KARACHI: To make the most of the last day of campaigning before the by-election in PS-114, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) took over a main road to arrange a jalsa to be addressed by the party chairperson, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
The main road heading towards Mehmoodabad from Kala Pul, which was recently constructed after years of being a bumpy and broken path, was occupied and blocked to arrange the meeting.
Day before its inauguration, Karachi's University Road ‘defaced’ by Jamaat-e-Islami
Not taking into consideration that the road was newly-made, PPP jiyalas took it over in order to make adequate arrangements to welcome their chairperson. They defaced the road by nailing tent pegs into it for the set-up of the stage.
Similarly, last month, a day before its inauguration, the newly-constructed University Road was 'defaced' when Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) set-up an iftar camp for their 'Awami Iftar'.
The PPP workers not only defaced the road, but the two-way road was also blocked at both its entry and exit points by placing containers.
"It is so foolish that we, the people, get these new roads after years and years of travelling on broken roads and they [PPP workers] spoil it for no good reason," complained Shaheen Irshad, who uses the route daily and faced difficulty reaching her house in Mehmoodabad.
PS-114 by-poll: Contest between people and ruling elite, says Qureshi
"This road was constructed hardly six months ago after a wait of several years and now, they [PPP workers] are making the road worse again for people's travel," Sufiyan Ahmed lamented.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Khurrum Sher Zaman criticised the PPP leadership for violating laws for their own benefit. "Since the election campaign has started, the PPP government is carpeting almost every road and street in PS-114 and no one is asking them from where they are getting the funds for it," Zaman said.
He also pointed out that there is no record of the work; no paperwork has been done, no PC-1 was made and no tenders passed. "Nothing has been done, but the carpeting of roads is being done just to garner votes and make a fool out of people," he said.
A guide to the PS-114 Karachi showdown
"Roads should not be defaced in any way and the PPP is taking advantage of being the ruling party," JI candidate for PS-114, Zahoor Ahmed Jadoon, told The Express Tribune. "They have been in power for the last nine years and have not done anything for the constituency, but now, suddenly, for the last two months, they are using government resources to win the PS-114 seat," he said.
JI has also campaigned in the area and has been conducting rallies, but we never completely blocked the road, he claimed. One side was always left open for people to pass by, he said. "Our own workers were controlling traffic and matters on ground," Jadoon explained.
"Why is the election commission not taking notice of all this mismanagement," he questioned, adding that he had raised these issues in the meeting on security with the Rangers director-general.
Meanwhile, DMC East Chairperson Moeed Anwar told The Express Tribune that no one is allowed to do things such as nailing tent pegs or setting up a stage on roads.
PS-114 by-polls: 1,500 cops, 500 Rangers to provide security
"Proper permission is needed before doing anything [on a road], but even then one is not allowed to deface the roads, especially as this road was constructed after years of struggle. Such acts are discouraged by the law," he said, adding that the DMC can take action against the PPP but usually in Karachi no one takes action and instead, issues the party a challan of the amount needed to mend the broken road.
"We have all the permissions from the deputy comissioners' offices to hold these rallies and gatherings while other parties are scheming against us," shared the PPP candidate for the constituency, Senator Saeed Ghani. Most of the time, other political parties do not have permission to hold their gatherings, he said.
He also said that anyone who is saying that the party is making roads 'out of the blue' should prove it, as all the schemes were present in the Annual Development Budget and District Budget of 2016-17.
PML-F to support PTI's candidate in PS-114 by-election
"If any damage has been done to the road due to the rallies, it will be repaired by the party. The road was made by the PPP some time ago," Ghani clarified, failing to share the amount of the budget spent on the road back then.