Prime Minister Imran Khan in his maiden official visit to Karachi on Sunday expressed concern over the reported surge in street crime in the metropolis, and called for coordinated efforts to purge the city of criminal activities, which he linked with the city's "growing underclass".
The PM, who is on a one-day visit to the city, reviewed the progress of federal government-funded projects in the city, chaired high-level meetings on law and order, and also attended a fundraiser.
Sindh Chief Secretary Azam Suleman Khan gave the PM a detailed briefing on the law and order situation in the province in general and Karachi in particular, which followed a presentation by the Director General (DG) Rangers Maj Gen Muhammad Saeed on the Karachi operation.
During the meeting ─ which was attended by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Karachi Corps Commander Lt Gen Humayun Aziz, DG Rangers, chief secretary and Sindh Inspector General Police Kaleem Imam, as well as other concerned civil officials ─ the PM took strong exception to the cases of abduction of children in the city. He sought coordinated action against abductors, the urgent recovery of children and the provision of relief to parents.
The prime minister appreciated measures being taken for cleanliness in the metropolis. He directed that the efforts be expedited in order to provide relief to the people.
PM Khan was also briefed on Karachi's water crisis in a meeting where Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and city commissioner Saleh Farooqi were also among the attendees.
In the meeting, the PM was informed of the K-4 water supply project's progress, and also told that Karachi's daily water need now stands at 918 million gallons.
Later in the day, the premier headlined a fundraiser dinner for the Diamer Bhasha Dam at Governor House, where he delivered a speech and defended the dam-building drive.
"In 1947, Pakistan had per-capita water of 5,600 cubic metres but today only 1,000 cubic metres are left," he said. "If we continue like this then by 2025 there will be a massive shortage of water. It will affect our food security and our agricultural production will go down.
"Those who say that dams should not be built, I would like to quote them some statistics. China, the country that is progressing at the fastest pace in the world, has 84,000 dams, including 5,000 big dams. India, too, has 5,000 dams and they are still building more. And we only have two major dams."
The PM said that the country is heavily in debt, adding that new "dams cannot be financed through budget either", which is why "we have decided to do fundraising".
"I am the biggest fundraiser of Pakistan's history," he said. "I have been raising funds for 30 years. The target that we have to reach every year is Rs30 billion. God willing, we will raise more than that because I can see that Pakistanis have been mobilised, both in and out of the country."
The PM said that in addition to the Diamer Bhasha dam, the government is also about to start work on Mohmand Dam which, he said, is "very feasible".
"We will work on both the dams simultaneously," he said.
PM Khan linked Karachi's street crime problem with the city's "growing underclass".
"The illiterati do not get jobs and have no way to make a living," he said. "These people, who are originally from Bangladesh and Afghanistan, they do not get passports or ID cards. [As a result], they do not get jobs. This is a deprived class in Karachi that goes towards crime as it has no other option."
The prime minister vowed to recognise the neglected class as "citizens of Pakistan" and urged his audience to help him "educate and lift them up".
The PM described Karachi as a "concrete jungle" and said that he will make a master plan for the city, which he said will include reforestation drive and a desalination plant among other things.
Sindh CM expresses concerns over transfers
Meanwhile, CM Shah discussed Sindh's problems with the prime minister and expressed his reservations against the transfer of high-level officials.
"Without being informed in advance, the transfer of officials out of Sindh is not the right way," the provincial chief minister said.
CM Shah also expressed his concerns regarding the deductions in Sindh's financial resources, telling the PM: "Sindh is already facing financial problems. If the funds are stopped at the federal level, Sindh will face further losses."
The CM claimed that "a desalination plant is the sole solution to Karachi's water crisis" and urged "the federal government to help them in this regard".
Sindh governor, CM receive PM
The premier, who arrived in Karachi earlier today, was greeted at the airport by Governor Imran Ismail and CM Shah at the airport.
From there, he went straight to the Quaid's mausoleum, where he laid a floral wreath and offered fateha. He also signed the guestbook at the mausoleum.
The PM met President Arif Alvi at State Guest House along with other officials. Accompanied by the Sindh governor and chief minister, the prime minister planted a sapling on the premises of the State Guest House and also held a joint meeting with the two officials.
The PM's visit comes a day after President Arif Alvi, a former MNA from Karachi, visited the metropolis and tasked Sindh Governor Imran Ismail with monitoring federal government-funded development projects and vowed to make his hometown’s infrastructure just like other mega cities in the world.
A statement issued after the meeting quoted Alvi as saying: "The Sindh governor from now on will monitor the progress of federal government-funded development projects in Karachi and other parts of the province for their timely completion."
Governor Ismail during the meeting said that the federal government would "take into account the feedback and opinions of provincial and city governments while executing its projects".