Karachi - Governor of Punjab Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar said that every concerned stakeholder had now realized its obligation to take part in development and progress of Karachi.

He said no time was more suitable than the present to develop Karachi as many of its deep-rooted problems such as law and order issues, terrorism, and strikes were over.

Punjab Governor stated these views on Wednesday as he had a breakfast meet-up with a selected group of journalists here at Sindh Governor House. Sarwar accompanied by the concerned philanthropists from Punjab was on an emergency visit of Sindh to take part in relief activities for the people in the province who faced disaster due to last spell of torrential monsoon downpour. Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib, founder of Akhuwat Foundation, was also present at the breakfast meet-up.

“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. 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.

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.

The Governor said that every concerned quarter in Karachi had to be on one page for the sake of progress of Karachi. A partnership of sorts is developing between the centre and Sindh for development of Karachi, he said.

He said that it was high time to do justice with Karachi as the city had witnessed much devastation as a result of rioting and clashes in the past. “Now is the time to develop Karachi as its past issues related to law and order, terrorism, and strike calls don’t exist anymore,” said Sarwar. Governor said that Karachi contributed more than any other city towards the national revenue pool to the run the entire country.

“The generous people of Karachi have also contributed extraordinarily whenever Pakistan faces any natural calamity or disaster,” he accepted.

He said that people of Karachi were more organized and had a greater sense of realization about their problems once they had gone through Covid-19 emergency.“This factor will make everybody to work for development of Karachi as the federal and Sindh government will also join hands for the cause,” he added.

While sharing his experience of doing charity work, the Governor expressed that 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. 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 houses. 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. The concerned Punjab-based philanthropists and welfare organizations have the plan to expand their relief work in Sindh.

Federal government

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.

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.

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

Unable to manage

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. 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.

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.

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.