Another trouble for Karachi

There seems no end to Karachi’ troubles. When it’s not ethnic strife, gang warfare, street crime and kidnapping, it’s the city’s infrastructure collapsing beyond comprehension because of excessive rainwater. And that has been pretty much the theme this monsoon season. Since at least early July the skies have opened periodically on the port city with devastating effect. Not only have large parts of the city been literally under water most of this time, the hit to normal life has brought all sorts of activity to a screeching halt. The last few days have been particularly merciless, breaking a hundred year record, and there is still no end to the misery since the rains are expected to go on a while longer.

That the prime minister has taken notice and the Sindh chief minister has been visiting city after city is routinely comforting, but that’s about it, since these things are not going to solve the problems that the people are facing. Now Karachi is effectively paralysed with much of it giving the look of a raging river, people are unable to get to work or other important places like hospitals, which means that not only is there a lot of unnecessary suffering but the economy is also taking a hit. Let’s not forget that Karachi is the biggest earner of the country since it gives the most to the national kitty.

The PM has ordered all possible help from the federal machinery, including calling in the army and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) all over again, which is appreciated of course since it shows that he is concerned, but what is that going to do about all the water in the immediate term? And how is that going to make the next time the rains come any different? Karachi clearly needs the most extreme overhaul imaginable. And that, should the will to do it somehow someday be found, will mean that things will get much worse before they begin getting any better. But once everything is on the med, then progress should snowball. But do people, and also the government, have the patience for something like this? Usually sitting governments tend to avoid such extensive projects because they outlive the electoral cycle, and they don’t want the election to fall when things have yet to turn around. That can make people swing the wrong way for them when they cast their vote. But short of that there is only periodic misery for the people and for the country. So the sooner something is done about it the better.

The PM has ordered all possible help from the federal machinery, including calling in the army and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) all over again, which is appreciated of course since it shows that he is concerned, but what is that going to do about all the water in the immediate term? And how is that going to make the next time the rains come any different? Karachi clearly needs the most extreme overhaul imaginable.

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