Cleaning up urban Pakistan after the sacrifice of millions of animals in celebration of Eidul Azha is a mammoth task carried out with a marked lack of uniformity across the country. Considering this is an annual event of considerable antiquity, it may be reasonable to expect that clearing the offal and other animal remains from public spaces would be a well-oiled operation. It is not, at least not in the largest of urban conurbations, i.e., Karachi. With a range of agencies and entities sharing responsibility for the clean-up, there is a recipe for maladministration and inefficiency all along the line, with a result that offends the eyes and noses of all and sundry — to say nothing of the escalating hazard to public health the longer the remains go uncollected.
With Karachi at the bottom of the pile literally and metaphorically, some of the cities of Punjab are notable for keeping a clean face, with Bahawalpur perhaps to the forefront in the post-Eid cleanliness race and others not far behind. Karachi, however, has its face washed by a mendacious collection of administrative units that are quickly engaged in a blame and finger-pointing competition. A chronic inability to coordinate anything beyond their own desktops, and even that is doubtful in some instances, leaves the District Municipal Corporation throwing in the towel by the evening of the first day of Eid. No collection vehicles were observed entering the Gulistan-e-Jauhar area on day one, for instance. The Karachi Administrator has called for the suspension of the Central Municipal Commissioner, citing their poor performance; they in their turn claim that they had not been provided with vehicles in a timely manner — and so it goes on ad nauseum. The mess will of course eventually get cleared up as it always does — until the next time. If some urban areas can be spick and span within 24 hours, then why not others? Quite possibly because some city administrations are unable to find their own posteriors without both hands and a map. There is a need for change in this malodorous state of affairs — and especially so in Karachi.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2015.
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