Karachi and monsoon challenge

July 30, 2020

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Karachi on Monday caused mayhem, claiming four more lives and unleashing urban flooding in large parts of these districts due to already choked and clogged storm drains, leading to immense hardships to
thousands of people stranded on the roads. Over a two-day period, on Sunday and Monday, the people of Karachi went through another hellish rain-related experience. Again, a few millimetres of
precipitation were enough to bring the metropolis of millions to a grinding halt. There were electrocution-related deaths, roads were submerged and therefore impassable, while there was no electricity for hours in many city areas. Perhaps in some other country there would be outrage over such
a sad state of affairs in a nation’s commercial capital. But in Karachi, it’s business as usual. As expected, the city’s political players were busy slinging mud at each other, rather than coming up with solid ways
to end this torturous yearly punishment meted out to Karachi’s citizens. However, the Sindh government’s response was particularly insensitive, considering that the PPP-led provincial administration has been micromanaging Karachi and other urban areas of Sindh by taking over nearly all municipal functions.
Local Government Minister Nasir Shah first tried to attribute the chaos to a “natural calamity”, while adding that things “could have been worse”. Moreover, the minister had the gall to say opponents of
the PPP were uploading “old” pictures and videos to malign all the wonderful work the government had done. Surely, Mr Shah must be talking about a different city, for Karachi over the last few days has
resembled a settlement caught in the gushing waters of a biblical flood, with no government response
worth the name. While it is true that the PPP has chipped away at all local government powers thanks to
its numbers in the Sindh Assembly, it alone is not the only party to blame. The MQM, which ruled
Karachi with an iron fist for decades, also did little other than make superficial moves towards giving this
city a modern infrastructure, including a working drainage system. Ironically, save for the Musharraf-era
local government system, Karachi has been neglected by the PPP, which doesn’t have a major vote bank
here, as well as the MQM, which has made loud noises about the rights of Karachi, but has done little to
translate rhetoric into deliverable policy. Even the PTI, which won the majority of the city’s National
Assembly seats, has done nothing for the metropolis.
What Karachi needs is an overhaul of its decaying infrastructure and effective local government that
helps protect it from disaster. Will any of the political players that milk this city step forward and do
what is needed?
A few millimetres of precipitation in Karachi were enough to bring the metropolis of millions to a
grinding halt. A complete overhaul is required of decaying infrastructure and effective local
government that helps protect people from disaster.

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