‘A balanced city govt is the need of the hour’

‘A balanced city govt is the need of the hour’

‘A balanced city govt is the need of the hour’

Jamaat e Islami (JI) Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman. Image: File

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A graduate of NED University of Engineering and Technology and a Masters in Islamic History, Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman — Jamaat-i-Islami’s vocal Karachi chief — joined student politics through the Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba (IJT), the JI’s student wing, in 1988 and eventually went on to head its affairs in the whole of Pakistan when he assumed the role of the IJT’s Nazim-i-Aala.

Later on he joined the JI and after serving in various party posts, he is currently holding the position of ‘Ameer’ (head) of the Jamaat’s Karachi wing.

The seasoned politician discussed Karachi’s issues threadbare in a recent interview with Bol News.

You have been protesting against the city’s power supplying company [Karachi Electric (KE)] for quite some time now. What is the basis of your protest against it?

I termed the privatization of K-Electric as a fraud. The [then] military ruler of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf, during his reign, had sold the then Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation (KESC) for a meagre amount of Rs16 billion. Later on, after privatization, the KE failed to abide by the promises of enhancing the capacity for generation and transmission, and till date despite [the passage of] 16 years, the people of Karachi are facing severe shortage of electricity. On the other hand the private electric company is availing subsidies provided by the government. So, the main reason of our protest against the KE is that they neither established power plants, nor provided any distribution network, and added insult to injury by suspiciously selling billions of rupees’ worth of copper wire.

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How could the government sort out the problem?

The government should nationalize the KE with immediate effect. And with the inevitable step, a share of 51 per cent of K-Electric would be divided amongst the Centre, the Sindh government and the local government. The remaining 49pc share should be given to private companies for the distribution, transmission and maintenance works, and the government should constitute a stakeholders’ committee to ensure transparency as well. On the other hand, a forensic audit of KE must be done to expose the culprits so that they can be brought to book. Political parties PTI, MQM and the PPP have done nothing credible for the betterment of K-Electric as they have had their share of the bounty.

What about other civic services such as the deteriorating systems of sewerage and
fresh water supply?

The fact is that the PPP’s rule in Sindh is responsible for the chaotic scenario as they have taken over all the civic institutions with centralized powers, and do not believe in the decentralization of the powers of the local bodies. Such a practice is against the Constitution. Nothing substantial has been done for the uplift of Karachi’s infrastructure since the end of the JI-backed Niamatullah Khan’s tenure as mayor. Khan gifted K-3 project to the people of Karachi. The K-4 project still lingers on, and the Sindh government keeps misleading about the project’s completion which is said to be done in the coming two years. Even the Centre is [not honest with] the people of Karachi in this regard. A sum of only Rs15bn had been allocated for the completion of the K-4 project, while some Rs250bn is needed to complete the task.

How can the sewerage problem be solved?

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The unplanned vertical development has ruined the city’s landscape and consequently had blocked the smooth running of the sewerage system. Earlier, only 10 to 12 persons inhabited an area of 1,000 yards, but now, with the erection of high-rise buildings, [many] more people inhabit the area of same measurement, and have consequently choked the sewerage system. On the other hand, the city’s garbage is dumped in the major drains of the city that compounds the misery. The last nail in the coffin was driven when the authorities decided to turn the storm-water drains of the city to sewerage drains, collapsing the entire sewerage system of Karachi. They do not even have the capability to construct S-3 (sewerage treatment plant-3) as well, resultantly the sea shores of the cosmopolitan city have turned into a gutter.

How do you see the current political landscape of Karachi?

The establishment … has always revitalized the down and out political parties such as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The decision makers must remain impartial so that rightful political parties can take charge of affairs. In the 2002 elections, the MQM had lost the general public’s trust, while the Jamaat-i-Islami bagged five seats of the National Assembly. But later on, Gen Musharraf struck a deal with MQM by giving them NRO and pardoned all their wrongdoing.

What is your take on the PPP’s role now?

They should … focus on putting an end to their corrupt practices.

Do you see the local bodies (LB) elections taking place?

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Yes, the LB elections will take place as per the judiciary’s decision. The PPP had tried to create hurdles in [their] way, but I urge the ruling party of Sindh to empower the local bodies, as 25 institutions of the LB are being run by the provincial government. A balanced city government is the need of the hour to run the affairs of the city which is inhabited by 25 million people.

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