KARACHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said Sindh is our motherland and the people talking about its bifurcation are not only its enemies but they are the enemies of Pakistan.
“This is a sensitive issue and I want to warn enemies of Pakistan don’t play with Sindh, otherwise it would cause them costly,” he told a press conference on Monday.
He said that some people were discussing things which were constitutionally impossible. “The Constitution talks about four provinces, and every province has its constitutional status, privileges and role but some people have started talking about extra-constitutional measures just to achieve their wishful thinking,” he said and urged the media not to take such things seriously.
Confirms formation of committee; says meetings with PM gave ‘colour of hatred, breaking Sindh’
The CM said that some ‘touts’ were talking about division of Sindh just to serve the purpose of India which wanted to divert public attention from atrocities in held Kashmir. “Sindh is a single unit and its division in our lives is not possible.”
Formation of committee discussed
Mr Shah said that a meeting was held on Saturday between him and Federal Minister Asad Umar, which was also attended by provincial ministers Syed Nasir Shah and Saeed Ghani and National Disaster Management Authority chief Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal.
He said that the meeting was aimed at discussing the issues of cleanliness of storm-water drains and to complete those development works which were left incomplete.
“Earlier, the federal government was not inviting me in their meetings and now they have come to Karachi to sit across the table to discuss the city of Karachi,” he said and added the formation of a committee was discussed but no committee was constituted yet.
“Yes, committees between two political parties are formed for political reasons. We are a political party and our doors are always open for dialogue,” he said and added: “If someone wants to talk to me on the issues of Karachi I would definitely welcome him.”
He declared that he would follow the party policies, which was to “follow the Constitution of Pakistan”.
The chief minister brushed aside an impression that he was under pressure. “Murad Ali Shah is not a person who could be pressurised,” he said categorically.
Praises PM’s move to send NDMA to Karachi
Mr Shah said that the NDMA chairman had met him earlier to discuss cleanliness of storm-water drains.
He added that out of 38 nullahs the NMDA was assigned to clean three drains and the Sindh government cleaned 35 nullahs and work to remove sludge was still in progress.
“When heavy rains [wrought] havoc on the city, the prime minister sent the NDMA to Karachi which is a good move,” he said and added the NDMA was a federal organisation and its job was to help the provincial governments at the time of disasters and natural calamities.
He said the mayor of Karachi himself said that the KMC and the Sindh government were jointly working to clean 38 drains.
He said that when the NDMA witnessed the ongoing work plan of the provincial government they also endorsed it to complete its cleanliness job.
“The matter was taken up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which assigned the task of cleanliness of nullahs to the NDMA,” he said.
He said that it was not the first time that heavy downpour had submerged parts of the city.
He showed a 1954 newspaper clipping in which rainwater had inundated a vehicle on a city street. He said people had very short memory.
He said that removal of encroachments along the storm-water drains was the solution to the problem.
He said that his government had made intervention in the shape of reconstruction of roads and storm-water drains, and constructed underpasses and flyovers. He said rainwater was disposed of within three to four hours and flow of traffic resumed within a few hours.
He said his government had reconstructed Jahangir Park, made Sharea Faisal a four-lane track where rainwater did not stop. Similarly, he said no water accumulated in the underpasses of Shaheed-i-Millat Road and Submarine Chowrangi. “We have initiated 38 major development schemes and most of them have been completed,” he said.
Mr Shah said that he even constructed roads in those areas which were located in cantonments such as Cantt Station road, flyover at Sunset Chowrangi.
“We have invested Rs40 billion in the city which was not enough and now more investment on the uplift of the city is being made through donor agencies,” he said and added that work on Malir Express would be started within next four months and would be completed within three years.
Centre and Sindh to work together
He said that he was asking the federal government to own Karachi because its people have elected their members but instead of supporting, some of their members were talking about fragmentation of Sindh.
“We, the federal and the provincial governments, would work together because the governance system is interlinked,” he said.
He said that the federal government had said that they would give Rs245bn to Sindh but they didn’t release the amount and this was one of the reasons various uplift schemes suffered.
“I am always available to meet with the prime minister for the betterment and development of Karachi and I am sorry whenever we meet the meetings are given different colour, the colour of hatred and the colour of breaking Sindh,” he deplored.
The chief minister also criticised the federal government for increase in prices of sugar and flour.
“When the commission on sugar was constituted, the price of one kilogram of sugar was Rs55 and after the commission’s report the price reached Rs100 per kilo,” he said and added that similarly wheat disappeared from market for which the federal government had adopted a mysterious silence.
“Whenever anybody asks them about the increasing prices of sugar, atta other items they pass on the buck to the Sindh government,” he deplored.
To a question, he said that he would try to hold local government elections at the earliest.
Replying to another question, Mr Shah said that the attorney general of Pakistan had talked to him on telephone on an issue but it was not the issue of his statement he had given in the Supreme Court regarding “other options” for Karachi.
To a query, the chief minister said that the directives given by the apex court would be implemented by giving them legal cover.
Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2020