KARACHI: At a time when no one is willing to own responsibility of the Sea View tragedy, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) offers a solution: local government elections.
MQM Rabita Committee members Dr Farooq Sattar, Waseem Akhtar, Khawaja Izharul Hassan, Gulfaraz Khan Khattak and Kunwar Naveed addressed a press conference at the party head office, Nine Zero, on Sunday. According to Sattar, the absence of an independent local bodies system is the reason that 38 innocent lives have been lost. He cited the same reason why residents were compelled to buy water tankers worth Rs10,000 during the first two days of Eid.
He further added that the Sea View incident that claimed around 38 lives, the unprecedented potable water shortage and the ill-management of the civic administration during monsoon rains proved that no civic agencies wanted to take the responsibility of taking care of Karachi. "The DHA, Cantonment Board Clifton, Coast Guards and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation are all blaming each other for the untoward Sea View incident," he said. "Had there been an independent mayor of Karachi or an elected union council, there would have been no reason that the citizens would have to face such atrocities."
The MQM has decided to hold rallies, protests and sit-ins to raise awareness of the need of electing a local government to take care of the civic responsibilities. "In order to avoid political chaos in the country, local bodies election is need of hour," said Sattar.
Plan of action
Even though the MQM members did not give an exact time-frame for their campaign, Sattar announced that the issue will first be raised in the Sindh Assembly. He added that this will be preceded by a consultation meeting of the elected members of the MQM. "We will announce the dates for the rallies on August 14," said Sattar.
He also stressed that the demand for the local bodies election will be raised while remaining a part of the Sindh government. "People from all segments will join hands with the MQM," he said. "People from all classes, irrespective of political affiliation, will join our rallies to ensure the immediate announcement of local bodies election."
Speaking of the prevalent water crisis in the city, the former Karachi mayor predicted that with the ethnically varied population of the city, future communal riots could be over water. "Karachi has been divided into different ethnic communities and if the government does not take the appropriate steps for local bodies election, riots could ensue among different communities within a year or two over water shortage" he warned.
Talking about the K-4 water supply project, Sattar said that because of the long five-year tenure of its expected completion, another small project of 65 million gallon per day could be initiated as soon as possible. He believed that this could immediately cater to the water needs of the metropolis.
After the protests for the local bodies elections, the MQM plans to organise another campaign to abolish the feudal system and demand immediate land reforms. All the rallies, protests and sit-ins are useless if the transfer of power and land reform is not ensured, he said, inviting all the parties to join their rallies in favour of the local bodies elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th,2014.
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