These Karachiites have a message for Sindh chief minister

Published January 5, 2016
The campaign intends to attract Sindh CM's attention towards the most pressing issues of Karachiites.—Photo courtesy: Facebook
The campaign intends to attract Sindh CM's attention towards the most pressing issues of Karachiites.—Photo courtesy: Facebook
In one of the graffiti, the Sindh CM has been referred to as "sleeping beauty".—Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan
In one of the graffiti, the Sindh CM has been referred to as "sleeping beauty".—Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan
The campaign became quickly popular, says the project leader.—Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan
The campaign became quickly popular, says the project leader.—Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan
The campaign also draws attention towards street children. —Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan
The campaign also draws attention towards street children. —Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan

KARACHI: A group of activists here have opted for a rather unorthodox way of drawing the attention of authorities towards civil issues that hinder the everyday life of Karachiites.

As part of the Fix it campaign, Karachi citizens have spray-painted the portrait of Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah on major roads of the metropolis, which invoke the ire of thousands everyday due to their derelict condition.

With the chief minister's face drawn next to gaping potholes, ditches and heaps of piles on the side of Karachi's much-travelled University Road, the aim is to attract the authorities attention towards the issues that affect the common man in the city, says Alamgir Khan, who leads the campaign.

"The project is a well-organised, well-managed campaign that is being run by teams comprising normal citizens," he says. "[However,] this is only the beginning."

The team uses stencils of Sindh CM's portrait to spray paint his face on roads. —Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan
The team uses stencils of Sindh CM's portrait to spray paint his face on roads. —Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan

Mocking the chief minister through graffiti next to a pothole reading "Fix it! Sleeping beauty", the campaign intends to beckon the Sindh frontman to the hardships faced by Karachiites "on the other side of the bridge", Alamgir says, with a reference to people living in areas others than the Defence Housing Authority or Clifton.

Alamgir says the campaign is aimed at Sindh leaders "who have no idea" about problems faced by residents of Karachi as the politicians themselves reside in "elite areas where community problems are rare".

"I want to ask the Sindh chief minister: where have the Rs700 billion worth of funds pledged for Karachi gone?" he questions.

The campaign will focus on all issues that impact Karachiites. —Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan
The campaign will focus on all issues that impact Karachiites. —Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan

The campaign is not focused only on roads and garbage, however.

"This campaign will focus on everything that is a predicament for an average Karachiite ... be it transport issues, street crime, police bribes or legal hurdles," says Alamgir.

Editorial: Karachi mass transit

Alamgir, who holds a senior position in the opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), insists that the campaign is purely apolitical. No flags or slogans linked to PTI have been used or displayed in the campaign so far, he says.

The campaign is in no way a method of political point scoring, the PTI leader claims, adding that he invites "people belonging to any political party to join the cause."

In yet another jibe at the Sindh CM, the text next to his portrait reads "Eat as poor children do!", with arrows pointing to a pile of garbage, in a reference to Karachi's street children who are seen picking food from the waste.

The graffiti points towards piles of garbage on a Karachi road.  —Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan
The graffiti points towards piles of garbage on a Karachi road. —Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan
The campaign also draws attention towards street children. —Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan
The campaign also draws attention towards street children. —Photo courtesy: Alamgir Khan

When asked what representatives of his party, the PTI, have done to better people's lives in the four Karachi constituencies where they have been elected, Alamgir says if anyone from those constituencies comes up to him with complaints, he will "join them in the protest against the PTI leadership of the area." He has not received any such complaints so far, Alamgir said.

Alamgir says he does not consider drawing someone's face on the road, or near piles of garbage unethical as "this is an innovative way of drawing the chief minister's attention, and is not being done out of disrespect to the chief minister."

"I am personally against the idea of wall chalking," he maintains.

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