Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Khurram Sher Zaman slammed the Sindh government on Saturday over the mayhem gripping Karachi in the aftermath of a heavy downpour on the previous day, and demanded an audit of Rs1 billion provided by the World Bank for cleaning the city’s nullahs.
As the metropolis saw its hottest day in 62 years on Friday, the day’s downpour only exacerbated their misery. Amid heavy rainfall, the port city witnessed never-ending power cuts, flooded roads, traffic jams, a wall collapse and at least two electrocution deaths.
Meanwhile, Sindh Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah had ordered emergency measures to deal with the downpour’s consequences.
Addressing a press conference, Zaman pointed out that the entire city was submerged in rainwater just half an hour into the rain, lamenting that “while the residents of other cities enjoyed rain, Karachiites have to pray for it to stop.”
The PTI leader questioned where the funds allocated for cleaning nullahs were being spent and alleged that they were embezzled.
“It is a [matter of] shame for our country that the funds provided for cleaning rainwater drains, too, have been embezzled,” he remarked, holding the Sindh government and Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar responsible for the city’s derelict condition following the second spell of monsoon rain this year.
“Our political ally, Akhtar, is also answerable on the expenditure of funds [set aside for nullahs’ cleaning],” he remarked.
He noted that Gujjar nullah, Mehmoodabad nullah, Sherpao nullah, Orangi Town nullah, Tipu Sultan nullah and Nehr-e-Khayam were particularly in run-down conditions following the rain, adding that “had [Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali] Zardari been a well-wisher of Karachi, he would have sought an explanation on the matter from provincial ministers.” But, he opined, the PPP leaderhips was corrupt.
Zaman went on to criticise Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani as well, who, he said, “was nowhere to be seen.”
He also slammed PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for neglecting Karachi. “Bilawal’s [home] city is Dubai, not Karachi or Larkana,” he said. “Therefore, he is minting money by embezzling Karachi’s funds while the city craves for every drop of water.”
Zaman also denounced K-Electric for prolonged electricity suspensions in Karachi, stating that the power utility had failed to live up to its promise of providing uninterrupted power supply to the country’s financial hub. “But this will no longer be tolerated,” he remarked.
Distribution of resources
The PTI leader also called for the restoration of the Provincial Finance Commission (PFC), under which provinces would disburse funds to the grassroots level after the constitution of a National Finance Commission award. He further demanded the allocation of funds to union councils under Article 140-A of the Constitution.
This article states, “Each province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.”
He noted that while this system had been revived in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, it had not materialised in Sindh over the past 12 years.
Speaking of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the PTI lawmaker asserted that like other institutions, the NAB was independent and fulfilling its purpose.
He maintained that the NAB’s responsibility was to facilitate and expedite trials of the cases it dealt with and action against accused in the cases was taken purely on the basis of merit.
Zaman said that the PTI would soon be approaching the anti-corruption department to take corrupt elements to the task.