Call for empowered, constitutional local govt to improve Karachi

Our Correspondent
Sunday, Oct 10, 2021

Speakers at a conference organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami on Saturday said that an empowered and constitutional local government is mandatory to improve the situation of Karachi, particularly in view of the gravity of the city’s problems.

The JI hosted the ‘Rebuild Karachi Conference’, inviting experts from all walks of life to create a consensus on the need of an empowered local government in Karachi to reconstruct the city.

Experts from the planning, construction, business, environment, education, health, corruption watchdog, arts and other sectors expressed their views in the day-long conference held at a local hotel. In his keynote address, JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman demanded that the government hold LG elections immediately.

Slamming the provincial government’s viewpoint in favour of delaying the LG polls, Rehman raised the point that the elections can be held on the basis of the flawed census results, as already agreed in the matter of the national and provincial assemblies’ polls.

He said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party have agreed against holding LG elections in Punjab and Sindh. “Unfortunately, the political arena in Karachi is taken as a contest to accumulate resources, power and to conquer the city. No political party is ready to own the city.” He also said that the ruling government in the Centre recently tried to fool the public in the city by inaugurating the Karachi Circular Railway once again. “The city of 30 million individuals needs a proper mass transit system, and not the peanuts of 100 buses.”

He invited people from all walks of life to join the JI’s Karachi Rights Movement. He said that Karachi is the economic hub of the city by all means. In such a gloomy situation, the city accounts for 41 per cent of the income tax collected, he added.

Talking about discrimination against Karachi, he said that the mass transit project in Lahore was completed in 11 months, in Rawalpindi its time for completion was eight months, the project in Peshawar was also completed, but the same project in Karachi has been awaiting completion for over six years. The JI leader also highlighted the issue of the builder mafia in the city that deprives people of their life savings under the patronage of influential people and political parties.

He said that successive federal and provincial governments have been unable to provide even potable water to the city’s residents, adding that the K-IV water supply project proposed in the late Naimatullah Khan’s time is still pending. He also said that the PTI’s zero interest in Karachi is aggravating an already worsening situation.

Planning expert Arif Hasan said that an empowered LG government is mandatory for resolving the issues being faced by the city. He said that he supports the JI’s campaign for restoring the city despite all the differences.

Adil Gillani of the Transparency International highlighted the various sectors where the city could not progress because of corruption.

Journalist and columnist Shahnawaz Farooqui shed light on the various aspects of the prevailing trends of journalism and their impacts.

Dr Iqbal Afridi, a known psychiatrist, discussed the impact of civic issues on the death rate in the city. He also talked about the state of affairs in the health sector.

TV personality and writer Anwar Maqsood, former Karachi administrator Fahim Zaman, former information minister Javed Jabbar, Arts Council Karachi President Ahmed Shah, researcher Aasim Bashir, sports journalist Yahya Hussaini, businessman and physiotherapist Bashir Jan Muhammad, tech expert Ammara Masood and physician Dr Buland Iqbal were prominent among other speakers.