KARACHI   -   Politicians are arrested and harassed despite the fact that they served this country and steered it out of serious crises, says Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.

“This is a deplorable situation and we must respect politicians for their services. It is the people of this country who filter these politicians out through ballot when they fail to deliver or serve them,” Shah said late on Friday night while delivering his presidential address at the annual dinner hosted by the Karachi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) at Golf Club. He was accompanied by his cabinet members, Saeed Ghani and Murtaza Wahab.

The chief minister said that politicians have always served this country through political vision and collective wisdom. “This is why the financial crisis has never been so serious as it is today. There is a lack political decisions and wisdom today,” he said. In the history of Pakistan, he said, revenue recoveries increased with every passing year, but this year these recoveries decreased compared to the last year. “Who suffered?” he asked and then replied himself, the province. The development portfolio was badly affected, he said.

Shah said that he was pressing the federal government to hand over the task of collection of sales tax to the province because provincial governments were close to consumers.

 “We will collect sales tax on your behalf and will return it to you,” he said and added this would increase revenue collection many times.

The chief minister said that due to the federal government’s policies, production of industrial units has dropped, unemployment is increasing and unrest has increased in all segment of the society whether industrialists, government employees, businessmen, labourers, transporters or bankers. “You consider everyone thief, but you have taken away everything from people as Chowkidar of this country,” he said.

“You (PTI leadership) were claiming that there was an annual tax theft of $200 billion in Pakistan. When you would come into power you would recover the stolen taxes and repay the loans. Now you have failed to collect even regular taxes what to talk about recovery of stolen taxes,” he said. Criticising the federal government, the chief minister said PTI leaders were saying that Rs500 billion were being laundered every month. “Look at this person, he doesn’t know how much Rs500 billion is and how such a huge amount can be laundered regularly,” he said.

The chief minister said that people of ‘defeated minds’ keep signing the song that the PPP government in Sindh had ignored Karachi. “This hurts me seriously. They feel so as they are residents of this city. I was born here, grew up here, received education here and played in the streets of this beautiful city,” he said. In Korangi District, he said, the PPP did not get votes in general elections. “No issue! It is up to people of this city to decide who is fit to have their mandate, but what we have done is an open secret,” he said.  Shah said the PPP did not bag votes in Quaidabad, but it built Manzil Pump Bridge and Malir 15 Bridge and reconstructed and widened Shahra-i-Faisal. It remodelled Baloch Colony Flyover though people of Baloch Colony did not vote for the PPP, he said. He said that people of Gulshan-i-Iqbal did not give votes to the PPP but the PPP government in Sindh reconstructed roads from Hassan Square to Nipa and then from NED to Safora Goth. He said the PPP government constructed roads leading to Memon Hospital, but it did not receive votes from there. “If I start counting development works the PPP government has done or is doing in this city, it would take me a long time to count,” he said and added every citizen was witness to the performance of his government.

The chief minister said it was his romance with the city that all the time he was working for development, beautification and cleaning of this city. “I am sure one day people would appreciate PPP’s performance and completely reject those who had given them bodies in gunny bags, who destroyed future of their children and those who had taken them hostage through empty slogans,” he said.

DEVELOPMENT FUNDS FOR KMC

The provincial government keeps giving Rs15 billion to KMC for development and it was his government, which paid power bills of KMC and Water Board. He went on to say that he had given Rs550 million to KMC to clean rainwater drains and even then some people were accusing him of ignoring Karachi, he said.

Shah said he and his party had always been above any kind of discrimination; it was someone else who had sown the seeds of hatred in this city where people of different religions, languages and sects were living peacefully, trade and industries were flourishing and education and cultural activities were thriving. “Instead of feeling ashamed of yourselves, you are levelling baseless allegations against others,” he said. He said that you (MQM) were coalition partners of the federal government and the prime minister announced a Rs165 billion package for the city. “Where has that money gone?” he asked.

SHIFTING THE BLAME

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that lifting garbage and cleaning the city was the basic job of the DMCs and other concerned civic agencies but the blame was being shifted to the Sindh government.

“Finally, I decided to intervene and started lifting garbage so that this city can be made neat and clean once for all. I am surprised this is not acceptable to people of defeated minds,” he said and added they have started stuffing stones into main sewer lines so that sewerage lines spill over.

He said he has imposed section 144 to curb open littering and throwing garbage and some arrests have been made by the police. “Neither you want to work nor let other work,” this is your policy which has exposed you in the eyes of people of this city.

The chief minister said that under the PPP government the provincial government has constructed the longest bridge on the River Indus and constructed two important roads, Thatta-Karachi and Hyderabad Mirpurkhas roads. Now the PPP is constructing Malir Expressway, he said. He proudly said the PPP unit of the provincial government and its policies have been acclaimed by the leading international magazine ‘The Economist’ in its special issue.