The Solution of Karachi’s fiasco

By Syed Atiq ul Hassan

An ordinary mind can understand that a system which has been built on divisions, discriminations, and corruptions cannot be fixed by targeted operations, reshuffling of administration’s heads, and reallocating powers from one law enforcement agency to another.

Indeed, Karachi’s problems are multidimensional today but the root-cause remains the 40 years old unjust and corrupt system. The seeds of this system were sown by the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s PPP government through the implementation of Quota System in the government jobs and higher/ professional educational institutes dividing Sindh on linguistic demographic on the name of providing opportunities to the people of rural areas. Karachi’s problem is an administration failure due to corrupt and incompetent officers working almost in every government departments including judiciary and police. This corrupt system and its management contain prejudiced, racists and incompetent officers who are the product of corrupt politicized system not only in Karachi but in across Sindh and this Quota System played a vital role beside other elements of an unjust system.

How come these major key political parties, PPP, PML (N), MQM and ANP who have been playing blame game on each other until few months back and now singing a chorus of bringing peace in Karachi? My response is very simple to understand is that these political organs in Karachi of ruling force have been failed to provide peace and harmony to the citizens of Karachi because they are the part of the problems. Whenever, people of Karachi in particular and people of Sindh in general trusted them they betrayed them more badly. This corrupt, unjust, and radicalized system suits them to maintain their magnitude in their territories in Karachi as well as in Sindh.

From PML (N) government’s operation of 1992 in Karachi that gifted extra-judicial killings of hundreds of citizens of Karachi and helped MQM to be a party of victims to Benazir Bhutto’s operation clean-up led by Naseerullah Babar that also ended with thousands of arrests and hundreds of extra-judiciary killings and made MQM to be the ultimate voice of Urdu-speaking; and then almost 10 years of rule of MQM in Karachi and other urban areas of Sindh in General Musharraf’s era in which MQM organized and equipped themselves to be another powerful political force in Sindh; the only sufferers are the people of Karachi in particular and the people of Sind in general. These political parties and their leaders became stronger and stronger and the people and the city of Karachi in particular from bad to worst. In the last 30 years or so the people of Karachi have now forgotten their original demands like demolishing quota system, provide better transport, jobs, health, education etc and now they are begging for their lives.

How Karachi came on this stage? The reasons are simple that these political parties have always put up their vested interest first and peoples’ interest at the end. PPP a party of the landlords in Sindh could not change the life of an ordinary Sindhi in rural Sindh; MQM a party that was created on the name of fighting for the basic rights to the Urdu-speaking of Sindh could not succeed even to abandon quota system, PML (N) who failed to maintain any mandate in Sindh always ready to use force to deal with the issues; and a Karachi wing of ANP which could not deliver anything for the betterment of hardworking Pushtoon labours in Karachi except exploiting them on the name of Pushtoon Quom (nation); they all are now shaking-hands and appearing as sympathizers of people of Karachi in press conferences and TV talk-shows because they have now nothing else to do or say to the people of Karachi.

Without any regret on their past failures and without any shame on regularly extending the most controversial and discriminative quota system and also without making any promise to discard from its roots this unjust and corrupt system in Sindh; again the same key political players and ruling heads are talking about the solution of Karachi’s fiasco, many meetings were held by the Prime Ministers, calling people from different walk of life and different political organs at the Governor house; the claims, at the end of 2-days activities, were that a new strategy has been designed and within two days operation would be commenced against the people involved in heinous crimes in Karachi that means the criminals have two days to fly from Karachi or hide in their safe homes – what a joke. Mr. Nawaz Sharif, who is running PML (N) like a property limited company – himself being Prime Minister and brother being the Chief Minister of Punjab and other family members at various important portfolios in the government – is talking about fair and equal system for everyone. Do these people ever feel any guilt on what they say and what they do? At the end of the 2-days engagements of the Prime Minister in Karachi a notification was released in order to replace existing Inspector General of Karachi by assumably an honest Police officer, but within minutes this notification was withdrawn. The minister of the ruling party in Sindh (PPP) said his government had reservations, the reality was that even he was honest but not accepted because he was from Punjab. These key political players in Sindh have politicized the entire government machinery, the administration and the provincial government system. The Provincial Government System is in the hands of political leaders, prejudiced ministers and corrupt bureaucracy, they blackmail each other, threat each other and demand from each other on the appointments of key administrative and government positions.

