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A look at Karachi`s uplift projects

August 19, 2008

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KARACHI, Aug 18 The city witnessed an unprecedented development work during the more than eight-year rule of former president Pervez Musharraf as he was behind the timely allocation of funds by the federal and provincial governments to successive city governments and played his role in minimising the red-tape.

Even though major development activities in Karachi were carried out by the two city governments - elected in 2001 and 2005 during Musharraf's rule - the people's representatives and government officials believe that the credit for the development rests with Mr Musharraf, who had helped arrange the finances.

Besides ensuring funds for the many development projects, the federal government, during Musharraf's rule, had initiated work to build the Northern Bypass and the Lyari Expressway in the city. While the Northern Bypass had been completed and the south-bound Lyari Expressway is operational, work to construct a north-bound carriageway is in progress.

The shifting of Karachi's Subzi Mandi from Gulshan-i-Iqbal to the Super Highway and the construction of a park on its place was also an achievement which, according to many officials, could not be possible without the direct support of Mr Musharraf.

It was Mr Musharraf who had directed various federal organisations in the city to give their share for the development of Karachi. The Karachi Port Trust, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mill, Pakistan Air Force and many other federal bodies had provided funds to the city government for several development projects, which had been constructed under the Rs29 billion Taameer-i-Karachi Programme.

The large-scale construction of road and infrastructure networks, including flyovers and underpasses, completion of the K-III 100-MGD Greater Water Supply project, revival of low-cost housing schemes, construction of Pakistan's tallest building and many more projects had been initiated and completed during Musharraf's government.

However, it is also known to everyone that almost every development project - whether it was federally-funded Lyari Expressway or the city government's Nagan Chowrangi flyover - had missed their deadlines.

His critics also admitted that large-scale development took place in Karachi during Musharraf's regime. However, they were of the view that none of the previous democratic governments were given sufficient time to carry out and complete development projects in the commercial and economic capital of the country.

Former city nazim Niamatullah Khan, who belongs to the Jamaat-i-Islami, told Dawn that Mr Musharraf had always praised and supported his work when he was the Karachi nazim, but he did not provide funds to the city government for carrying out development work. “During my tenure, he did not give even a single penny to the city government. We had enhanced our revenue and minimised corruption to carry out development works in the city.”

He, however, said that the Lyari Expressway and the Northern Bypass were the projects of the federal government and the city government had nothing to do with the two projects.

Provincial minister and leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Faisal Subzwari said that despite some flaws, the introduction of the devolution of power plan system was an achievement through which the district governments got fiscal autonomy and was able to launch development projects.

He said Mr Musharraf knew the importance of Karachi as the revenue engine of the country. “During his rule, red-tape was minimised although there are projects like the Karachi Mass Transit Programme and the Karachi Circular Railway that could not be initiated due to the insurmountable bureaucratic hurdles.”

City government officials said the former president was very keen on the development of Karachi and he himself monitored the progress of several projects. A former senior official told Dawn that despite his reservations about the former president, Mr Musharraf had approved the Taameer-i-Karachi Programme which was presented by former nazim Niamatullah Khan.

They felt that the change of guard at the highest level might affect the overall development of Karachi.