HYDERABAD: Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Faisal Sabzwari has called for strengthening local governments (LGs) with resources and using them to effectively tackle new challenges like Covid-19 pandemic and the multifaceted crisis it has engendered.

He was addressing a press conference and launching a hand-washing campaign to prevent spread of the virus and adopt precautionary measures at the union committees of two tehsils, Latifabad and Hyderabad, at Quaid-i-Millat Park off the Autobahn Road on Wednesday evening.

Mr Sabzwari said the representatives of local governments, who were at lower or mohalla level, knew about each and every one in their particular areas while assistant commissioners and mukhtiarkars were unaware of the condition of the poor and deserving people.

He said the Ehsaas or ration distribution programme was not a plan of Benazir Bhutto or Imran Khan’s money as that was the cash of taxpayers and the state was returning money in terms of services. Nobody should do politics over that because it was not a time of politics of vote.

He said that it was a responsibility of all political and religious parties and the rulers to apprise people of controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus in all areas. He said people would not remain home anymore if they were left in the lurch and not given ration to satiate their hunger. He said the government, political parties and common people should provide aid to the deserving people from the national kitty, their available resources and pockets respectively.

He said that it was a testing time and all rulers and parties should come on one page to fight those crises. He said the MQM-P adopted a “balanced and pragmatic approach” which was not like that of the federal and provincial governments during the lockdown. It supported the lockdown only because of the poor health system to prevent the spread of the pandemic, he added.

He urged the Sindh chief minister and inspector general of police to control police “hooliganism” on roads of Hyderabad and Karachi where motorbikes of poor people were punctured in the name of action against pillion riding and being insulted in front of their women and children by police.

“It is not a police state. A general perception prevails in Karachi that those who steal and those who arrest are not locals of Karachi. Kidnappers and armed robbers are seen in police force. Insulting people is a shame” he said.

He said that if police hooliganism and unfair ration distribution persisted, the MQM-P would come forward for the rights of people. The MQM-P did not feel like doing politics, but they were receiving complaints from locals against police’s unprofessional attitude and unfair ration distribution in the localities of Hyderabad and Karachi frequently.

Slamming the Sindh government, he said the government submitted its reply to the Supreme Court that it distributed 250,000 ration bags as per lists provided by union committee chairmen. He said it was completely wrong. He said the government distributed “a couple” of rations bags to UCs chairmen and their number was varying from 38, 40, 70 to 90.

He said 140 UCs of Karachi and around 78 UCs of Hyderabad came under MQM-P areas where there were serious question marks over the distribution of ration bags. He said the MQM-P distributed 150,000 ration bags in Karachi and 25,000 in Hyderabad among the deserving people, but the demand was still high.

“We are working to fight the virus and anti-bacterial or chemical spray is being carried out in hospitals, markets and others places,” Hyderabad Mayor Tayyab Hussain said.

He appealed to people to adopt all precautionary measures, including observing social distancing, wearing protective face masks and gloves, using sanitizers, staying home, avoiding unnecessary visits etc.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2020

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