Running a government system using unjust and unfair means create corrupt and incompetent administration and this has what been happening in Sindh for the last 40 years or so. There is such an unbelievable corruption in Police, Income Tax, KDA, Custom, KPT, PIA, Karachi Steel, Semi-Government organizations, Local Governments and Judiciary System that an honest person cannot survive to work there. A father cannot make a birth certificate of his new born child without paying bribe to a council’s clerk, so how can you provide justice, fairness and a clean environment to that child to grow and be a responsible citizen of the state. A city where no jobs for educated youth, no safety for an ordinary citizen in the house or on roads and where bread is expensive than a bullet how can you expect peace and harmony in there and how can targeted operations and raids can resolve the problems. How can you control those attackers who possess the most modern weapon than police and rangers have? It is being claimed by the government that 15 to 20 killings per day in Karachi are being done by Taliban and other banned organizations therefore it is not easy to control them with the existing police capabilities. Yes, that is true, how can you control terrorists by this police which are the production of corrupt system and how can you punish them and send behind bars when your judiciary system is corrupt. The fact of the matter is that the corrupt police officers and other high profile people in Sindh Governments are the part of the land mafia and gang mafia, they are involved in settling these criminals on unauthorized lands in Karachi. There are heaps of cases of overseas Pakistanis that their properties in Karachi were sold in their absence using fake documents by land mafia people who have network with government officials to the people coming from northern parts of Pakistan. Today, many volatile areas in the outskirts of Karachi are populated with criminals and gangsters, they are involved in most of the illegal businesses and they are providing shelters to terrorists groups in exchange of heavy money, this money goes from bottom to top figures in various government departments. If these criminals and other terrorists’ groups are in action in those areas with the local gangsters & killers then how come the law enforcement agencies were unable to control them, the answer is simple that majority of them are part of the problem not part of the solution. That is why; these targeted and clean-up operations have failed in the past and will fail again and again until the entire system is purified from corruption and unjust means. But the most danger scenario now is that these gangsters have deeply established links with the powerful political and their militant wings and the chances are that if rangers attack them they will repulse badly and that may lead to a gorilla-war type situation in those areas which perhaps may be the ultimate plan of the elements behinds these gangsters in Karachi.

Karachi’s Solution: Now talking about the solution of these problems; in 1986, I had written on the solutions of peace in Sind in the scenario of that time and sent to many politicians of Sindh including Altaf Hussain and then in the last 30 years or so I have written in English & Urdu time to time which have been published in various times, similarly, I have discussed on the subject in my Radio shows in Sydney, anyway, the solution is not very complicated as in today’s world one can see the system of any international developed city and that can be a model for Karachi. However, the issue here is that one has to look the solution putting all political affiliation aside and think patriotically and justice. Here is my 10-point manifesto for Karachi:

1)      There should be ‘Karachi Police Authority’ (KPA) headed by a Police Commissioner. All police appointments including Police Commissioner in KPA must be from Karachi and entire recruitment should be done through a fair and clean merit system. KPA should then introduce a Local Community Police System like running in most of the international metropolitan cities. This will control small to heinous crimes happening at present.

2)       All the entrance to the city of Karachi must have police check-points equipped with latest monitoring system and operated by Karachi Security Police and that should be a part of KPA. Every non-citizen of Karachi entering Karachi must be registered in KPA system.

3)       The City of Karachi should have an independent ‘City Government System’. The head of city government should be the mayor of the City of Karachi (the system is running at present but it is a handicapped and incapable system to deliver the needs of the people of Karachi). The City of Karachi must have an effective and independent local body system. All local bodies should have more powers and budgets so that development, public transport, health education should be running under local bodies. All the international and successful cities of the world are those cities today those have a powerful local bodies system.

4)      The power of Karachi’s Mayor is equal to the Chief Minister of the Province who should make the decision independently without the pressure from any provincial or federal. The Mayor of the city should be treated like a father of the city and must be elected through a local bodies system in a democratic process.

5)      The City of Karachi should have a ‘Local City Court System’. In suburb or local council there should be a local city court under the local body system – like in every international city of the developed countries. These courts should be independent and deal with local disputes and crimes. All the staff of these courts should be appointed on merit but from the local permanent citizens.

6)      To provide better opportunities and incentives to the members of business and industries, a city tax should be introduced on businesses and industries operators/owners. The revenue generated from this tax should be spent on the infrastructural development of Karachi especially on roads, highways, under-passes, local train/tram, parks & reserves, sports centres, beaches, tourism attractions and so on. Karachi cannot bear that 60 percent revenue is generated from this city and the rest of the province and country enjoy on that revenue. It is to be ensured that whatever is earning from Karachi is spending on this city if we have to see Pakistan growing as Karachi is the main blood vessel of Pakistan.

7)      The major parts of Karachi city budget must be allocated from provincial government and some part by the federal government as Karachi feeds the province and the country. There should be no interference of provincial or federal government on the spending from the budget and it should be the sole discretion of the City Government.

8)      The City of Karachi should have a ‘City Security Council’ which should consist of the top officials like; Karachi Mayor, Karachi Police Commissioner, Inspector General Police, Chief Minister and the Governor; this high command body should act promptly and make ultimate decision if the city faces any man-made or natural crises. The council should have direct link and access with the Prime Minister and President of Pakistan for any important and emergency consultation.

9)      Ideally, the quota system of Sindh Urban & Sindh Rural should be abandon which would automatically abolish the existing discrimination between the people of Sindh. However, it the ruling powers don’t want to abolish quota system and the people of Sindh don’t have courage to stand up against this biased system the at least all the appointments in city government of Karachi and admissions in higher education/professional institutes should be made on pure merits.

10)   The appointments, transfers, and promotions in the federal institutes in Karachi for example; KPT, PIA, Shipping Authority, must be done on merits through a proper qualifying system on all Pakistan-basis.

The customized version of above manifesto can also be implemented in other cities of Pakistan provided the rulers of Pakistan really want to see Pakistan in the list of democratic and free society. (The writer was born in Hyderabad Sindh and possess his own deep life experience on issues he has highlighted in this write-up being grown-up in urban areas of Sindh).

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