Bol TV’s Chief Reporter for Islamabad Ghulam Murtaza who spent lots of time in Karachi when asked to comment on: 1. Why Karachi is not one of the safest cities to live. 2. Why Karachi is not one of the most livable cities, he WhatsApped video clip of a flute player (Watch below).
DESPARDES — In December 2018, the National Action Plan’s Sindh provincial Apex Committee decided to launch Safe City Project (KSCP) within a specified area on pilot basis and then expand it. The 23rd meet for revitalizing the city of lights (Paris of the East) discussed street crimes, socio-development and making peace sustainable, otherwise, they used to discuss terrorism, mafias and gangsters. CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah then announced that KSCP has been reactivated.
Shah’s buoyant say was driven by official data indicating that city crimes have decreased over the years, however, Opposition Leader and PTI stalwart Firdous Naqvi has his own take on the issue: “…the crime figures are generally under-reported, so this even makes it a bit more worse, the situation.”
Nonetheless, the overall feel-factor, the jetsam and flotsam in concrete-strewn and garbage-laden neighborhoods of economic powerhouse of the country persist. Add to it, the salt and pepper of ongoing political turf battles and you get a toxic mix.
Naqvi says “people are being killed by untrained police which creates even a bigger issue, that using of guns which are not to be used around in urban areas. The training is very poor, the appointments are political…you have to bribe right up to the rank of minister himself directly which is obvious that the superiors get a cut and the minister gets a cut. Wherever there is this kind of corruption, it’s incurable.”
Badar Naqvi, a dual national professional working in the private automobile sector said overcrowding (in one word) was the main reason why Karachi is not one of the safest and one of the livable cities yet– a view Mr. Nisar Memon shared with participants of his talk on Karachi this week.
Several Karachiites say disorganized transport system, rising pollution and lack of safe drinking water are added unlivable plus of the city’s matrix.
Yet, like any other mega city, the country’s largest metropolis provides food, clothing, shelter, and jobs to millions, while thousands others move in every year and the pot of gold never empties (one observer said)– a perpetual machine model rest of the country could embrace– sans its Achilles Heels, she added.
Sense of belonging and owning the city’s assets and liabilities holistically are two major ones.
Mr. Memon, a former senator and federal minister while talking on ‘Does Karachi belong to anyone?’ seminar added, “If you want to bring back the glory of Karachi then you need to delve into the meaning of ‘belong’ and look more deeply into how you belong to Karachi.’
Nisar’s thought-provoking one-liner and that of a highly respected academician in the city who heads one of the most prestigious engineering universities in the country are somewhat similar in grain: “Nobody owns it but everybody wants to milk it.”
The academician telegraphed his point of view with: “Karachi is a voluntary prostitute sorry to say.”
Last year, a senior defense and geopolitical analyst said, “Only a Spiderman” can deliver the city. Since then things have markedly improved though on terror/peace/corruption, etc. etc. So the Spiderman apparently did his job in country’s Gotham City. Still, there remains many a sip between the cup and the lip.
More after this break: Master Card’s famous 2001 commercial localized: a cigarette to start the day for Rs10; Tea and Samosa before work Rs55; A liter of petrol for motorbike Rs75; Food at Xandex with friends: Rs2000; Saying ‘I’m Karachi’ and owning the thought: priceless. For everything else there’s probably the Master Card.”
The analyst this time (post-Spiderman) was more descriptive of the issues inhibiting the mega city’s comeback. According to him, several reasons are holding it back. Some of them he said are:
1. Political turf wars. Karachi lies in Sindh, and Sindh is governed by a provincial government whose vote base is out of Karachi.
2. Dysfunctional local government. Resources dished out through fiscal award are claimed by provinces and not passed on to the local governments.
3. Karachi became a crime hub, due to: A. Terrorists orgs. using it as financial base to raise funds. This was aided by lack of investment in law enforcement. B. Ruling political class (specially PPP) was equal partners in plunder. C. Uncontrolled urbanization, lack of civic planning and theft of real estate by those in power. D. The above chaos was exploited by foreign hostile intelligence agencies.
There is (also) basic political disconnect, federal government’s vote base ( PML, PTI) is out of Sindh, provincial government base vote is out of Karachi, (and) the local government with vote base in Karachi is helpless and resource starved.
“This can only end if we have a functional and resourceful local government, able to raise it own resources,” the analyst added.
Dr. Syed Mohammad Ali of NDU says global and regional geopolitics are also adding spice to the mayhem in the city, alluding to a hybrid warfare by Pakistan’s rivals in the region.
Mr. Memon localized the mega city’s problems and said only 40 per cent of it was managed by the city government, with other entities controlling the rest.
Wwen asked to comment on: 1. Why Karachi is not one of the safest cities to live. 2. Why Karachi is not one of the most livable cities, Bol TV’s Chief Reporter for Islamabad Ghulam Murtaza who spent lots of time in Karachi was philosophical in his take. He WhatsApped video clip of a flute player to say what he wanted to say:
Owning (re-owning) the city from grassroots level is the way to go though, said several city society activists. As, “problems and issues are mostly germinating on micro level first– within the neighborhood spaces– and then expanding into as big as the size of Karachi Zoo.”
Naqvi weighed in though on the matter as a city issue that the government should deliver. “Karachi is not a livable city at all. People do not have full access to water, there are parts of city in which you receive water once in thirty days. Where 35 to 40% of the population is not served by the tap water connection. The city has only one Sewerage Plant working which can process only 70 million gallons wastewater per day, while the sewerage which is generated in the city is around 450 million gallons per day. The rest we are putting directly into the sea and polluting it. The shoreline of Karachi is a witness to that. The city does not have garbage collection system” either.
“Fine, these things money can buy or loans and grants (Master Card) can do on city level. Still owning the city begins at each doorstep and in the front yard of every home”, several Karachiites said and pointed out to the “golden 70s” of the financial hub and the country’s socio-cultural melting pot.
With input from Khurram Shahzad