KARACHI - Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa held a meeting with Karachi businessmen that lasted for several hours on Wednesday, the second day of his visit to the southern port city.

Army chief visited Karachi after the city was ravaged by heavy monsoon rains, leaving large parts of the provincial metropolitan submerged due to urban flooding. The devastation caused by the rains has led to protests by angry residents, unhappy with the arrangements to cope with the rain season by the city and provincial authorities. The visit by Army Chief is being seen as an expression of solidarity with the residents of Karachi and also to shore up efforts and concrete steps to mitigate their sufferings.

During the meeting, General Bajwa compared Karachi budget with some other mega cities of the world and said the budget dedicated to the port city was not sufficient for its needs. Issues of sewerage, circular railway and water shortage were also discussed in the meeting.  

“Army chief was very well prepared and it seems he has a clear roadmap about Karachi,” Aqeel Karim Dhedhi, a leading businessman, who was among business leaders who met the army chief, was quoted as saying by a private television news network. “Army chief said a three-year plan will be made to fix Karachi’s outstanding issues,” Mr. Dhedi said.

On Tuesday Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Karachi on a two-day long visit. COAS was flown over the city for aerial reconnaissance of the ground impact of urban flooding in Karachi.  Later, COAS visited Karachi Corps Headquarters.

COAS was briefed about worst urban flooding in the recent history of Karachi and Army’s support to civil administration across Sindh and particularly Karachi. COAS was apprised that unprecedented rains combined with decades of urban congestion, unplanned population settlement as well as infrastructural issues compounded the problem.

COAS said that no city in Pakistan could cope with a natural calamity of this scale. “Our issue is not non availability of resources but setting priorities right,” he said.

COAS said that the plans being made by the federal and provincial governments would have Army’s all out support as having future repercussions on economic security of the country.

COAS said that this natural calamity provided opportunity to set the priority for management of mega cities across Pakistan to avoid such disasters in future.

He expressed satisfaction on the pace of disaster relief work. He reiterated that Army would not disappoint the people in this time of need.

COAS appreciated garrison troops for maintaining law and order particularly during Muharram. General Bajwa said that peace in national economic hub Karachi was vital for security and stability of Pakistan. Efforts would continue to maintain normalcy in Karachi and the province, he said.