KARACHI: Adviser to the Chief Minister of Sindh and Administrator of Karachi Barrister Murtaza Wahab provided a road map for the betterment of Karachi at a book launch held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of English Speaking Union of Pakistan (ESUP) here on Tuesday.
Speaking as the chief guest on the occasion, Barrister Wahab said he calls himself a Pakistani of choice. “Because I studied abroad but chose to come back. I realised that nothing happens in society unless you join it and become a part of the process of change. You have to be a part of the system to be able to change it,” he said.
He said he became a provincial minister at the age of 31 and from there he has assumed various positions in the government though he never intended to be a politician. “But I was born to politician parents. So my journey has not been of struggle but of work,” he said.
“Before assuming the position of Karachi administrator, I started hearing all kinds of negative talk that I am too young, that I won’t be able to do much but I look at things from a different perspective. Negativity and being cynical has crept into our society where people are more into saying ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’. But I want to give people hope in the system of government that can bring about change, that can deliver,” he said, adding that for this he has given himself some targets.
Book launch marks the 60th anniversary of ESUP
Barrister Wahab said that his first target was solid waste management. “Garbage disposal is a sore point with the government. There is this rhetoric that the city administration has no power. But this rhetoric that the Sindh government has reduced the power of city administrations has been created.
“Garbage collection is the responsibility of district municipal corporation chairmen, some of whom have deliberately failed to deliver, and indulge in a blame game,” he said.
“The problem is that Karachi also has six cantonment boards, which are federal entities. But you see garbage on the roads in Clifton or DHA and think that the provincial or local government has failed. The city needs to have a uniform system. With this bifurcation of Karachi, the blame game will carry on.”
The second problem faced by the city as pointed out by Barrister Wahab is water. “Karachi’s water requirement is 1,100 million gallons per day [MGD] but the water coming from the Hub Dam and Keenjhar Lake is about half of that requirement. The world has gone to alternative sources of water but here in Pakistan we are still contemplating. Desalination is a reality in a number of countries and Karachi, being a coastal city, can do it also. But the government, even if it realises the need to go to the ocean, is afraid that if it decides to go for it, it will have to answer to NAB and the courts,” he said.
“There is also the issue that we don’t think of water as a commodity. We are willing to buy water from tankers but we are not willing to pay water bills. But as citizens we need to cooperate with the government to make desalination plants a reality. We need to join hands with the government to sustain such a project.”
As for the third issue of Karachi, Barrister Wahab said that it was transport. He said that they are going to have the Red Line, Orange Line and Green Line entering the working phase very soon. He also said that the construction of the Malir Expressway has also started along with work on link roads and bridges. “Besides, we are also working on improving old neighbourhoods and creating food streets like we are doing at Wazir Mansion and Boat Basin, respectively.”
Earlier, the ESUP book’s editor Afshan Lalani spoke about the special edition and the work that went into compiling it.
ESUP president Aziz Memon, vice president Kalim Farooqui and secretary general Majyd Aziz also spoke.
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2021