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September 21, 2019

Mayor denies arrested former parks DG served as his adviser


September 21, 2019

A day after the National Accountability Bureau arrested former Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) parks director general (DG) Liaquat Ali Qaimkhani over having assets beyond his known sources of income, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar on Friday officially denied that Qaimkhani had served as his adviser on parks.

Speaking to the media outside the Frere Hall, the mayor said there should be some official document to support the allegation that the arrested former KMC parks DG had worked as his adviser. “I only used to seek help from him on the matters regarding the parks when he was the DG parks,” Akhtar said.

Commenting on the arrest of Qaimkhani, the mayor said after he had assumed his office, he appointed Afaq Mirza as the KMC parks DG. “He’s the DG even today.”

Akhtar explained that when he was elected as the mayor, the parks of the KMC were completely destroyed and the corporation was facing difficulty in dealing with the parks. “We didn’t have the expertise for the underground utilities at the parks,” he said. “We didn’t know how the sewage was recycled to be utilised in the parks.”

The mayor said in such circumstances, the KMC had sought help from Qaimkhani as he had the information about the parks infrastructure. He explained that after they had received advices from Qaimkhani, the former parks DG was not involved in the subsequent work and all the work was carried out by the KMC staff.

Akhtar claimed that when the KMC sought help from Qaimkhani, he was a retired officer and neither was he offered any official post then nor any contractual job.

The mayor further explained that the former parks DG’s advice was also sought during the rehabilitation of Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim. He said Qaimkhani had also discussed with him the case against him for which he had to go to Islamabad for interrogation.

Akhtar claimed that the arrest had nothing to do with the KMC. When asked why the KMC had no maps of the city’s parks for which it needed Qaimkhani’s assistance, he replied the former governments should be asked about the miserable state of the city’s parks at the time when he assumed his office.

It may be noted here that the National Accountability Bureau also carried out a raid at the residence of the former parks DG on Thursday, during which it claimed to have seized various valuables, including luxury cars, gold and arms.

Akhtar also talked about his meeting with former Sindh governor Dr Ishratul Ibad during his recent visit to Dubai. “It’s obvious if our paths cross, we will meet. We’ve known each other for a long time,” he said.

He added that the former governor was concerned about the city’s condition and asked about its issues. “Ibad has also handled the port-city. He has also got the experience,” the mayor said. When asked if the former governor was still part of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM–P), Akhtar said he had come to know from the media that Ibad wanted to make a comeback into politics. “Why would he want to come back to his quagmire?” he asked.

To a question if the MQM-P’s top leadership was angry with his meeting with Ibad, the mayor responded that he could not inform the party’s leadership about it as it wasn’t a planned meeting.

The mayor also discussed his meeting with Sindh Local Government Minister Nasir Hussain Shah in which he assured the latter that the KMC would support him for the new cleanliness drive. He said he would support both the federal and provincial governments if they wanted to clean the city.

More than 60 per cent of the city is with the federal government, the mayor remarked. “There are six cantonments, DHA, all federally owned lands of bodies such as the Civil Aviation Authority, Karachi Port Trust, and Pakistan Railways are with the federal government,” he said, adding that the rest 30 per cent of the city was with the Sindh government that comprised six districts of the city.

The mayor said the KMC had control over only a small area of the city. No matter what one says, the administrative control of the districts lies with the local governments, he said. “Only 10 per cent of the city lies with the KMC.” He also asked the federal government to resolve issues in the cantonment areas.

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