KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the successful conclusion of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) had revived the old Karachi that knew peace and prosperity. Now the old Pakistan needs to be restored where nobody could dare talk about oppressing people just to listen to their screams of pain.
He expressed these views at a press conference at the Committee Room of the Old Assembly Building on Monday. Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani and CM's Adviser on Information Murtaza Wahab accompanied him.
In the old Pakistan, he said, ministers used to talk about people and their problems but surprisingly in 'New Pakistan', all these ethics have vanished and now the federal ministers use unethical language.
Murad lauds well-coordinated arrangements made for PSL
"Yes! Under your rule [Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf's (PTI) rule] there is public outcry against unprecedented price hike, people are crying against unemployment and people are screaming against NAB [National Accountability Bureau]," Shah said. He added that the provincial government was facing a shortfall of Rs120 billion in federal transfers and people of Sindh were screaming because the work on their development schemes has come to a standstill for want of funds. "Therefore, the people of this country need Old Pakistan," he said.
The CM said that in New Pakistan, the speaker of Sindh Assembly was arrested from Islamabad after which his family was made hostage for eight hours at their homes in Karachi. "When you had no evidence against the speaker, why did you arrest him?" he asked. He said that anti-corruption was a provincial subject but the federal government had grabbed these powers through NAB. "It is unfortunate that the PPP [Pakistan Peoples Party] and PML-N [Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz] governments in the Centre failed to undo the NAB law during their tenure".
Shah said that the PSL was the biggest event in the history of Karachi. Eight matches of international level, including the final, were played here because Karachi was now a peaceful city. "The peace has not returned with mere lip services but it has been restored after a lot of sacrifices by the personnel of law enforcement agencies and people of Karachi".
He said that of the 50 Muslims killed in the recent mosque shooting in New Zealand, nine were Pakistanis of whom three were Karachiites. "Today, I went to their homes and offered condolences".
Commenting on the need to fight terrorism, Shah reiterated the stance of his party leadership, particularly of PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. "He [Bilawal] is absolutely right in his view that we must identify people who are hand in glove with terrorists and dissociate ourselves from them". He added that Pakistan was the biggest victim of terrorism due to which we have lost 70,000 innocent lives. Therefore, the National Action Plan (NAP) must be implemented in letter and spirit, he said.
The CM said that there was zero tolerance for terrorists as far as the Sindh government was concerned. Recently, there was an increase in target killing incidents in the city because MQM-London had stepped up its terrorist activities in Karachi, but the police and Rangers had found those responsible, said Shah.
Replying to a question, the CM said that his government had started work on K-IV project in 2016 and awarded the contract to Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) by relaxing Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules so that the project could be completed in time. "But the federal government is not cooperating and sharing the financial burden," he said, adding that a federal minister had even said there was no need of the project.
Shah said that in his first meeting with the prime minister he had taken up the K-IV project and had requested him to release the required funds. Nothing has been done so far, he said, adding that the cost of the project had increased manifold because of faults in the design. "We have offered the federal government to conduct a third party audit and asked that they at least contribute their 50% share so that the project could be completed and people of Karachi can be provided water," said Shah.
Responding to another question, Shah said that the solution of urban transport problem lay in Karachi Circular Railways (KCR). "We got it approved in the CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor], but the federal government showed lukewarm attitude in 2016 after which it did approved". But, he added, the present government has almost abandoned KCR.
Shah said that his government was working on the Yellow Line, Orange Line and Red Line projects and in the next fiscal year there would be commendable progress in these projects.
Discussing the water woes of Sindh, the CM said that short releases of water downstream to Kotri had destroyed the delta and around 80,000 acres of land was being affected by sea intrusion. "We are not only faced with short releases of funds from divisible pool but also water shortage which is destroying the agro economy and playing havoc with lands downstream," he said.
Ghansham murder case
Responding to a question regarding the murder of Ghansham Bheel, the chief minister said that initially it seemed to be a case of personal enmity, however, the government was ensuring that the victim's family was given justice. They requested for a change of the investigation team, the government changed it. "We will not allow anybody, anywhere in Sindh to take the law into their own hands," he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2019.