Karachi is not a city which experiences the blessing of rainfall often unlike other parts of Pakistan. The residents of the coastal city, of all ages and backgrounds, yearn for rain, awaiting to find a retreat from the rising temperatures and relishing the calmer climate. From going on drives, devouring local delicacies, to dancing in the rain, the city comes to life through the joy of its residents in a beautiful mesmerising sense. This is not a new phenomenon but since time memorial societies have remained dependent upon rain, eager for its arrival, considering it as a blessing from God.

Unfortunately, the recent rainfall in Karachi elicited no such feelings. While, major traffic jams, power outages, and electrocution are unfortunate frequent occurrences in the monsoon rain, never has there been such havoc, hardship, and panic brought about. The city came to a halt and standstill as roads were flooded, making it impossible for people to commute in the city. In most localities water reached unprecedented high levels, drowning cars in the process and making way into people’s houses. Since it was the week leading to Eid-ul-Azha, sacrificial animals shared the plight of residents, causing several of them to die or fall sick. Rainfall and Eid, two events which are considered as blessings from God, were turned into a Wrath for the citizens of Karachi. The reason being, sheer mismanagement and failure to act by the authorities.

One might assume there was no retreat from this heavy rainfall, as Houston suffers from hurricane Harvey. However, the current crisis could have easily been avoided and its effect mitigated with adequate planning and preventive measures adopted. The annual monsoon rain is known to cause a stir in the South Asian region, and with technological advancements and accurate weather forecasts it was expected and predictable. Yet, we were ill prepared and unable to adopt measures to deal with the rain.

Hence the question is raised in one’s head, why were we not prepared? In the absence of a proper waste management mechanism, most of the city’s waste is dumped into the drainage system, severely reducing their limited capacity to deal with rainfall. Moreover, these drains had not been cleaned or repaired thereby not allowing them to function at optimum potential.

But this leads us to the question that whose responsibility is it to ensure these tasks? Since the country is high on accountability hunts since Panama, this mishap should not be overlooked.

The tussle for power between local government (MQM controlled) and provincial government has created deep rooted problems for Karachi, a city with crippling infrastructure and a booming population. The situation created by the rainfall is a prime example. The MQM has been complaining and struggling repeatedly for greater autonomy and control of institutions such as Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) which fall within the local bodies’ ambit. There is a petition filed with the Supreme Court of Pakistan that addresses all of these grievances. At present, the Sindh Building Control Authority to the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board, and from Sindh Transport and Mass Transit Department to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, the power to make decisions remains with the PPP led provincial government. Yet we see the PPP conveniently and remorselessly point the finger towards the MQM, as it was the local government’s responsibility.

A power tussle of this sort and lack of clearly defined responsibilities have created a blame game between political parties, trying to avoid responsibility for gross negligence and massive mismanagement. To an extent, it is a win-win situation for both, while the ultimate victims are your common citizens. There is a dire need for a neutral commission to be created which investigates into this incident and provides a report including recommendations. It is then up to the Courts, civil society, and media to ensure the implementation of these reforms, since having hope from the elected representatives alone would be a futile exercise. Their lack of political will and gross mismanagement is apparent from this incident, making a blessing like rainfall into wrath.