Karachi mayor, PSP chief trade charges of corruption

Updated August 22, 2019

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Wasim Akhtar asks Karachiites to pay taxes to federal govt and KMC; MQM-P defends mayor. — DawnNewsTV/File
Wasim Akhtar asks Karachiites to pay taxes to federal govt and KMC; MQM-P defends mayor. — DawnNewsTV/File

KARACHI: Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal on Wednesday engaged in a war of words over the state of affairs in the metropolis with both sides trading serious allegations against each other.

In the morning, the PSP chief held a press conference to respond to Mayor Akhtar’s allegations that he levelled against him in a TV programme a night before.

A furious Mr Kamal, who was also a former mayor of Karachi, demanded that Mayor Akhtar’s name be put on the Exit Control List so that could be held accountable for what he called destruction of the provincial metropolis.

Criticising the mayor, he said that he was lying to the people of Karachi that he did not have any powers. “The mayor has 80 per cent of the powers to lift garbage in the city and 100pc responsible for cleaning of storm-water drains.”

He asked the people of Karachi not to give their taxes to Mayor Akhtar since he was doing everything for the sake of “his commission”.

Wasim Akhtar asks Karachiites to pay taxes to federal govt and KMC; MQM-P defends mayor

Responding to an allegation levelled earlier by the mayor that Mr Kamal had sent to London money required for the divorce settlement of Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder Altaf Hussain, he said that Mr Akhtar’s wife should be asked this question since she was the executive district officer (finance) when he was the city nazim and it was her responsibility to handle city government’s finances.

He said that former president Pervez Musharraf had rescued a family member of Mayor Akhtar from death sentence abroad. He, however, did not elaborate.

He also called upon Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to declare “emergency” in Karachi and award the largest city of Pakistan a special status.

“Karachi has six cantonment boards ... the armed forces are a stakeholder in Karachi [so] the army chief must play his role as all three governments [the federal, provincial and city governments] have failed,” he said.

Mayor rejects allegations

In a tit-for-tat reaction, the mayor also held a press conference later in the day to lambast Mr Kamal for his utterances.

He said that the whole country knew the “real face” of the man who was levelling baseless allegation against him.

He said that Mr Kamal being the former mayor of the city introduced the menace of “china-cutting” and was facing a corruption reference by the National Accountability Bureau for selling state land in Clifton.

Mr Akhtar repeated his allegation that Mr Kamal was also instrumental in the payment to the former wife of Altaf Hussain in their divorce.

He said that Karachi needed development of municipal and civic infrastructure, but Mr Kamal focused on construction of bridges and underpasses during his tenure as the city nazim.

The mayor said that former Karachi nazim Niamatullah Khan ran the city affairs very well.

Asks people to not pay taxes to Sindh govt

Mayor Akhtar also clarified that he did not ask people to abandon the practice of paying taxes, but had only advised them “not to pay taxes to the Sindh government” as it was not spending any money on the development of city’s municipal and civic infrastructure.

He said that the people of Karachi should pay taxes to the federal government and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation instead of the provincial government so that city’s money would be spent on its uplift and development.

On Tuesday, he had said that the citizens of Karachi annually paid Rs350 billion in motor vehicle, property, provincial, Sindh Building Control Authority and other taxes but despite that their problems were increasing day by day.

“Therefore, they should now stop paying these taxes to Sindh government and stage peaceful protests,” he advised.

He said that the provincial government would be held responsible if contagious diseases spread in the city which could result in thousands of deaths.

The mayor also appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to pay attention to the city’s problems.

MQM-P defends mayor

In the evening, the MQM-Pakistan also held a press conference in an effort to defend the mayor, who is also a deputy convener of the party’s coordination committee.

Senior leader Faisal Subzwari said that Karachi’s problems would not be solved by merely criticising the mayor.

He said that the mayor did not have administrative control of whole Karachi and even important civic bodies like the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, SBCA, Sindh Solid Waste Management Board were being controlled by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government.

He said that during the recent rains all roads constructed by the Sindh government had caved in only because of the fact that there was no proper sewerage system to drain out rainwater.

He said that a conspiracy was being hatched to create more districts just to favour some “influentials”.

MQM-P leader Khwaja Izharul Hasan said that his party appreciated the efforts of the Karachi mayor who was pleading the case of the metropolis at every forum.

He questioned why some people were criticising the mayor and did not say a word against the Sindh chief minister who possessed all resources and was doing nothing for Karachi.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2019