THE sanitary situation in Karachi is far from perfect. To put it mildly, Pakistan’s largest city and economic heart presents the picture of a giant garbage dump, with streets overflowing with sewage. In the aftermath of the recent rains and with the leftovers of the Eidul Azha sacrifice, the situation has worsened considerably, with mountains of trash spoiling the city and the sewage situation seemingly out of control. And, expectedly, instead of combining forces to tackle this grave situation head-on, the PPP-led Sindh government and the MQM-steered city administration have been indulging in an ugly blame game about who is responsible for the state of affairs in Karachi. To make things more interesting, the PTI-led federal government has also jumped into the fray, taking potshots at the Sindh administration for its lack of performance. However, a statement by the Karachi mayor on Tuesday, asking the people to stop paying taxes to the Sindh government, is ill-advised. While the mayor is understandably frustrated because the provincial government controls the Sindh solid waste management body, as well as the water board in Karachi, asking citizens to stop paying taxes is not the right way to lodge a protest. Imran Khan advocated similar tactics while the PTI was in the opposition; suffice to say, elected representatives should not be advocating such a course of action, considering the fact that already there are major issues with below-target tax collection in the country.
Interestingly, the federal government, aided by the MQM, has launched the Clean Karachi campaign to spruce up the city. Perhaps realising that this may make them look bad politically, the Sindh government has launched a Blue Jacket movement of its own to prevent littering. All these initiatives are fine, as long as they are not designed simply as political gimmicks. More than gimmickry, what Karachi really needs is an empowered local setup accountable to the people and that has the funds, manpower and mandate to keep the city clean.
Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2019