KARACHI: Vowing to bring the perpetrators of May 9 violence to justice, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Friday that no one should have any objections if the government punished these rioters under the law, the way the United States did to its citizens for storming the Capitol Hill building in 2021.

Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of the much-delayed K-IV water supply project at the CM House, he said justice demanded that the rioters be punished like those who stormed Capitol Hill. “If that [American] punishment is legal, then no one should object if we do so under our law for the desecration of [the memorials of] our martyrs,” he added.

The prime minister said politics of chaos culminated on May 9 in the form of the desecration of the memorials of the nation’s martyrs and ghazis and security installations.

“Strings of the May 9 riots are being pulled abroad and the desecration of martyrs’ memorials and installations at the instigation of Imran Khan is the darkest chapter in the nation’s history,” he said.

Performs groundbreaking of K-IV water project; Bilawal says Karachi needs ‘Shehbaz speed’, urges upholding of state writ

He said the K-IV project was most important to him because the people of the Quaid’s city were deprived of drinking water despite it being the city with highest revenue generation and taxation.

The prime minister held out the assurance that he would put the project on top priority in the upcoming budget and provide maximum funds for its early completion.

Call for ‘Shehbaz speed’

Highlighting acute scarcity of potable water, PPP Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said even he got water through tanker at his residence in the city.

He said the people of Sindh pinned hopes on the prime minister for resolution of their problems. “The K-IV project has faced immense delay and Karachi needs ‘Shehbaz speed’ for the resolution of its issues,” he said addressing to the prime minister. As chief minister of Punjab, Mr Sharif was known for his working speed, ability to execute mega projects and quick actions.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the two major political parties of Karachi had voted for the prime minister and his government enjoyed super majority in Sindh.

He pointed out that around 52 per cent of Sindh’s educational infrastructure had been damaged by floods, affecting the education of its 47pc population.

Stressing the importance of upholding the state writ and advancing the democratic system in all circumstances, he warned that if serious crimes like setting fire to Jinnah House Lahore, demolishing martyrs’ memorials and attacking military installations were neglected, then running this country would become not only difficult, but also impossible.

“What would have been the reaction to it, if the conspiracy of May 9 events had been hatched either in Bilawal House, Raiwind or Nine Zero?” he questioned.

The PPP chairman said if the government paid attention to Karachi according to its potential, then the country can bid farewell to IMF and stand on its own feet.

Funds requested

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said Karachi was receiving 600 million gallons of water per day only against a demand of 1,200 MGD.

“With the fast-growing pace of urbanisation in Karachi, this demand and supply gap would continue to grow, and offsetting of such demand would purely be dependent upon successful and timely completion of the K-IV project which is planned to be executed in three phases of total 650 MGD,” he added.

Mr Shah said that phase-I of the project with a capacity of 260 MGD was being executed by Wapda and would be completed in 2025 provided a smooth flow of funds was ensured by all stakeholders.

“Federal government has to provide Rs113 billion from the PSDP. However, the project is facing cash flow issues with respect to critical activities and there is an apprehension that it may get delayed due to schedule overruns causing an increased cost,” he said.

He urged the prime minister to consider committing matching funds to the greenfield projects of recycling wastewater and seawater desalination plants in Karachi in PSDP 2023-2024.

Minister for Maritime Affairs Faisal Sabzwari, belonging to MQM-P, said the project was part of the agreement between his party and the ruling coalition. He said the unnecessary delay in the project had caused a huge increase in its cost.

Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori said that under the leadership PM Shehbaz and FM Bhutto-Zardari, the project was moving ahead. “For the first time, the federal and provincial governments are on the same page to execute the much-delayed project,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2023

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