There is a growing perception among the people of Karachi that they are being intentionally deprived of their fundamental rights by both the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led Sindh government.
Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal said this on Friday as he addressed a press conference at the party’s headquarters, Pakistan Secretariat, along with some businessmen of the city.
“Although the port city contributes a gigantic 70 per cent revenue to the national exchequer, unfortunately it is the most neglected area of the country. Garbage is not being lifted and disposed of. Essential utilities, such as gas and electricity, are the most expensive [in Karachi] as compared to the rest of Pakistan,” he said, adding that due to the PPP’s conventional politics, the sense of deprivation among the people of Karachi had been growing stronger day by day.
“Loans are advertised for the youth of Sindh but there is a box in it which reads that ‘the people holding domicile of Karachi (urban Sindh) should not try’,” he said.
Kamal was of the view that highly educated candidates from Karachi could not serve the country through the Public Service Commission due to the decades-old quota system. “A son from the same family of rural Sindh succeeds on the rural quota while a daughter from the same family is selected on the urban quota,” he remarked.
The PSP chief said his party had sacrificed a lot to eradicate the menace of linguistic hatred. “I did not raise the slogan of Jag Muhajir Jag for political interests.”
He said he had paid visits to all over Sindh and announced that no power on the earth could divide the province. “When we were not afraid of MQM founder Altaf Hussain, why would we be afraid of anyone else?” Kamal remarked. “If you want to arrest me, do it,” he said.
Billions of rupees were distributed without transparency and no deserving individual got the share, he lamented as he criticised the mechanism of funds’ distribution to the needy segments during the lockdown.
The PSP chief said his party had extended its complete support to the government from the first day of the epidemic. “But no consensus has been reached between the federal and provincial governments as yet,” he stated, adding that both the governments were only doing political point-scoring.
He said the rulers were still asking such questions as whether it was the economy that should be protected or the people. “After two-and-a-half months, I am sure that both the federal and provincial governments are lying, rulers neither want to save human lives nor the economy but only their petty politics.”
Kamal asked whether the government only wanted to save those who were affected by coronavirus. “This should be the responsibility of the state. The state should be like a mother. It was the responsibility of the government to distribute rations amongst citizens, but it is the PSP and a number of NGOs that worked together to distribute rations amongst the needy and white-collar families across the country,” he claimed.
He said millions of small traders of Karachi were not big capitalists and they rather belonged to the middle class but they did employ millions of people. “Clothing merchants and related people earn this month [Ramazan] and manage their whole year. If the PPP was that concerned about people, children in Larkana would not have come to Karachi and died from dog bites. There is no hospital in interior Sindh where they could be treated.”
He was of the view that had the PPP been sincere with Sindh, Larkana would have developed like Paris. “When it comes to Karachi, the whole country is being talked about instead of the city. We are not doing politics, we are conveying the voice of the people [of Karachi] to the rulers.”
The federal and provincial governments are holding separate press conferences with no one implementing the policy on the grassroots level, he said.
According to Kamal, the PSP had repeatedly demanded that the local bodies' representatives be activated to combat the coronavirus challenges, but no one paid attention to this due to the ongoing political tussle in the country.
“Businesses should be open by Monday morning in any case, otherwise traders will be left with no option but to take to the streets and the PSP will support them”, he warned.
He said the traders would ensure the implementation of all the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the government.
He also went on to criticise Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying that the PM himself was elected from Karachi and had several MNAs and MPAs from the city but he did not come to Karachi for a single day during the lockdown.
Criticising the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Kamal said “those who claim to be rulers of the city are taking the oath of federal ministry, leaving the people at the mercy of coronavirus. “It seems that to the MQM-P, the biggest problem of the Muhajir community and the city was to replace Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui with Amin-ul-Haq as the minister.”