Seeking a ‘Karachi Package’

Despite being Pakistan’s economic hub, Karachi is grappling with infrastructural challenges

Our Correspondent May 24, 2024


The agreement between MQM-Pakistan and PPP to work together in seeking a “Karachi Package” from the federal government is a commendable example of how rival parties should put politics aside to work in the interest of their constituents. Karachi desperately needs infrastructure investment. Despite being Pakistan’s economic hub, it has long been grappling with infrastructural challenges, including inadequate public transport, water and sanitation issues, and traffic congestion. Meanwhile, the local and provincial governments also have serious payroll and pension issues to address. Financial support from Islamabad for the infrastructure issues would free up local funding for payroll and pensions.

The PPP already controls the Sindh government, which makes Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab’s work significantly easier, but despite also being allies with the PML-N government in Islamabad, the federal government’s precarious financial situation means that pushing for extra funding will require all hands on deck. Incidentally, MQM-P also sits on the government benches and is the fourth-largest party in the parliament. With the PPP still not officially a full part of the ruling coalition, the MQM-P is technically the second biggest coalition member and should, in theory at least, be able to sway the PML-N in some ways, especially since the PPP is unlikely to threaten to use its trump card — walking away and causing the government to lose a confidence vote.

Speeches from MQM-P leaders after a recent meeting with PPP leaders suggest that the party would play the role of a ‘friendly opposition’ to focus on getting things done. While critics may cry foul, given the PPP’s outright majority in the Sindh Assembly, this makes sense — the PPP can pass whatever legislation it wants, so the only way for the MQM-P to be relevant and visible until the next election cycle is to work with the PPP so it can claim partial credit for some legislation, while also drawing attention to areas that need them.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2024.

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