KARACHI - Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Tuesday said that their suggestion to appoint a local as administrator Karachi was rejected.

MQM-P also expressed disappointment that the Federal government chose to implement the Rs1,100 billion Karachi Transformation Plan through the “corrupt” provincial government rather than opting for the local government of its allied party.

Addressing a press conference along with other leaders of the party in Karachi, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said MQM-P has serious reservations over the appointment of administrators for Sindh including Karachi.

He said, “If you [federal government] wanted to invest in the city then you should have invested through those who know the city,” said MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui in a press conference flanked by former Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar, party leaders Kunwar Naveed Jamil and Faisal Subzwari.

“If PM wanted to invest 1,100 billion then he should have done so through the elected local government,” lamented Siddiqui, whose party is an ally of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf at the Centre.

He said he didn’t think the decision was made by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The MQM-P leader reminded that the country’s progress was linked through Karachi. He added that Pakistan had developed whenever MQM had gotten a mandate.

Siddiqui said that his party did not want to raise the question on the recently announced package for the city but hoped that it was implemented.

“Everyone has a right to benefit from Karachi’s [potential] but no one had ever given back,” said Siddiqui, asking what was the reason that PM Imran did not announce the Karachi package through the local government.

The MQM leader also expressed his reservation over the appointment of an administrator for Karachi after the tenure of the local governments ended. He also alleged that appointments were made in Sindh based on ethnicity.

“It is being proven that no one in Sindh will get education, jobs or development,” said the former federal minister. He also alleged that the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party does not consider Sindh as a “single administrative unit.”

Karachi Transformation Plan

Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan had unveiled a massive Rs1,100bn, three-year development plan for the city, a week after torrential rains inundated roads and left many areas without power for days.

Addressing a news conference at the Governor House in Karachi, the prime minister said that the “historic” Rs1,100bn Karachi development package will cater to the city’s diverse problems ranging from water supply, to transport and solid waste management.

PM Imran said that he would have arrived in Karachi earlier but it was important to first decide on a structure to fix the city’s chronic issues.

“We have been put to another test,” he said, referring to the problems posed by the recent rains right after the government fought to contain the coronavirus pandemic and reported a decline in infections.

PM Imran praised the government for handling the pandemic well, saying that very few countries in the world had handled it like Pakistan had.

Delving deeper into the government’s coronavirus response, PM Imran said that following the same formula, his government had decided to constitute the Provincial Coordination and Implementation Committee (PCIC), which will report to the chief minister Sindh.

“It [PCIC] will include all stakeholders,” said the prime minister, adding that the army will play a big role. “In all the countries of the world the army is at the forefront of such situations as it is the most organised institution and the most capable.”

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Tuesday lashed out at the Sindh government for appointing “non-local officers” as administrators in cities across the province.

Addressing a press conference in Karachi, he began by saying that the party had certain “concerns.” “Having concerns is not a sin because things have been announced on multiple occasions but nothing has ever happened.”

He added that the party would not comment on the funds allocated for the metropolis under the Karachi Transformation Plan, a financial package worth Rs1.1 trillion. “Some people are conducting a post-mortem of what is being given. We don’t want to do that,” he said in an apparent reference to the PPP.

Karachi’s development was inextricably linked with the country’s development but our concerns manifested into a reality when the city’s administrator was appointed, he said.

On Saturday, the provincial government had appointed senior bureaucrat and former commissioner of Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani as the city’s administrator.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail on Monday stated that Shallwani’s appointment was a consensus decision of “all stakeholders”. However, the MQM-P, a key partner of the PTI in the centre and one of the main political players in Karachi, had called the move an injustice and discrimination on ethnic grounds.

“The MQM-P strongly condemns the decision to appoint non-resident officers as administrators in the cities of Sindh, including Karachi,” the coordination committee of the party had said in a statement.

“What was our demand? Our demand was that the city’s administrator should be a person living in Karachi, someone who is able to understand the woes of the people. Someone who is not politically affiliated with anyone,” said Maqbool during today’s press conference.

“We had the same demand for Hyderabad, Larkana and Sukkur. This is the way to do things in a civilised society. When we expressed our concerns, we were told that it was not appropriate to appoint a separate administrator and that is why the deputy commissioners were given this responsibility.

“If that’s the case, then why wasn’t the Karachi commissioner given this responsibility?” he asked.

Allegations of preferential treatment

Turning his criticism towards the Federal government, he said he was stumped as to why it allowed future development work to be carried out by a “bureaucrat” of the PPP government.

“If you wanted to put Rs1.1 trillion towards the city’s development then you should have done so through those who know Karachi.”

He said that the appointment of the District East administrator was also raising questions. “People say he is under investigation by the National Accountability Bureau for being involved in two projects in District East with Anwar Majeed [Omni Group chairman],” he said.

You deemed such individuals capable but you don’t think Pakhtuns, Punjabis or Urdu speaking are capable, he said.

He said that the party was receiving calls from across the province from concerned citizens, questioning how long the MQM-P would watch the “drama” unfolding. “Why are people of a certain ethnicity being preferred as administrators in the province’s cities?”

Commenting on the Karachi Transformation Plan, he stated that the city generates a yearly revenue of Rs3 trillion. “In three years, this city will have given Rs9 trillion when and if Rs1.1 trillion are spent under the development package.”

He added that the Centre had fulfilled its end of the bargain when it came to certain development projects, but the provincial government had failed. “Won’t we have concerns? They ask us to believe, but we have concerns.

“And after the appointment of these administrators, no one will be able to stop our concerns from changing into a reality,” he added.

“These concerns will exist until those who can relate to the pain and suffering of this city, with credibility and a spotless past [are appointed].” He added that if the party is forced to come onto the roads, it would do so.

Maqbool also lashed out at the federal government for not being stern enough with the provincial government. “They will be absolved of all of their sins, but we are questioned over a few comments,” he said, adding that nobody was concerned about their criminal past.

‘PPP divided Sindh into two pieces’

He added that the PPP had divided Sindh into two separate pieces: “One which spends and one which earns. And you, not us, divided the province into two on ethnic grounds.”

He added that those who oppose the division of the province are the biggest “traitors” because they don’t think of the province as an administrative unit. “Like districts and divisions, a province is also an administrative unit.”

Another central leader of the MQM-P, Wasim Akhtar, had lashed out at the PPP government last month, claiming that it didn’t want development to take place in the city.

“Karachi feeds you and your children. You have set up shop here after coming from different districts. This is Paris for you. I have seen the houses you have purchased in Defence and Clifton,” the Karachi mayor had said.

“Why are you inflicting torture on the people of the city? I have written thousands of letters. I am not joking, the Supreme Court should take notice, the Prime Minister should do something for this city.

“I am not being dramatic. I have spent the last four years stressed because of the Sindh government and the Chief Minister.”