Talk of the foreboding, ‘Commisionerate System’ has engulfed Karachi since the government decided to take matters into its own hands. Most people are just glad to still be alive after the four days of relentless attacks. Little do they know it, the three ordinances revealed by the acting governor, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro on Saturday, will change the city as they have known it for over a decade.
The proposed ordinances, that are to be enforced immediately, include the revival of the Commissionerate system and the local government system of 1979.
The system includes reverting Karachi back to five districts - east, west, south, north, and central - and abolishing the 18 towns. Each district will have a deputy commissioner appointed to it. Meanwhile, from a political point of view, the system allows the chief minister direct control over each district deputy commissioner, who, in turn, will be in contact with the areas’ police incharge effectively cutting out the many middlemen that the current system includes.
The city slowly crept back to normalcy on Saturday, as the exponential rise in the body count over the last four days dipped. Unlike the panic witnessed a day before, public transport returned to the roads, shops and petrol pumps reopened. People even dared to step out and have a good time at restaurants and parks for a much needed break from the spate of violence.
Raza, who uses the public transport to commute, said that although he was glad that things were going back to normal, he is deadly scared each time he hops onto a bus. “Even the bus drivers fear for their lives. “I was travelling on W-11 bus recently and instead of the usual Bollywood songs, he was playing cassettes of naats and recitations from the Holy Quran.”
Supporters of new system claim that it is meant to ensure the safety of men like Raza and his bus driver, while the opposition, MQM, just sees it as another rouse for the ruling coalition to take control of the city.
For city employees, the political jargon is just another thing to add to their sack of worries. Karachi DCO Muhammad Hussein Syed told The Express Tribune that he was not aware of what was going to happen but chose to remain optimistic.
“I would expect that whatever system they decide to use is public-friendly,” he said. “The local governments will be rolled back as a consequence of the ordinance. However, there is always a transitory period to reach the conclusion.”
He explained that the ordinance alone cannot end local governments, and that the authorities would have to send notifications for it.
Water board and City District Government Karachi officials, who preferred to remain anonymous, were not as pleased as the DCO. “If system is implemented then the role of local governments will be reduced to municipal duties,” they said.
As those closest to the change, the city officials and employees are under a great deal of stress as they feared they would be transferred to other departments.
“Good or bad, the local government system has empowered the people at the smallest level,” said one such official.
They worry that, with the new system, their concerns will be overlooked in favour of greater issues. “It was easy to resolve a civic problem with the help of elected representatives. But in the new system, people will be at the bureaucracy’s mercy.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