A WAR of words between the centre and the Sindh government has been underway for the past several days, with both sides accusing each other of doing nothing for the province. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had written to the prime minister accusing the PTI-led federal government of harbouring “abject bias” against the province, while also criticising the proposed PSDP allocations as “lopsided”. Planning Minister Asad Umar hit back at the Sindh administration, claiming that “never before has any federal government in history ... spent so much money in Sindh”, while adding that the centre had earmarked funds for both the urban and rural parts of the province.
This testy exchange between the centre and the province would actually have been quite amusing for the people of Sindh had the situation on the ground not been so pathetic. The fact is that neither Islamabad nor the PPP-led provincial administration has done anything worthwhile for Sindh, as the infrastructure of the province’s rural and urban parts crumbles. The federal government has announced grandiose schemes for Karachi and other districts. But what has practically been done? Take the Green Line bus scheme. The federally funded transport project that kicked off in 2016 has yet to see the light of day as deadlines for its inauguration keep getting pushed back indefinitely. On the other hand, the Sindh government is also prone to announcing seemingly impressive schemes, often with funding from foreign lenders. Yet after nearly 13 years of post-Musharraf rule over the province, can the PPP in all honesty claim that it has brought positive changes to Sindh? Karachi, the provincial capital, is in an advanced state of disrepair, while even in the ‘interior’ of the province — which happens to be the PPP’s stronghold — health, education and civic facilities are in an extremely poor state. The fact is that instead of politicking, both the centre and Sindh government need to get down to the serious work of revamping the province’s infrastructure and civic services.
Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2021