On a trip to Karachi during the summer monsoon season 2019 the Federal Government made loud promises about cleaning up Karachi (and its drains) within one week. To add substance to the claims the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) and the Pakistan Rangers, both branches of the powerful military establishment, were handed the task. The Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping was appointed to handle the task and, as with the PML-Ns ‘law and order’ clean up initiated in 2013 – the Federal Government was prepared to go it alone if the efforts were not supported by the provincial and civic authorities.
Yet another public fund (remember the Dam Fund?) was created to solicit public donations to help pay for Karachi’s cleaning. One supposes charitable funds are required for this essential civic service because not enough taxes are collected by the authorities in Karachi? Not.
|The Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) building. The KMC is one of the several governmental agencies responsible for Karachi's current state of civic neglect. (Photo: Wikipedia)|
One year later – monsoon season 2020 - Karachites are reminded they live in Pakistan's largest orphan city. City roads are streams inundated with various blends of sewage and rain water – clean drinking water is an unrealistic dream not worth mentioning.
In other words, no substantial improvements have been made during the last twelve months. Additionally, there has been no accountability at any level neither for the civic lapses nor for the millions collected in donations by the 2019 Clean Karachi campaign.
As if on cue, accusations of blame regarding inaction and lack of preparedness are being hurled. These accusations are closely followed by tall claims about immediate action including by the Prime Minister himself, i.e. political grand standing.
While the city (MQM), provincial (PPP) and federal (PTI) governments' fight for supremacy over the goose that lays golden (revenue) eggs, ordinary Karachites continue to suffer. Karachites don't care which political party, e.g. ANP, MQM, PML-N, PPP or PTI, fixes their city. People simply want the political leadership to stop bickering and take action.
Pakistan’s leadership must ask itself if Pakistan can progress while its economic heart and largest city is mired in civic despair.
A listless Karachi places a glass ceiling on Pakistan’s development while a vibrant Karachi acts as a catalyst for national growth.
Conclusion: Karachites wait patiently for monsoon 2021 when, in all likelihood, they will again wake to urban flooding. The flooding will automatically be followed initially by finger pointing and subsequently by dramatic promises from politicians (and ‘non-political’ military men) of renewed efforts to clean Karachi. Ironically, while Karachi waits for monsoon 2021 the city will return to its usual water shortages and the water mafia.
Imran is a Singapore based Tour Guide with a special interest in arts and history. Imran has lived and worked in several countries during his past career as an international banker. He enjoys traveling, especially by train, as a way to feed his curiosity about the world and nurture his interest in photography. He is available on Instagram (@imranahmedsg); twitter (@grandmoofti) and can be contacted at email@example.com.