THE debate on where the centre’s supervision of matters of national importance ends and where the provinces’ jurisdiction begins is an old one.
In fact, even after the passage of the landmark 18th Amendment, which gave the provinces many powers over constitutional subjects, the controversy has refused go away as those in favour of centralisation have sought to recapture some of the lost space, while proponents of provincial autonomy have said that any attempt to roll back the amendment will be resisted.
In light of this tussle, there has been an exchange of notes between the Sindh governor and chief minister over a committee proposed for revamping Karachi.
Replying to the letter of the governor informing him of the committee’s constitution, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has said the body is tantamount to subverting the Constitution and an encroachment of provincial rights.
Two key points need to be addressed here.
Firstly, Pakistan’s commercial capital has suffered considerable wear and tear as governments — federal and provincial — have ignored Karachi and left it to fend for itself.
While law and order is better than before, the time when several people were killed on the streets on a single day can be easily recalled.
Moreover, while there have been spurts of infrastructural development (under mayors such as Niamatullah Khan and Mustafa Kamal), by and large the city has seen haphazard growth as encroachments, traffic and lack of planning have turned it into an ever-expanding conurbation with lack of direction.
Karachi needs all the help it can get to transform itself into a liveable, sustainable city.
Unfortunately, the Sindh government, which has taken over most of the powers of the local bodies, has not delivered.
The city’s overflowing gutters, piles of trash and lack of a public transport system are just a few examples of neglect.
At the same time, while the federal government should chip in to rebuild Karachi, provincial autonomy must also be respected and the Sindh government taken on board.
Having said that, the provincial administration must also take the mayor and KMC into confidence, along with giving the local bodies the funds and powers necessary to efficiently carry out civic services.
Instead of working at cross purposes and becoming territorial, all three tiers of government must contribute to Karachi’s revival while remaining within constitutional parameters.
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2018