KARACHI: The federal government has joined hands with the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) for the 'Clean Karachi' campaign that officially commenced on Sunday. At least 15,000 volunteers are expected to participate in the drive which will continue for two weeks.
The campaign, being run by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) Karachi-based leadership and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), has not fared too well with the Pakistan Peoples' Party's (PPP) Sindh government, which terms it 'interference' in provincial matters on the Centre's part. Meanwhile, the PTI and MQM-P have responded to these allegations by blaming the provincial government for the mess in Karachi.
"The amount collected in taxes from Karachi is being transferred to Dubai [by PPP leadership]," alleged Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, the federal minister for Maritime Affairs. "We want to show the provincial government how it [cleanliness] is possible if there is a resolve.
On Sunday, Zaidi, accompanied by PTI representatives elected from Karachi and MQM-P's Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar as well as other MQM-P leaders, inaugurated the 'Clean Karachi' initiative at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) office.
The Frontier Works Organization (FWO) will provide the machinery and other technical help. The drive itself has been divided into two phases. In the first phase, stormwater drains [nullahs] chocked with the dirt and garbage would be cleaned and in the second phase, garbage from the streets and roads will be lifted.
PTI workers have put up banners and billboards at different spots of the city with the slogan of 'Lets Clean Karachi'. The party has also set up camps across the city and is recruiting volunteers to join the campaign through its online portal.
Addressing a press conference at the launching ceremony on Sunday afternoon, Zaidi lamented that no one had ever thought about drafting a plan for Karachi. "People ask us what will happen when we finish the drive," said Zaidi. He reasoned that neither the campaign nor a clean Karachi was possible without the support of the Karachi mayor, MQM-P and the leadership of the local government.
Sharing details of the plan with the media, Zaidi said that volunteers will assist local bodies and members of parliament in realising the goal of a clean Karachi.
Justifying his appeal to the federal government after which the PTI leadership sprang into action, Akhtar said that the provincial government was not willing to cooperate with him. "I had no other option," he said. "With [limited] powers and resources, I cannot solve the problems of Karachi. We have to work now instead of doing politics on the issue."
He said that the PPP's provincial government had ruined the city over the last 10 years and no one questioned them. "The local bodies, which are considered basic democratic institutions, have never been given powers [in Sindh]," the mayor maintained.
Akhtar said that he was grateful to the federal government and Zaidi for paying attention to Karachi's basic issues.
"The mayor is incompetent," said Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on Information and Archives, Law and Anti-Corruption Barrister Murtaza Wahab in a statement on Sunday, in reaction to the Zaidi and Akhtar's remarks.
Wahab said that those who destroyed the provincial capital in the past have started blaming others. Blaming the Sindh government for Karachi's mess is nothing but a funny story, he added.
"The mayor should tell [the people of Karachi] who creates obstacles in performing his responsibilities," said Wahab. He said that people shouldn't blame others for their own incompetence.
Wahab said that the people of Karachi would only heave a sigh of relief if every institution and person fulfilled their obligations. He added that it was quite depressing to see that those who claimed to own the city were behind its destruction.
The provincial adviser said that the 'Clean Karachi' drive was nothing but a photo session. He said that Zaidi was not even capable of looking after the affairs of his ministry.
Interestingly, Zaidi said that there a total of 38 nullahs in the city while Wahab said that there were 556 small and large drains in Karachi.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2019.
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