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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Karachi: Who converted the city of lights into a city of garbage?

No one is prepared to take responsibility for the millions of residents of Karachi as heavy downpours leave thousands homeless, businesses paralyzed

For the second time this month, heavy rains have hit Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, and the seventh-largest city in the world. The provincial government has failed to drain out water from low-lying areas of the city. As a result, accumulating rainwater has devastated urban infrastructure, business hubs, and residential areas, leaving a large number of people homeless.

According to details, the downpour has been reported in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulshan-e-Johar, Federal B Area, Defence, Punjab Colony, Delhi Colony, Hassan Square, Golimar, North Karachi, North Nazimabad and Chowrangi while University Road, Taroq Road, PECHS Society and Shaheed Millat Road have also received the monsoon shower.

Amid the current spell, several roads in Surjani Town, Yousaf Goth, Abdul Raheem Goth and Dada Bhai Town are still submerged in the water. On the other hand, long queues of vehicles can be seen in Jam Sadiq and Qayyumabad due to the closure of Korangi Crossing and Causeway, whereas the flow of traffic has also been affected on MA Jinnah Road, Tibet Center and Shahrah-e-Faisal.

Who is responsible?

Karachi, known as the city of lights, has turned into a city of garbage overnight. Horrific images of tonnes of trash floating around on busy thoroughfares have been widely shared on social media. In this highly emotional time for the residents of the city, political point-scoring on social media has irked many across the metropolis.

Expert opinion on the state of Karachi has generally been highly polarized due to the political affiliations of a few select commentators and journalists who dominate social media. The predominant public opinion holds the provincial government responsible for the present condition of the city.



During the general elections back in 2018, Karachi’s populace had to choose among Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), the newly formed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Imran Khan’s PTI.

The people of Karachi dethroned the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan – the undisputed overlords of Karachi for the past decade and a half, and elected the PTI to power. PTI’s candidates returned on 14 of the 21 National Assembly seats in the city. PTI came to power in the Centre as well. Some analysts blame the incumbent federal government for failing Karachi.

After the 18th amendment, argue analysts, the provinces took charge of the local issues and pledged to address them accordingly. However, the Sindh government has apparently failed to devise any mechanism to deal with the crisis it faces every year during the monsoon season in Pakistan. Apart from rains, the garbage issue in the country’s largest city has always been a big challenge. But it remains largely unaddressed.

Read More: Imran Khan orders NDMA to fix rain ravaged Karachi

The failed coalition

A coalition of three parties, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), was reportedly formed earlier this year to coordinate the development and well-being of Karachi.

Sindh Information and Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah welcomed the coalition. The minister, in a statement, said the three parties had resolved to work together. However, there was no follow up in this regard.

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs on Thursday shared a video of the inundated Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Phase 6 in Karachi after torrential rain hit the area. The minister posted a video showing the flooded condition of the low lying areas following the downpour.


PPP failed Karachi, says CJP

A few days ago, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, while hearing a case pertaining to encroachments in the city, expressed anger at the dismal situation of cleanliness in Karachi, stating that the Sindh government had completely failed in the province.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmad, while hearing the case, told the advocate-general in Sindh that the provincial government had “turned entire Karachi into a goth”.

“The entire city is filled with filth and sewerage water,” said the chief justice angrily. “Mosquitoes, flies, and germs are everywhere. People are walking on stones [to cross sewerage water],” he added. “How many years has it been since you have been in power?” asked the top judge.

“This is our commitment towards you,” responded the provincial government’s lawyer.  “Your commitment should be with the people. But what have you done with them?” retorted Justice Gulzar. “The situation is bad from Karachi to Kashmore. Wherever one goes, the situation is the same,” he added.

Read More: Army called in Karachi: Where is the Sindh government?