The federal government has needlessly chosen to lock horns with the provincial government in Sindh over Karachi’s garbage problem. This is not to say that the problem is completely insignificant, but the ruling coalition’s decision to insert itself into the equation and consider taking over the administrative affairs of the provincial capital from a democratically elected government is wholly unwarranted.

Article 149 of the constitution, which allows for the centre to “give directions” to a province only extends to preventing a “grave menace to the peace or tranquillity or economic life of Pakistan” and Karachi’s current situation hardly fits the bill. The reason the federal government has made a mountain out of a molehill is not entirely clear; one can only assume that PPP’s autonomy in Sindh is not entirely palatable to the PTI leadership in the centre. This problem does not affect peace or tranquillity in the country, and Karachi’s status as the economic capital of the country also implies that no economic crisis is imminent as a result of the dirty streets. The centre’s government then, is entirely unconstitutional and would not be admissible if the matter gets taken to court.

There is nothing so drastically wrong with Karachi that the democratically elected provincial representatives cannot fix; the PPP government has retained a majority in the province for the past three governments; if the people of Sindh had trusted PTI or MQM to address their problems in the city, they would not have used their right to franchise by voting in PPP once more.

In any case, the central government has no basis for believing that it can do a better job in Karachi – the PTI government’s six-year reign in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a year in the centre have not given us any evidence of an unblemished public service record. The PTI government is already struggling in many matters of state on its own; handing over a city to its stewardship will likely not help the city in any way.

This is yet another instance of PTI taking the confrontational path against other political parties and causing a governmental crisis in the process. There is no need for the centre and provinces to tussle over power when these roles have functioned smoothly under the democratic process for two terms before this. The federation is strongest when it is unified, and the provinces do not believe their rights are being subverted without cause. The blame for this irresponsible and unnecessary confrontation falls squarely at the feet of PTI – it must not get greedy in its bid to govern the country and leave other democratically elected leaders to exercise their mandate as is their right.