Nisar A. Memon; former Federal Minister & Senator
Karachi once considered MQM stronghold, surprised all in 2018 general elections when PTI grabbed 14 out of 21 National Assembly seats from the country’s economic hub and won 21 versus 13 of MQM from Karachi in Sindh Provincial Assembly, thereby betting on PTI versus the MQM which had controlled it since the 80’s. The local government polls are due soon which could replace the MQM mayor for his admitted inability to solve Karachi’s civic problems and social services delivery.
The current local government party MQM, provincial government party PPP and federal government party PTI seek political control of the city but what Karachi want is water, electricity, gas, public transportation, education, sewerage, sanitation, health, and security.
Is Karachi unjustified in its expectation when they contribute to huge revenue to all three governments – surely not! Should Karachi continue to buy unclean water from tanker mafia at huge price despite paying water taxes, or wait at odd hours to cook food due to negligible gas pressure, or rely on environmentally unfriendly diesel generators, or pay heavily the private education institutions making huge profits – surely not.
The miseries of Karachi can be addressed by good governance where mayor, chief minister and governor work in unison while staying within their constitutionally defined responsibilities and not distribution funds to selected favorites and destroying the democratic system. If all three work together, there will be no gaps to be filled by intervention system.
In recent times, Karachi has witnessed irresponsible behavior in TV shows, assembly, municipal council meetings indicating free falling moral code. This will neither help overcome the challenges nor help diffuse increasing conflicts between politicians divided on party, linguistic, sectarian lines. We need , elders group of individuals with unblemished record can help.
Karachi has many who have been successful in business, corporate, finance, legal, engineering, medical, security, social, education, research, and environmental science; with their experience and unblemished record can guide the youth to be part of thinking groups in putting action programs to get Karachi the place it deserves to be. Islamabad based think tanks are increasing, and engaged in foreign and security subjects, but Karachi can provide thoughts not only for the city but for the province and federation.
The city with its an airport, two ports, SEZ, financial hub, coast line, islands, lagoons, mangroves, architecture and over 20 million habitants is a ‘mini Pakistan’ and have been allocated Rs 45.5 billion for nine development projects in federal budget. Questions abound, are the allocated funds in proportion to the population it hosts from all over the country and even migrants from other countries. Surely it deserves better budget allocation with a focused governance.
The Quaid’s city demands justice and let us not allow ‘Chanda’ collectors to come back into play and cause havoc like in yesteryears. The city business entrepreneur is capable of generating revenues for the city if allowed the freedom and favorable consistent policies.
Pathans of SITE, Quaidabad, Sultanabad, Keamari, Bilal colony, Landhi; Balouchs of Lyari; Sindhis of Malir, Ibrahim Hydri, Rehri; new Sindhis of Azizabad, Liaquatabad, Burns Road; and all others deserve an enabling environment to kindle the path for all cities of Pakistan. Kolachi people are resilient and enterprising, trust them, unite and not divide them and they will be the engine of growth to ensure economic sovereignty of Pakistan to defend against all adversaries.
The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation announced a total receipts in the budget for year 2019-20 at Rs 26,449.825 million and the total expenditure for the next fiscal year at Rs 26,438.888 million. An engagement of experienced citizens can identify new avenues of revenue generation while plugging the leakages. Additionally, comparison of resource allocation of other cities of Pakistan will bring to the fore stark reality of under funding of Karachi. Gallup could undertake studies to identify city budget in proportion to population and contribution of taxes.
All hopes pinned on leadership are dwindling, only leadership can stop hemorrhage of its credibility, else they will face the music in coming local governments and later in 2023 general elections. Wake up to prove ‘Karachi The Place To Be’