KARACHI: Just two weeks after holding a multiparty conference that rejected amendments brought about by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party to the local government bill, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan organised a Karachi traders’ conference at its temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad to go over the PPP’s new LG law here on Tuesday.
MQM deputy convener Kanwar Naveed Jameel read out a resolution that said that the PPP-led Sindh government was hurting business, education and had taken away basic facilities and rights of the people of Karachi.
“Therefore, the people here, specifically the business community of Karachi have come to this conclusion that they reject the new local government act. The system is stopping the city’s economic growth. And the amendment to the 2013 LG law is taking control of all local government powers. It is paralysing them.
‘Our courts are more interested in demolishing towers but they don’t see the demolition of our Constitution’
“We want the local government to be self-sufficient. We want the cities to receive funds from the province like the province receives from the federal government. So stop going against this city. Give it its basic rights. Or we will keep fighting for our rights until we are given back our rights,” the resolution read.
Earlier, welcoming the guests, MQM-P leader Khawaja Izhar ul Hasan shed light on the issue. He said 70 per cent of Pakistan’s economy stood on Karachi’s contribution and 75pc of that contribution came from the trade and business community of the city. Therefore, they called them here.
“The decisions we make today will therefore be noteworthy for the betterment of Karachi,” he said, adding that the MQM had always moved forward while taking the business community on board.
“Now we pay taxes for everything, save air. And despite so many taxes we don’t have transport, we don’t have garbage disposal system, we don’t have clean water. There is nothing happening for anyone’s good in union councils,” he fumed.
Chairman of Aram Bagh Alliance Asif Gulzar said that if the Sindh government was unable to take care of Karachi, then it should think about making it a separate province.
Chairman of All Karachi Sarafa Tajir Ittehad Shakir Fancy said that Karachi could only be saved through jihad. “Every resident of Karachi should think about Karachi and stand up against those using Karachi for their ulterior motives,” he said.
Abdullah Bantwa of West Orangi Town Traders said that he was aware of the ‘cat and mouse game’ being played here.
Ilyas Memon of Tariq Road Tajir Alliance said that Karachi looked abandoned and disowned.
Shah Zaman of All Karachi Shadi Hall Association said that Karachi’s situation was before all and they needed to do something soon in order to save the city.
Javed Siddiqui of Karachi Electronics Alliance said that it was so sad that the city which generated 70 per cent revenue for Pakistan and 92 per cent for Sindh was treated as an ‘afterthought’.
Sheikh Irshad of Jama Cloth Association said that the time for talks had passed. “Now is the time to get up and do something.”
Alam Sheikh of Old City Tajir Ittehad said that MQM should take the lead in rejecting the act and the entire trader community was with them.
Saleem Memon of Karachi Electronic Market Association said that the laws kept on changing here and now they had that dark law. “The MQM is trying to stop it from being passed but now it is required that all the traders reject it now,” he said.
Aslam Bhatti, another trader, suggested holding protests before Chief Minister House. “Otherwise it will be like allowing the government to suck blood from our veins,” he said.
Businessman Arif Jeeva said that the business community was non-political but it was being forced to raise its voice against the injustices it faced. “Do not corner us. Do not make us leave this place. We only want our city to prosper,” he said.
Mohammed Raees of Shadi Hall Association said that to him it felt that Karachi was an orphan while its people were disowned even though Karachi holds Pakistan so dear.
“This city is not getting the resources it produces. Gas is one example of this. There is no gas in Sindh which produces gas but you go out of Sindh and there you find gas connections everywhere,” he said.
Deputy convener of Karachi Tajir Action Committee Sharjeel Goplani said that Karachi was a landmark city. “We are paying multiple taxes here and on top of that we are also asked for bribes. There are no new trade or industrial zones coming up here. The ones that were here have been encroached upon. We are made to come out on roads to get our issues resolved. The government does nothing for us. So we need to protest about this act also,” he said.
Mohammed Arshad of All Pakistan Jewellery Manufacturers said that he wanted to see the mayor of Karachi having hospitals, schools, police, sewerage system, etc, all under him. “We are all taxpayers. We deserve these facilities,” he said.
Rafiq Jadoon of Bolton Market said that they were prepared for all kind of sacrifices to make things better for the business community and for it they were with the MQM.
Sheikh Habib of All Karachi Tajirs also threatened to come out on streets to protest.
Javed Memon of Landhi Market, Hakim Shah of All Karachi Tajir Association, Rizwan Irfan of Karachi Electronic Association, Atiq Mir of Karachi Tajir Ittehad and Jamil Paracha of Karachi Tajir Alliance also spoke.
‘Liaquatabad pays more tax than Lahore’
Finally, MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui concluded the meeting. He said it was a great moment for him to be sitting amid proud and hardworking people who paid their taxes.
“This city is responsibly running the country thanks to all of you. Your views will help us move forward. We can see that tax generated from Liaquatabad alone is more than taxes from entire Lahore. And these are not our figures. These are government figures. But sadly, here justice is not just blind, it is deaf and mute, too. Our courts are more interested in demolishing ‘towers’ but they don’t see the demolition of our Constitution,” he said.
“For the last 10 years, we are saying that if votes can’t help us, the roads will. We are together on one platform in MQM with our traders’ community. It is good to know that we all share the same viewpoint. We are with you at every step of the way. Even if you stop paying taxes as you don’t get services, we will stand with you. There is a common point in your misery. No one in the government cares. We will protest for you. We will protest with you. We will take your grievances to courts. And we reject this act by the PPP with you. MQM’s door is open for you. MQM’s heart is open,” he said, adding that after hearing out the traders they would next hold similar meetings with industrialists and the chambers of commerce.
Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2021