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Federal government decides to 'handle the situation' in Karachi

July 31, 2019

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Federal Ministers Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Ali Zaidi. — Photo courtesy PTV
Federal Ministers Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Ali Zaidi. — Photo courtesy PTV

Federal Minister Ali Zaidi on Tuesday held the PPP government in Sindh responsible for the post-rain situation in Karachi and said that the federal government would not leave the city at the mercy of the provincial government.

Zaidi and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui were holding a joint press conference in Islamabad after it was reported that around 17 people have died since Monday morning due to rain-related incidents in Karachi.

"We need equipment, manpower, and expertise to handle the issue," Zaidi said while talking about the issue of stagnant rainwater and solid waste spread on the roads of the city.

"I have talked to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt General Mohammad Afzal. He and I are going to Karachi tomorrow in the evening," he said, adding that he also talked to Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) DG Maj Gen Inam Haider.

"They all are ready to help us. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the mayor of Karachi. We will try, as much as we can, to handle the situation in Karachi."

Talking about the gravity of the situation, he said that all the 38 storm drain nullahs in Karachi were choked and filled with trash.

He said, "We have asked several institutions for help in Karachi. I have come to know that work was already started in some areas with the help of the Army. The Sindh government failed in capacity building of its institutions so as a last resort there was a need to seek help from the Army."

"Karachi is the jugular vein of this country, Karachi is the financial centre of this country, the country will run if Karachi runs, Pakistan will face losses if Karachi is shut."

Federal Minister Zaidi said that 13,000 tons of solid waste are produced in Karachi on a daily basis.

"Out of the total 13,000 tons, some 5,000 to 6,000 tons of waste is disposed of in landfill sites," he said, adding that the rest of the trash is left in nullahs which are stormwater drains.

"I have said multiple times in my press conferences that the rainwater would enter into houses [if the trash is not removed].

"Two years ago, I had visited the Liaquatabad area in Karachi after rains. It was the occasion of Eidul Azha. I could not hold back my tears as I saw women, children and old people taking water out of their homes with the help of buckets."

He explained, "For the past eleven years, the PPP has been in power there. I want to remind people again and again that the mayor has been demanding resources since long."

He alleged that Sindh Local Bodies Minister Saeed Ghani's constituency was the worst constituency not just in the province but in the entire country.

"We used to remove — when it was close to election time — 17 dumpers full of trash from Mahmoodabad nullah, which lies in the constituency of the minister. We were not elected back then and we managed to clean the nullah but the Sindh government would not be able to do so. Either it was sleeping or it doesn't care about the people."

He added that the entire city was suffering today because of the mismanagement of the past 11 years.

"People ask us [the PTI and MQM] why we are unable to get their gutters clean. I want to make clear the fact that after the 18th Amendment, the solid waste, water, nullahs, hospitals, education, are all the responsibility of the provincial government. The progress of the provincial government [in this regard] can be seen on the TV screens as the show has been on since last night."

The minister said that he received a letter from Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar. He said that the mayor was seeking to declare a state of emergency in the city. "He [the mayor] has been asking for resources since 2015 when he was elected. At the end of his letter, the mayor sought help from the federal government through the maritime ministry."

He added that the letter was also discussed in the cabinet meeting and the prime minister was of the view that Karachi could not be left at the mercy of the provincial government. "The PPP ministers have been roaming on the streets for the last two days but simply roaming around will not clear out the gutters," he remarked.

IT Minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui also addressed the presser and said that yesterday he was visiting his constituency and observing submerged houses. He said that Karachi and other urban areas of Sindh have been facing "economic terrorism" by the PPP government for the past 11 years.

"It is not only an inability but a designed conspiracy," he said.

"Does Karachi need foreign aid? The answer is no because in these 11 years Karachi has paid Rs1.75 trillion under the head of provincial taxes," he said while complaining that the city was deprived of its due share in resources.