KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan has signed a summary authorising the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Frontier Works Organisation to carry out a cleanliness drive in Karachi with “unlimited funds” and long-term role of the federal and military organisations.
The announcement was made by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail while speaking at a press conference at the Governor House with Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi on Thursday.
“I held a detailed meeting with the PM the other day in Islamabad,” said the governor. “The PM was already very concerned about the situation in Karachi and wanted to see it develop at a robust pace. The crisis [emerging] after the recent rains further made him concerned. He’s clear that the city cannot be left abandoned. So today [Thursday] he signed the summary for long-term solution of Karachi problems.”
He ruled out the move as intervention from Islamabad in the provincial domain which could challenge the authority of the Pakistan Peoples Party government in Sindh and called the PM’s decision as the only option left for relief of Karachiites.
“I ask you what option we have if we don’t do this?” he said in response to a question. “Everyone in Karachi is a witness to how the local bodies system failed in the rains every year. I don’t need to tell you who runs the local government system. I don’t want to involve politics on this occasion.”
Mayor wants implementation of Article 140-A for a durable solution of problems
Explaining the PM’s plan for Karachi, he said initially the NDMA had been tasked with cleanliness of the city. The PM has also asked the Sindh governor to coordinate between the centre and the provincial government to address problems faced by the people, particularly the urban flood-like situation in Karachi due to the dilapidated drainage system in the city, he added.
“Initially a three-pronged strategy has been devised,” said Mr Ismail. “First we would remove all garbage that came out of the nalas during rains and in the second phase we would clean all those drains. In the third phase a fumigation drive would be initiated across the city. There’s no shortage of funds and it was decided that whatever would be the financial needs, it would be met by the federal government.”
He made it clear that the role of Islamabad in Karachi’s affairs would not be for a short period as the prime minister had issued clear directives for long-term and sustainable solutions.
The governor said that during the meeting with the PM, he had informed the premier about the recent spell of torrential rains in Sindh and inundation of Karachi by rainwater due to the dilapidated drainage system in the country’s commercial hub.
The prime minister immediately directed the NDMA to present a report on the drainage system and rains in Karachi.
Later, the Sindh governor said he also called on President Dr Arif Alvi to discuss the situation in Karachi after the recent rains. They discussed solutions to the issues which have emerged in Karachi after the recent rainfall and reviewed various proposals in this regard, he added.
Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar welcomed Islamabad’s move but called for the implementation of Article 140-A of the Constitution for a durable and constitutional solution to the city’s problems.
“We cannot go for long with temporary measures. I strongly recommend implementation of Article 140-A of the Constitution. I appeal to the PM and the chief justice for their role in the implementation of this crucial clause,” he said.
Article of 140-A of the Constitution says: “Each Province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve
political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.”
Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2020