‘Orphan City’: Govt. Looking at Options to ‘Save Karachi’

Pakistan’s Attorney General (AGP) told the country’s apex court that the federal government is deliberating on different legal and constitutional options to address Karachi.

The attorney general maintained that he is not in a position to share details about the possible steps that the federation might take.

“Karachi has become an orphan city at the moment. Pakistan will be destroyed if Karachi is ruined,” the government’s top legal officer Khalid Javed Khan told the Supreme Court which met in Karachi on Wednesday.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed, a three-member bench is hearing the petition on illegal encroachments on drains in the country’s largest city, it’s economic powerhouse straddling the Arabian Sea shoreline.

“The entire Karachi has become a goth and the city is filled with gutter water. Mosquitoes and flies are everywhere. Nothing has been done from Karachi to Kashmore and the rule of law is nowhere to be seen. The provincial government is enjoying watching people in such a state,” Justice Gulzar remarked.

While expressing displeasure over the performance of Sindh provincial government, the chief justice said it has ruined the city in the last 10 years and did nothing for the better of people.

“What is the responsibly of the Sindh government if everything has to be done by Supreme Court?” the CJP remarked. “SC should run Karachi Circular Railway, we should build road, remove billboards and garbage from the city. If SC has to do everything then what’s left for the government”, the chief justice questioned.

Last week, the country’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) cleaned the city’s three main storm nullahs utilizing the services of the military’s Frontier Works Organization (FWO).

Around 31,000 tons of garbage were also pulled out from the three major sewerage drains of the port city.

The emergency cleanup work was done in five days.

Still, there are 38 big and 514 small drains in the metropolis which need cleanup.

CJP Gulzar asked the Attorney General why NDMA hasn’t completed cleaning work of other Karachi drains.

“This was the responsibility of Sindh government to clean Karachi’s nullahs, but the center intervened after the provincial government failed to clean Karachi drains,” the chief justice remarked.

The apex court directed NDMA to clean all Karachi nullahs and remove encroachments around them in three months.

‘Karachi should be given to Pakistan Army for five years for improvements’

The city’s top industrialist has suggested Karachi should be handed over to the Army for at least five years for infrastructural improvements.

“Only under the supervision of the Pakistan Army is it possible to resolve Karachi’s infrastructure and other problems,” Siraj Qasim Teli, a business magnate said.

In his opinion, the work on Karachi’s cleanliness can be maintained on a permanent basis only under the Army’s supervision. He warned that “the catastrophic situation in Karachi will affect the country’s economy” if it was not handed over to the military.

But most independent observers disagree. “A city so large as Karachi (more than 20m population) can’t operate on temporary fixes”, says an analyst.

It needs a permanent solution, a top political leader and Senator tells DesPardes. A PTI stalwart agrees. “The question is what and how”, asks a Karachi observer.

Teli is the chairman of the Businessmen Group (BMG) and former president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).