IN teeming metropolises, crime rates need to be kept in check. Karachi is a case in point. On Nov 13, 1973 the Peoples Rural Development Department in a statement complained that gambling and marijuana dens were being run under the very nose of the police in Malir but no action was taken against them.

The next day, on Nov 14, Dawn published an interesting story. According to it, a report of theft lodged with the police the day before rebounded and led to the detection of marijuana worth rupees one million allegedly recovered from the belongings of two Dutch nationals, A V Eenbergen and Villissere Peter. They, with another companion, were staying at three posh hotels in the city. On being informed that Mr Eenbergen had lost two cameras, Rs1,750 cash and $500 along and a Swissair ticket, the police registered a case of theft. But then SP Iqbal Husain Rizvi found contraband marijuana packed in fancy packets [carried by the visitors]. It was branded as antique weighing one maund and 15 seers in three suitcases. The police had begun to look for their third accomplice and contact was established with Interpol.

That wasn’t the only thing that bothered the authorities that week. The city had been hit by a sickness accompanied by high fever that was rendering patients inactive for at least two days. The doctors believed that the change in weather and the mosquito menace were the main causes of the illness.

Mosquitoes usually breed in open spaces having standing water such as slum areas. On Nov 15, it was announced that the Sindh government had drawn up a scheme for constructing 75000 nucleus houses and 50000 flats in Karachi at an estimated cost of Rs98.82 crore to resettle jhuggi dwellers. It was claimed in the Sindh Assembly by the Provincial Minister for Housing, Town Planning and Local Government, Jam Sadiq Ali in a written answer to a question raised by Zahoorul Hasan Bhopali. It was not answered on the floor of the house due to lack of time. The minister said that the project envisaged low-cost houses in Bhutta Village, Baldia, North Karachi and Orangi.

The other politician that hogged the headlines that week was Nawab Akbar Bugti, who was then the governor of Balochistan and had tendered his resignation [over differences with the federal government on handling of the province’s affairs]. Addressing newsmen at Karachi airport on Nov 16, Nawab Akbar Bugti said the question whether he should withdraw his resignation would be discussed during his meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. However, no date had been fixed for his visit to Rawalpindi. He told journalists he was not aware of alternate arrangements after he had left the Governor House. Mr Bugti added that in his earlier meeting with the prime minister he had proposed the name of Khan of Kalat as the province’s governor.

If on the one hand the issue of resignation was being discussed, on the other hand the problem of a certain transfer had caused a commotion in certain part of the city. On Nov 17, the students of Sir Syed Girls College staged a demonstration outside the college protesting against the closure of the institution and the transfer of its principal and two teachers.

The same day, addressing a press conference, the Provincial Minister for Education Dur Mohammad Usto issued a stern warning to ‘elements’ who were trying to interfere in the administrative work of the education authorities by instigating innocent students. He claimed although the problem of Sir Syed Girls College had been resolved and all transfers except that of the principal had been stopped, the students were [still] demonstrating. Mr Usto appealed to the girls not to play into the hands of ‘certain elements’ and resume studies.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2023

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