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August 22, 2019

Blame game over Karachi’s mess heats up as PSP joins the fray


August 22, 2019

A day after Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and the Sindh chief minister’s adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab traded barbs over the general failure in dealing with the disastrous aftermath of the recent spell of monsoon rains in the city, the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) joined the fray.

Addressing a news conference at the PSP headquarters Pakistan House on Wednesday, the former mayor Mustafa Kamal-led party held the incumbent mayor responsible for the destruction caused across the city.

To express support for their party’s mayor, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) also held a news conference, saying that the allegations levelled against Akhtar are mainly to benefit the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that has all the powers and resources for dealing with the affairs of water, sewerage and solid waste.

As for Akhtar, he held a separate news conference to respond to the PSP chief’s allegations, saying that he (the mayor) is inundated with several responsibilities, but now he has to waste his time on Kamal.

Exit control list

PSP Chairman Kamal demanded in the news conference that Mayor Akhtar’s name be put on the exit control list. “The mayor has made a lot of property in Pakistan and abroad, and a great deal of money will be recovered if he is held accountable.”

The party’s senior leaders Anis Qaimkhani, Asif Hasnain and Syed Hafeezuddin were also present on the occasion. Kamal said water has not been drained out from houses even after two weeks, and the piles of garbage are being shifted from one place to another without being properly disposed of.

The former mayor said Karachi’s money has been spent on cleaning up the entire country, but the city has been left asking for money from the federal government for cleanliness and sanitation.

He claimed that he had talked to the prime minister and the Sindh chief minister but no one is paying attention to Karachi’s issues. He requested army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to visit the city and resolve the people’s problems on an emergency basis.

“We demand that Bajwa impose an emergency in Karachi and accord the city a special status,” said the PSP chief, adding that the mayor still has 80 per cent of the powers to lift garbage in the city.

Criticising federal minister Ali Zaidi’s campaign to clean up Karachi, the former mayor said they are dumping waste collected under the drive onto the roads instead of properly disposing it of at the designated landfill sites.

Joint strategy

In an apparent reaction to the PSP’s news conference, MQM-P leaders held one of their own at their party’s temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad to express support for Mayor Akhtar.

Khawaja Izharul Hassan, Faisal Subzwari and the MQM-P’s central leaders said that instead of blaming one other, all the stakeholders of the city should sit and formulate a strategy to resolve the city’s issues.

Without naming the PSP chairman, MPA Hassan said that through levelling allegations against Mayor Akhtar, some forces are benefitting the PPP’s Sindh government, which is actually responsible for all the mess in the city.

“Why didn’t they ask the Sindh chief minister, who holds all the powers and resources, to resign from his post after failing to resolve the city’s civic issues?”

Subzwari said the mayor has limited powers and resources to run the entire city. “The PPP’s Sindh government gives money to the city municipality by considering it charity. They did not increase a single drop of water in their 11-year rule.”

‘Rejected personality’

Addressing a news conference at his camp office at the Frere Hall, Mayor Akhtar said Kamal said bad things about the National Accountability Bureau’s chief, but when he found out that another case was going to be opened against him, he apologised.

The mayor said he had to go and look after the clean-up work in Korangi. “I wasn’t in the mood to respond [to Kamal], but [now] he has to mend his ways.”

He asked what Kamal’s status is in the city. “He is a rejected personality,” he said, adding that the former mayor had run away from the city and was brought back by the ears. Akhtar said that when Kamal ran away, he was a grade-four employee at the Karachi Medical & Dental College, adding that the former mayor made his file disappear from the college administrator’s records. The mayor said that there is also a master file that he possesses. “I have all his records. He was a servant there in the year 2000,” he said, adding that Kamal had run for the elections after lying to the election commission.

Akhtar said the MQM helped Kamal participate in the polls, as before that he was a clerk at the fisheries and an operator at the party’s headquarters Nine Zero. “[MQM founder] Altaf Hussain plucked him unripe and bestowed respect on him,” he said, adding that Kamal’s videos are everywhere in which he can be heard swearing at officials and staff members.

Referring to the former mayor’s development projects, Akhtar said the city does not need underpasses or bridges, but it needs a sewerage system. “We need K-IV,” he said, adding that Kamal spent all the money on bridges and underpasses.

The mayor said that today if someone asks Kamal if he was just a lab attendant and Hussain gave him a house and the party gave him clothes, he acknowledges those facts. “How is it that now he has two houses and land cruisers. Where is all the money coming from?” said the mayor, claiming that all the parks and grounds that were encroached across the city were done in Kamal’s time.

“The city has totally rejected him. He could not get even one of his party members elected as councillors,” he said, adding that now all of Kamal’s efforts are directed towards wooing the people of Karachi for the upcoming local government elections, which Akhtar predicted, he would fail miserably.

The mayor requested the government not to put Kamal’s name on the ECL, because he said that Kamal would need to leave the country after losing the polls. All those who had joined Kamal have almost left him because of his attitude, said Akhtar, adding that Hussain spoiled him by empowering him. He believes whatever pressure that is being generated against the Sindh government for empowering the KMC by taking the Centre and the FWO on board, Kamal wants to destroy all of that.

We demand that [army chief Qamar Javed] Bajwa impose an emergency in Karachi and accord the city a special status. Akhtar still has 80 per cent of the powers to lift garbage in the city

— Mustafa Kamal, PSP chairman

I request the government not to put Kamal’s name on the exit control list, because the former mayor would need to leave the country after losing the local government elections

— Wasim Akhtar, Karachi mayor