Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan with more than 20 million people. Karachi is also the port city and largest commercial, industrial and financial center of the country. Karachi accounts for nearly 30 percent of Pakistani economy. Karachi is also the biggest revenue generation base in the country. As having the two largest ports of country, Karachi collects duties and taxes on imports and exports.
But Karachi is facing many civic problems of basic nature. The sanitation, garbage collection and disposal, traffic jams, water shortage, power breakdowns, high crime rate, underdevelopment, neglect and poor infrastructure, poor health and education services and unorganised and unplanned expansion of the city are major problems faced by the residents of the city.
Karachi suffered for nearly three decades because of ethnic, linguistic, sectarian and political conflicts. The increased violence, high crime rate and political tensions hamper the growth of this mega city. It was one of the fastest growing cities in world in 1960s and 1970s. It was called city of lights for its rich nightlife. It was a city of economic opportunities and dreams.
But 1980s and 90s changed everything. The violence and instability reduced the economic growth in this city. The situation became so volatile and unstable that Karachi makes it to list of 10 most dangerous cities in the World. The Rangers launched a successful operation in the city to make it a normal city. Now Karachi drops back to 60th position as the most dangerous city as the result of this operation. The normalcy has returned back to the city.
Now Karachi needs big infrastructure development initiative to overcome the poor infrastructure and lack of basic civic services and facilities. Karachi needs a massive investment in transport, road improvement, water supply and health and education. Karachi needs special package to build the basic infrastructure to provide services and basic needs to its population.
Karachi, being the country’s most populous and demographically diverse metropolis is indispensable to Pakistan’s economy. Its development and the subsequent preservation of resources are directly proportional to Pakistan’s socio-economic progress. After a period of chaos, terrorism and political cult violence, this relative peace period now demands for better and sustainable governance measures.
The general sentiment from the city however, projects it as neglected, underdeveloped and mismanaged. This is evident in the lack of basic civic amenities, primarily clean and hygienic water for drinking and domestic use in addition to a general water shortage that has prevailed in recent years due to poor water management and global climate change.
Urban planning and service delivery have not kept pace with Karachi’s growth, resulting in the city’s low ranking on liveability rankings. The city has no cohesive transportation policy, and no official public transit system, though up to 1,000 new cars are added daily to the city’s congested streets.
Unable to provide housing to large numbers of refugees shortly after independence, Karachi’s authorities first issued “slips” to refugees beginning in 1950 – which allowed refugees to settle on any vacant land. Such informal settlements are known as katchi abadis, and now approximately half the city’s residents live in these unplanned communities.
This water shortage is visible in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi where the issue of water shortages has plagued the city for decades. Furthermore, the areas on the outskirts of the city have to rely on drilled wells and methods of boring holes to extract water from the ground. The water obtained through these methods, however, is ultimately un?t for human consumption or use. Karachi’s ‘water problem’ is fast transforming into ‘water crisis’ and should be considered as a serious threat that impacts economic productivity and the overall health of the city’s local inhabitants.
MQM dominated the Karachi as the main political force in this city. MQM remained part of successive governments in last three decades. The PPP also formed provincial governments many times. PPP ruled Sindh for consecutive ten years from 2008 to 2018. But both MQM and PPP failed to solve these basic issues. No government showed its intention to build desalination plants to overcome the water shortage. Karachi is still relying on the two water reservoirs to get the much needed water. The desalination plants can solve this serious issue.
All the political forces are claiming to address the basic civic issues of Karachi. But no political party has announced specific details of its program to solve these problems. It seems that Karachites will continue to suffer even after the July 25th general elections. No political party is ready to provide the necessary resources to undertake massive development projects.
The slums and poor areas of Karachi looks like the most underdeveloped and backward villages and areas of the country. The some posh areas of the city don’t represent the rest of city. The development and uplift projects are confined to some areas of the city. The rest of city and specially slums have been left out of this development.
The different political parties are trying to get maximum number of seats from Karachi as dominating force of Karachi MQM is facing serious political and organisational crisis. PPP, PTI, MMA and PML-N are trying to fill the vacuum created by the gradual weakness and splits of MQM. The political parties are using the mere slogans and political rhetoric instead of seriously preparing a plan to actually solve these problems.
It seems that people of Karachi will continue to suffer even after the July25th general elections because political leadership lacks the will to address these issues. The water crisis is going to be even worse. Power shortages and breakdowns are going to remain the part of daily lives. Garbage will continue to pile up on the streets and neighbourhoods. Every rain will cause havoc in city as drains needs to be cleaned. Transport system will continue to further deplete and become even more inadequate and inefficient.
General Musharaf tried to improve the infrastructure in this biggest metropolis of Pakistan as he invested heavily in Karachi. MQM take credit of this development but real credit goes to General Musharaf who seriously tried to transform the city and provided adequate and required resources. Both the PPP and PML-N governments ignored the needs of this most important city.
It is true that law and order situation has been significantly improved. But Karachi now needs development and delivery of services to fully utilise this improved law and order. The paramilitary forces have restore peace, stability and order in the city. Now the political leadership should take the lead in developing, providing, improving and building the infrastructure and basic needs and services in Karachi.
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27 September, 2019