A city once known as the ‘city of lights’ has now been without electricity for almost three days and counting.
Karachi resembles a dump now with dilapidated roads, virtually no sewerage system, no government public transport, buildings on top of each other without following any safety laws, no emergency response system, nothing. Recent visuals on our television screens, social media and WhatsApp following the monsoon rains in Karachi are horrendous. Cars floating around, houses drowning in sewerage water and rainwater, people being electrocuted, no electricity, no food, no relief in sight. A wheelchair-bound woman drowned in her house due to the mismanagement of those in power, someone who had a heart attack could not reach the hospital in time due to flooding…each story is worse than the other. More than 80 people have so far lost their lives.
The ‘resilience’ of the people of Karachi has been taken for granted but Karachi has had enough!
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has been in power in Sindh for the last 12 years. In those 12 years, we have not seen the provincial government take any responsibility whatsoever for the woes of the provincial capital. Blaming the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) because it ruled Karachi for almost a decade before the PPP government came to power can only be done so much. If the Opposition parties tell the ruling PTI to stop blaming past governments and focus on their own performance, then the same rule should apply in Sindh. The MQM may not have done as much as it should have back then but it is no excuse for a government that has been ruling the Sindh province for over a decade now.
It will also not paper over the fact that the local bodies system is so weak that no city government can be blamed for anything catastrophic. If the PPP wants to shift the blame, it should have had a fully empowered local bodies system in place. When a government does not want to devolve power and then not do anything itself, then who is to blame? Climate change may be another reality but it is not something that has come out of the blue. Where is the emergency relief system to work in times of natural disasters? If it were not for the Edhi foundation and Chhipa and other private organisations, the city of Karachi would have been an orphan city. Private citizens are helping each other out rather than the government. Where is the empathy of the rulers? Some of the tweets by provincial ministers are full of apathy towards the people of Karachi; clearing a few roads of rainwater do not make the problems of Karachi go away.
Now that a committee has been formed with all stakeholders to address the issues plaguing the largest city of Pakistan, it is hoped that regardless of their political affiliations, all stakeholders would work towards reaching a solution and not play politics at the cost of innocent lives. The people of Karachi have witnessed ethnic warfare, sectarian killings, mafias, crime and much worse. They deserve a break now. The Sindh government and all other stakeholders need to work together in order to bring some semblance of normalcy back to a city that is the heart of Pakistan.