Due to the lack of Consumer Courts and the lack of enforcement of PSQCA laws, our markets are flooded with counterfeit, substandard and lookalike products and callous manufacturers use old rusted tins and discarded branded empty water bottles to pack these products and cheat the consumers.

Manufacturers claim that they are committed to providing consumers products of the highest quality and standards, which could confidently meet the challenges of the WTO regime.

However, though some manufacturers, especially the multinational companies do conform to WTO quality and standards, many companies fail to do so and even do not comply with the PSQCA quality standards.

The Consumer Protection Law was unanimously approved and passed by the Sindh Assembly on 20th February, 2015 and then signed by the Sindh Governor, but unfortunately Consumer Courts, that would make the law effective, have still not been set up.

Sadly, we, the citizens, are to be held responsible for this sorry state of affairs, as we have no concept of respecting the rule of law or for demanding quality and standards.

At the same time, Karachi was once known as the City of Lights, but over the years it has become a neglected city, due to which, it has turned in to a slum. The lack of proper drainage system during the rains, open manholes, uncollected garbage, broken roads and rubble, etc., have exposed the shortcomings of the civic agencies, which seem to be on the brink of collapse.

The print and electronic media have shown pictures of snapped electric cables which have killed innocent citizens, over flowing gutters and flooded and broken roads, traffic jams and overcrowded buses.

Even housing societies like KDA, Clifton and DHA, which are under army administration, are in a deplorable condition. Main roads and streets and commercial areas are all full of potholes, overflowing gutters, open manholes and blatant encroachments. And now DHA has proudly announced the launch of Creek City, a 1000-apartment complex, in spite of the fact that it has failed to provide adequate civic facilities to its existing phases.

We have witnessed riots in various areas of Karachi due to power breakdowns, water shortages and death and illnesses due to contaminated water. But unfortunately it seems that it is not easy to shame the shameless, as not a single administrator of these agencies has offered an apology or an explanation.

The various administrators and heads of these agencies must be using these roads and seeing the pictures, but it seems that these officers and gentlemen are totally unmoved by the plight and suffering of the citizens due to their mismanagement. In any other civilized country, immediate cognizance would have been taken to improve the services of these agencies. But in Pakistan, this is of course never done.

Corruption, mismanagement, misuse and abuse of authority and bad governance have become our way and part of life. And yet we still lack the moral strength to openly and collectively condemn and punish those responsible for the sorry state of our city.

Due to the total disregard for laws and the failure of the government to enforce the existing laws, our society has become lawless. Whether it is law and order, food, drugs, traffic or buildings laws, all are violated with impunity and without fear of punishment. Large-scale corruption, abuse of authority, poverty and illiteracy have isolated the citizens from participating in governance.

But in other countries, in spite of these negative factors, the intelligentsia has played its due role and forced governments to introduce changes in governance, so as to improve the quality of life of the citizens. So what is it that we lack or have failed to understand and accept? Have our moral values and ethics also been corrupted and totally distorted, thus making us complacent and as guilty?

Unfortunately, our most glaring misfortune is the absence of an intellectual community and we lack accountability and transparency and have a culture of silence. In Pakistan the role of our intelligentsia is limited and restricted to being the armchair critics and writers and none are willing to take a stand on issues of civic importance.

However, due to the initiative taken by Helpline Trust, PSQCA has suspended the licences of 10 ghee and cooking oil manufactures for not conforming to PSQCA standards. 

The PSQCA team also seized 26 illegal and non-licenced factories and plants that were selling substandard bottled water. A statement says the PSQCA team, along with its mobile laboratory, visited various areas including Hub, Rohri, Sukkur, Hyderabad and Karachi, and took over a 100 samples out of which 10 were found to be conforming.

According to PSQCA report, some of these were Khajoor cooking oil, Rehsam Banaspati, Absa cooking oil and Absa banaspati, Kisan banaspati, Kisan canola oil, Andaz cooking oil, Moulvi cooking oil, Rima cooking oil and banaspati, etc.

Names of some of the bottled water are: Naafey bottled drinking water, Aqua bottled drinking water, Amaya bottled drinking water, PITS Pure drinking water, Al-Mewat Safe water safe life, Al-Huda bottled drinking water, Crystal bottled drinking water, Bismillah mineral water, Ab-e-Sihat bottled drinking water, Hydronium bottled drinking water, Aqua Zam bottled drinking water, Agha Bottled drinking water, Dua bottled drinking water, etc.

Therefore, in order to allow consumers to take direct action against manufacturers who try and cheat them, it is important that the Sindh Government establishes Consumer Courts at district level in Sindh, so that the consumers are protected from being cheated.

(Email: trust@helplinetrust.org.pk).