Faryal Talpur—Villain or heroin?

Salahuddin Haider

BARELY few days ago, Asif Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur showed up at the City Hall of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, chaired a meeting of senior officials, and commandeered them to clear Karachi of dirt and garbage dumps.
Apparently a very good omen for Pakistan’s principal city of 20 million, which simultaneously is the country’s economic engine, and rightly described as the sixth biggest city of the world, but Faryal’s move raises questions about her real intent. Is she, or can she be really serious in addressing the problems, Karachiites have been facing since long, or is she just attempting a photo session , or was her attendance at KMC, was mere desire to take over the PPP leadership.
Whatever the motive, she did try to portray herself in a new role. So far, like her ill-reputed brother, she too was known for her lust for wealth, wanted to be counted among the rich, for she was trying to be a real estate tycoon, and was seen building high-rise shopping plazas in Islamabad and Karachi.
While her first project in Islamabad is located at prime area, her shopping plaza in Karachi is currently under construction just along the wall of the Karachi Club near Dr Ziauddin Road. It is a known fact that before starting her second major venture, she brought pressure on the Club management to sell them the land, next door to her. The then President of the Club, was given tempting offers, from ministry to rich monetary benefits.
The problem was that the Club Constitution clearly declared its members being the rightful owners of the Club and its property. No individual or even the entire governing body, elected annually, had the right to strike under-hand deals. The sale or disposal off of Club property, can only be finalized by the two-third majority of the Club general council at extraordinary meetings.
After failing to win over the club management, she started raising the building, which is almost in finishing stages. Its height has caused embarrassment to Club management, which had to shield ladies from disrespectful exposure, using the swimming pools exclusively for three days a week,by erecting artificial plastic covers.
Karachi was long ignored. The only time some genuine effort to develop it was made by late Mr Bhutto, who as founder of the Peoples Party, and its first elected prime minister, built new roads, widened the Clifton Road, Shaheed-i-Millat Road, Share Faisal leading to airport, and beyond, Share Kashmir, and Share Quaideen, besided giving the country its first nuclear plant near Buleji on the Hawke’s Bay beach, and also complete the Pakistan Steel.
Zardari, on the other hand, during the five years of his Presidency, forcibly vacated all the two dozen houses within the vicinity of the Bilawal House in Clifton, and has turned these into gala palace for fun and frolic with swimming pool in the basement, gymnasium, and what not.
Even the KMC road around the Bilawal House, has been turned into private property, closed to traffic. All this was done under the very nose of the la. Those entrusted to protect the laws, kept watching idly by. Faryal’s own house on 28th street in Phase 5 extension of DHA, has been turned into a huge complex. The main street leading to arterial Share Shamsheer, in Phase 5, has been turned into a nightmare for bungalow owners, who are unfortunately her neighbors. Huge police force of 30 to 35 men stand guard round the clock, and half a dozen police vans remain parked there all the time.
Is this the role of an elected member of the parliament? She has to answer. Now she has come out to supervise development schemes for Karachi. During her maiden visit to KMC building, she alongwith Sindh Local Bodies minister Shoro, reminded the Karachiites that their water needs will be met by the prestigious project, money for which has now been sanctioned.
The question vital to these funny stories is that what made the PPP, sit over 8 long years over the K-4 project for supply of 100 million gallons per day to Karachi, for 5 years. The project was conceived, designed and approved by Mustafa Kamal, the young and enterprising mayor of Karachi in 2006. It did rot for such a long time, and now suddenly, after local bodies elections, where MQM emerged as a clear winner, the PPP realized that it has to put up some face to the people of Karachi. Faryal woke up from slumber to order quick completion of the mega project.
Garbage dumps on main thoroughfares of Pakistan’s biggest city can be seen all over. Was the PPP sleeping so far?. Why Faryal Talpur has woken up now to be so mindful of her responsibility of a city which is the seat of her party’s government. Big question—needing clear answer.

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