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Centre, Sindh to solve issues together

Top Story

August 30, 2020

Centre, Sindh to solve issues together

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said a comprehensive plan was in the making to address the major civic issues confronting Karachi including sewerage, sanitation, and clean drinking water.

Chairing a meeting here to review progress on development projects in the port city, he said directives had been issued to all the federal department departments to provide immediate relief to the people of Karachi affected by the heavy rainfall and urban flooding.

He said the federal government was cognizant of the problems of the people of Sindh, particularly of Karachi, and would play its effective role in mitigating their suffering.

Federal ministers Asad Umar and Murad Saeed and senior government officials attended the meeting. Governor Sindh Imran Ismail joined from Karachi through the video-link and briefed the prime minister on the rescue and relief measures.

The prime minister said a comprehensive plan, aimed at resolving the civic issues of big cities, was being devised in consultation with all stakeholders. He said in his telephonic talk with the Sindh chief minister, he had assured him that the federal government would extend every possible assistance to the province in overcoming the challenges. The prime minister said Karachi was one of the most important cities of the country and pledged to use all resources to address its lingering issues.

Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the federal government along with the Sindh government was moving to immediately act and resolve three major problems of Karachi. These included cleaning of the nullahs once and for all, dealing with encroachments impeding water channels, devising a permanent solution to the solid waste disposal and sewerage problems, and resolving the critical issue of water supply to the citizens of Karachi.

The prime minister said the whole nation felt the pain Karachiites were going through. “However, out of this devastation & suffering, there is now a positive development as my govt, along with the Sindh govt, is moving to immediately act & resolve 3 major problems of Karachi,” he posted.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah presided over a meeting at the CM House to review the post-rain situation in all the districts, including Karachi. The meeting was attended by Revenue Minister Makhdoom Mahboob, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Chairman P&D Waseem, Senior Member Board of Revenue Qazi Shahid Parvez, Principal Secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro, Karachi’s Commissioner Sohail Rajput, all deputy commissioners of Karachi division.

The divisional commissioners of other divisions of the province attended the meeting through the video link. The chief minister lashed out at the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and other government departments over the deteriorated situation in the port city. He asked why the KMC’s Urban Disaster Response Unit was not at the forefront in cleaning up the city after the heavy downpour.

“KMC's Urban Disaster Response Unit does not appear to be active. Those involved in the cleanup should be made to wear specific jackets so that the public knows that the government is working,” he said. He also directed the departments concerned to pinpoint areas where the flow of water could stopped. “If any building is obstructing the flow of water, bulldoze it whether it is public or private. We have to fix the city no matter how drastic the measures we have to take,” Shah noted.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the Planning and Development Department and Board of Revenue to survey the damages caused to the infrastructure, homes and crops due to heavy monsoon rains in the province so that rehabilitation of road network could be undertaken immediately and compensation could be awarded for the damaged houses. The chief minister immediately released Rs5 million to each deputy commissioner in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Mirpurkhas divisions for pumping out rainwater and other similar works.

Murad Shah directed immediate repair of the road network in Karachi before another rain spell. He directed the chairman P&D to call Project Director Karachi and ask him to start repair work in this regard. “I have directed all the deputy commissioners of the city to conduct a survey of the damaged road, nullahs, streets, and gutters and submit the same to chairman P&D for necessary estimates and approval so that work could be started,” he said. The chief minister said that almost all the major roads in the city had been cleaned but the deputy commissioners were facing a shortage of workers and manpower to clean the streets,” he said.

To a question, Karachi’s Commissioner Sohail Rajput told the chief minister that the route of Muharram processions had been cleared of rainwater but there was still lot of water accumulated at the Tower. The chief minister directed the commissioner to depute special workers’ teams and clear the entire route of the procession.

The chief minister was told that almost all the main arteries of the city have been cleared except the streets, villages and localities established along the embankments of Gujar Nullah, Malir River, and Sukkur River.

The chief minister was told that District West had six sub-divisions where several properties had been damaged in Gulshan-e-Ghazi, Block-6, Mominabad, Surjani, Dil Murad Mohallah, Rahimdad Goth, Sindhi Para, Bangali Para, Bismillah colony, Juma Shah Goth, Dehhalkani, Zodo Goth, and Juma Goth, which have been addressed to some extent. The DC said houses in Zodo Goth and Juma Goth had submerged. The chief minister directed him to conduct a survey of the damages and submit them to the P&D and SMBR office.

