FEW will disagree that infrastructure across Sindh — from the megalopolis of Karachi to the districts in the interior of the province — is in a shambles. And while the centre and Sindh government never tire of blaming each other for the mess, neither has any viable plan to revamp this forsaken province. Moreover, while there are frequent announcements of ‘development packages’ for Sindh, these have failed to improve the situation.
On Friday, while visiting Sukkur, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced an ambitious plan for Sindh, designed to inject Rs446bn into the province. The money is supposed to be spent on restoring agricultural land, constructing a dam, building a motorway and bringing gas to villages, amongst other schemes. While Mr Khan was not entirely wrong in comparing parts of Sindh to Moenjodaro — arguably the ancient site had better planning and drainage facilities than many towns of the province do in the 21st century — it is sincerely hoped that the plans are meant to move backward areas beyond the realm of rhetoric. After all, the prime minister had last year announced a Rs1.1tr package for Karachi after heavy monsoon rains had destroyed the civic and drainage system of Pakistan’s largest city. People of the metropolis are still waiting for those promises to be fulfilled.
Unfortunately, Sindh has not seen much development worth the name during the PPP’s more than decade-long rule in the province. Both urban and rural areas are a picture of neglect, while even the PTI, which won the most seats from Karachi during the last general election, has worked no wonders in the port city. Perhaps the energies of both parties are invested more in putting each other down, rather than improving conditions in Sindh. While it is true that in the post-18th Amendment period the provincial administration has been granted maximum powers, the PPP has failed to use these for the betterment of Sindh. On the other hand, the centre’s attempts to improve matters have come across as heavy-handed, and many see Islamabad as attempting to reimpose centralisation. The worst sufferers in this tug of war have been the people of Sindh. The fact is the PPP needs to hugely improve its game in the governance department, while the PTI can help provide the funds, advice etc to help modernise Sindh and give its people a much higher quality of life.
Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2021