KARACHI: Expressing concern over persistent government apathy towards the pitiable conditions of the city, civil society activists at a meeting held on Saturday urged the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the matter and re-establish the water commission which, they said, did manage to force government institutions to perform.

The meeting of the Karachi Citizens Forum was held at the PMA House.

Describing the recent controversy over Karachi’s affairs between the federal and provincial governments as regrettable, the participants were of the opinion that an opportunity to work for the city seemed to have been lost by the committee comprising members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan.

They were of the opinion that the high-powered 12-member Karachi Strategic Committee recently set up by the prime minister to sort out civic issues plaguing the city should have adopted a pragmatic approach and worked for improvement instead of indulging in political controversies.

They criticised Federal Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem for his controversial statements on Article 149 and said that it’s the responsibility of each and every political party and individual provided with an opportunity to serve the masses to avoid political fights especially at a time when the city desperately needed action on civic matters.

“This committee led by Federal Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem should have approached officials concerned and inquired how civic issues could amicably be sorted out,” said retired justice Shaiq Usmani, adding that collaboration was the only way to resolve issues.

Nargis Rahman of Pakistan Women’s Foundation for Peace (PWFP) said while voices were being constantly raised over the city’s poor living conditions for the past many months, the government apparently hadn’t moved an inch towards action.

“Political parties seem to be settling their own scores at the cost of public interests. The rumours that the federal government may take over Karachi’s administrative control under Article 149 have created more distance among the political parties in power,” she said, adding that the strained relationship of the federal and provincial government wasn’t good for the county.

Dr Qaiser Sajjad of the Pakistan Medical Association shared his concern over the deteriorated state of public health and wondered why departments pertaining to waste collection, sewage and environmental management were negligent towards their duties when they were being paid regular salaries.

“The state of public health in the city could be gauged from the increasing number of morbidity and mortality due to various types of infections,” he said.

There was consensus that the situation of Karachi demanded that the chief justice intervene and re-establish the water commission which managed to force government institutions to do their job.

The meeting participants decided that a seminar on civic issues of Karachi would be held on Sept 26 in which representatives of all political parties would be invited. The event would also have detailed presentations on the gravity of city’s civic issues.

Participants included Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro, general secretary of PMA (Karachi), Dr Laila Hashwani representing PWFP, Saira Iqbal of Hunar Foundation, Samina Ahmed and Sana Farooqi of Ra’ana Liaquat Craftsmen Colony.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2019