Deputy Commissioner Central Sohail Odho told the chief minister that the roads damaged in his district included Sher Shah Suri Road to Golimar, Shershah Noor Jehan Road, Shahrah-e-Pakistan to Teen Hatti to Sohrab Goth, Water Pump road to Peoples Chowrangi and Mianwali Link Road, Lucky One to Anda Mor, roads around Nagan Chowrangi, KDA Chowrangi, Ziauddin Chowrangi, Sakhi Hassan Chowrangi, 4k Chowrangi, Power house Chowrangi, Karimabad Chowrangi, Landi Kotal, New Karachi 7000/9000 nullah road, Allah Wali, Nullah Stop, three underpasses road in Liaquatabad, Nazimabad, sub-division and others have been damaged due to urban flooding caused by heavy rains.

Deputy Commissioner South Irash Sodhar told the chief minister that all the major nullahs in District South discharged into the sea in the South district; therefore, the water, which accumulated in the South area was disposed of with difficulty.

DC Korangi told the chief minister that the nullah on Ibrahim Hyderi road had encroachments where a college administration had constructed a car parking, otherwise, Korangi and Landhi had been cleared. The chief minister was told that some streets had water, which was being cleared.

DC Malir Ganhwar Leghari said the main roads, including industrial areas of his district, had been cleared; however, some villages located on the nullahs had submerged. He assured the chief minister that he would give a detailed report on the nullahs and of the damaged roads and houses within three days to the P&D department.

The DC East told the chief minister that all the main roads in the district had been cleared but some rainwater had remained at Nipa Chowrangi, which was being pumped out. The chief minister directed all the deputy commissioners to clear all the streets and report to him.

The meeting also discussed prolonged power failure in the city against which people had started staging protests. The commissioner said K. Electric had 1,900 feeders in the city of which 1,730 had been restored while the remaining were yet to be restored.

The chief minister said the major areas in DHA were without electricity. The chief minister was told that most of the streets were inundated. The KE could not restore electricity in the area where water was stagnant, the chief minister was apprised.

In a related development, the Sindh government has declared 20 districts across the province calamity-hit. All districts in Karachi Division have been declared calamity-hit. The list includes nine districts of Hyderabad Division and three of Mirpur Khas Division. Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar, Badin, Thatta, Sujawal, Tando Mohammad Khan, Jamshoro, Tando Allahyar, Matiari and Dadu districts were also been declared calamity-hit areas.

Meanwhile, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has directed the Sindh ministers to stay out on the streets until the last drop of rainwater was pumped out from every city, town, and village of the province.

Speaking to the Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Minister for Local Government Nasir Hussain Shah and Minister for Public Health Engineering Mir Shabbir Ali Bijarani over phone, Bilawal appreciated the provincial cabinet members for working on the ground through a better coordination. Nasir Shah apprised Bilawal of the areas cleared of rainwater in Karachi, Hyderabad, Larkana, Sukkur, and Mirpurkhas adding that the operations were in full swing everywhere in the province.

Shabbir Ali Bijarani told the PPP chairman that drainage was slow in different parts of the province due to the overflowing irrigation system. However, he said, all available resources were being used to pump out the rainwater. Bilawal directed the chief minister and the provincial cabinet ministers to assess the damage so that timely rehabilitation could be carried out.

He also expressed deep grief and sorrow over the losses of human lives in Sindh and all over the country and asked the federal and provincial governments to announce adequate compensations for the victims, who had lost their near and dear ones, and for those who had lost their livelihoods.

Meanwhile, the PPP chairman expressed grave concern over the situation in Gilgit-Baltistan where the Karakorum Highway was blocked near Tatta Pani and Lal Pari areas in Diamer district due to flash floods and landslides following torrential rains.

In a statement, he said media reports from Gilgit-Baltistan were scarce possibly due to intermittent communication breakdowns and urged the federal government to activate the NDMA and other rescue and rehabilitation departments to safeguard people and infrastructure in the region.

