Karachi: Now is the time to develop the city, says Sarwar

Karachi: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar has said no time is more suitable than the present to develop Karachi as many of its deep-rooted problems such as law and order issues, terrorism, and strikes are over.

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“You are well aware about the past problems of Karachi as there was so many deaths due to violence, oppression, and factional fighting as these issues are no more present as all we need is to sit together and do the planning for development of the city,” said Sarwar as he talked about mainly ethnic-based violent clashes in Karachi among different communities and political parties during the previous decades especially in the 1990s.

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During his special visit of the city devastated by the last spell of torrential monsoon rains he was accompanied by concerned charity leaders and philanthropists from Punjab for emergency aid of the disaster-hit people in the province. He also went to Badin, another coastal town of Sindh hit hard due to heavy rains, to help the affected people there.

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He said that every concerned stakeholder was under obligation to have its focus on Karachi for its progress as the provincial capital was the hub of the country’s economy and industry. “Everyone has to be on one page for development of Karachi,” he said.

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Federal government

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He said that a situation of partnership between the Sindh province and federal government had been emerging for the cause of Karachi’s development. “Every concerned quarter should now realize that it is time to do justice with Karachi as so much damage was done to the city due to riots, clashes, and fighting but now we are fortunate that we have realization of this loss,” he said.

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The Punjab Governor said that Karachi accounted for most of the revenue generated in Pakistan as the concerned philanthropists of the city had also generously donated whenever there was any national-level disaster in the country.

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He said that people of Karachi after the situation of COVID-19 pandemic had emerged more organized and aware about their problems as compared to the past. “This situation is going to compel us to work for Karachi as both the federal and provincial governments will become active in this regard,” said Sarwar who prior to 2013 was active in the UK’s politics as in 1997 he became the first Muslim member of the British Parliament

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Unable to manage

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He said that recent torrential monsoon rains in Karachi had emerged as a natural calamity. “Our cities are not designed to withstand so much rain. We have gone through a situation of calamity as no doubt there were shortcomings in our management to tackle it. But keep in the mind that when there is a situation of calamity, we are unable to manage it irrespective of how much stern management we have and whose government it is,” he said.

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He said the good aspect was that every concerned quarter had been doing its work to provide relief to the disaster-hit people after heavy rains in Karachi as the army, rangers, and National Disaster Management Authority had been doing their role.

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The biggest issue of the country was that all the powers had been given to the provinces in line with the 18th Constitutional Amendment as the provincial government in turn didn’t pass on these powers to the local governments. “The local governments are strengthened whenever dictators rule the country while no such empowerment takes place whenever democracy is restored. How we can call ourselves democratic when we don’t believe in strengthening the local governments?” he said. He said that devolution of powers to the grass-roots level was necessary for resolving the basic issues of people as the present government (of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) had been working to strengthen the local governments as what earlier was done in the case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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With the support of a network of the Punjab-based charities and philanthropists, some 100,000 rain-affected people in Sindh would be provided with food ration bags having total value of Rs 350 million he claimed. Apart from this, 10,000 deprived families would be provided with interest-free loans up to Rs 100,000 for the repair of their damaged homes. The same network earlier spent Rs six billion for support of the destitute families in Punjab during the lockdown against the spread of COVID-19.

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