Sindh and those who raise the issue of its secession were the enemies of this city.

These views were expressed at a consultative meeting organized by Shahri Awami Mahaz (SAM) chaired by Nasir Mansoor, General Secretary of the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan. The meeting was attended by citizens’ representatives from six districts of Karachi. Issues of Karachi city were discussed in detail in the consultative meeting and a joint declaration was issued.

The declaration said that Karachi, despite being the seventh-largest city in the world and the largest in Pakistan, lacks basic civic amenities. The city provides 25 percent of the country’s GDP and 95 percent of Sindh’s GDP. The city had an annual GDP of 164 billion USD. But its citizens were deprived of basic civic facilities like electricity, water, sanitation, gas, roads, transport, education, health and better infrastructure.

This was the only city in Pakistan where the power supply system to the city was handed over to a foreign company which had been causing constant suffering to the cities. On one hand electricity tariff were being increased without any valid reasons while on other hand duration of load shedding had been increased twelve to fourteen hours. Karachi was under control of land mafias, more than 65% of the city’s population lived in unregulated slums, while 40% of the city areas had no access to drinking water.

Due to mismanagement, incompetence of the concerned civic agencies and criminal negligence of the political parties claiming to represent the city, two rivers (Lyari and Malir) flowing in the city and more than 60 rainy drains (Nala) had been turned into gutters. Industrial complexes were dumping hazardous chemical waste into these natural waterways, spreading dangerous diseases throughout the city.

The waterway has been blocked by illegal constructions by powerful element with political backing at four major water outlets points to the sea. More than 60 percent of the city area war controlled and administrated by federal or federally affiliated entities, including Cantonment, DHA, KPT, Railways and other for 70 years. The elements who were demanding to hand over Karachi to the federation need to look at the performance of these institutions. However, the condition of FATA under the control of the federation after seventy years also indicated that the federation had miserably failed to perform its constitutional duties as a result these areas were merged to the KPK province.

It was unfortunate for the city of Karachi that the federal, provincial, and city governments had proved by their actions that they had no concrete plan to solve the thorny issues of Karachi. Karachi’s census was a proven fraud which had deliberately reduced the population of the city. As a result, the share of city’s representation and share in resources had decreased drastically.

The megacity with a population of more than two and a half crore (25million) still lacks public transport. In the last 40 years, the government had not launched any housing scheme for the citizens and had not set up any hospital or educational institution in the face of its ever growing population.

This weekend, the Prime Minister was visiting Karachi for the sixth time and going to announce the package for the second time. Citizens were still waiting for the package of Rs 126 billion announced by the PM earlier. Citizens know that that kind of packages, like other packages, will prove to be a pack of lies. The present federal government had announced when it came to power that it would solve the problem of Karachi within 100 days, but even after two years, the problems of Karachi were still there and aggravated.

The citizens of Karachi believed that if the provinces adopt a system of democratic city governments with powers in hand, then cities like Karachi will not need any package or aid. Citizens of Karachi were protesting against the devastation caused by coronavirus and recent torrential rains, but no government was serious about solving their problems.

Participants in the meeting were Nasir Mansoor (National Trade Union Federation), Zahra Khan (Home Based Women Workers Federation), Khaliq Zardgan (Lyari Awami Mahaz) Rehman Baloch (Shameer Welfare Trust) Aqib Hussain (organizer Youth Group), M. Sharif (Bolach Welfare Organization), karamt Ali (PILER), Comrade Azhar Jameel, Jannat Khan (PTUDC), Sajjad Zahir (progressive writers Association) Zubair-ur-Rahman (columnist), Saira Feroz (United HB Garment Workers Union), Shabnam Azma and Saeeda Khatoon (AEFFAA) and others’.