Bilawal pointed out that a tunnel built on the Karakorum Highway for protecting commuters had developed cracks and may collapse if immediate steps were not taken to repair it. He said floods and ensuing landslides had reportedly killed a number of people, including a tourist in Chilas and other areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, while standing crops and orchids had also been washed away in Diamer and other districts. He asked the federal as well as the GB governments to utilize all available resources to help out the citizens and warned that his party won’t allow the government to ignore the suffering of citizens.

Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi Saturday said cooperation between the federal and Sindh government was a positive development, which could do wonders not only during the current obtaining crisis due to heavy downpour, but would also be helpful in the future planning.

In a tweet, he said, “A positive development. Cooperation between the Fed & Prov Govts can do wonders during this devastating crisis & also in the future in making of Storm Drains, Sewage Treatment, Solid Waste Management, Fresh Water Supply & Transport. Karachi & rest of Sindh will never be left alone.”

Earlier, in series of tweets, the prime minister announced that the federal government along with the Sindh government was moving to immediately act and resolve three major problems of Karachi.

These included cleaning of nullahs once and for all, dealing with encroachments impeding water channels, devising a permanent solution to the solid waste disposal & sewerage problems, and resolving the critical issue of water supply to the residents of Karachi.


US military refuses to play role in presidential vote

By News report

WASHINGTON: The US armed forces will have no role in carrying out the election process or resolving a disputed vote, the top US military officer told Congress in comments released Friday.

The comments from Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, underscore the extraordinary political environment in America, where the president has declared without evidence that the expected surge in mail-in ballots will make the vote “inaccurate and fraudulent,” and has suggested he might not accept the election results if he loses, foreign media reported.

The CJCS said the military won't help settle any disputes if the results are contested.

"The Constitution and laws of the US and the states establish procedures for carrying out elections, and for resolving disputes over the outcome of elections ... I do not see the US military as part of this process," Milley said in a letter released on Friday responding to questions from two members of the House Armed Services Committee.

"In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law US courts and the US Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the US Military," Milley added.

Trump’s repeated complaints questioning the election’s validity have triggered unprecedented worries about the potential for chaos surrounding the election results. Some have speculated that the military might be called upon to get involved, either by Trump trying to use it to help his reelection prospects or as, Democratic challenger Joe Biden has suggested, to remove Trump from the White House if he refuses to accept defeat. The military has adamantly sought to tamp down that speculation and is zealously protective of its historically nonpartisan nature.

“I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical US military,” Milley said in written responses to several questions posed by two Democratic members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Milley’s tone reflects the longstanding views of military leaders who insist that the nation’s military stays out of politics and that troops are sworn to protect the country and uphold the Constitution.

But the two Congress members, Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, said Friday that Trump’s recent comments and his efforts to use the military to quell protests have fueled their concerns. The two lawmakers released Milley’s answers.

Faced with polls showing he is trailing Biden, Trump last month said it was too early to guarantee he’d accept the election results.

“I have to see. Look ... I have to see,” Trump said on “Fox News Sunday.” “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no.” The Biden campaign at the time responded that “the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”

Trump later suggested that the election should be postponed, since the coronavirus pandemic has made it likely it could take days or weeks to count mail-in ballots. But that idea was immediately slapped down, including by top congressional Republicans, since the election date can only be changed by Congress.

Milley, known to be a student of military and constitutional history, anchored many of his responses in the nation’s founding document. Asked if the military would refuse an order from the president if he was attempting to use military action for political gain rather than national security, Milley said, “I will not follow an unlawful order.”

The speculation about the military getting drawn into the election is fueled by Trump’s inclination to use the military as partisan props. He raised alarms — and met resistance from the Pentagon — when he threatened to use the Insurrection Act to use troops for law enforcement during the protests after George Floyd’s death. Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly said he opposed such a move —- a stand that enraged Trump and nearly cost Esper his job.

The questions were also sent to Esper, and the answers were due Thursday, but Slotkin said he has not yet responded. Slotkin is a former CIA analyst and senior Pentagon policy adviser and Sherrill served in the Navy for about 10 years.

This is the second time in recent months that Milley has made a public stand against military involvement in politics. In June he used a speech at the National Defense University to express regret for walking with Trump through Lafayette Square in what turned out to be a photo op during public protests after the death of George Floyd.

He said photos of him there “sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society.” And he told the military audience, “we must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our republic.”