Supreme Court’s ‘tributes’ to Sindh govt, Karachi mayor

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 06:00 PM, 11 Aug, 2020
Supreme Court’s ‘tributes’ to Sindh govt, Karachi mayor

The Supreme Court couldn’t do more than what it did both to the Sindh government and the Karachi mayor while hearing a petition concerning the Karachi problems on Monday. Had such ‘tributes’ come from political opponents they would have been rejected by the addressees as victimization. But since it’s the top court, and there is no higher forum where its remarks/judgments can be challenged, the relevant authorities must spare some time to ponder why they have failed in the performance of their duties. They should review their working and take necessary steps to bring about noticeable improvement in it. 

Karachi is the biggest city and economic hub of the Islamic republic. If a party has not been able to solve problems facing the mega city even in 12 years of its uninterrupted rule, how much more time would it need to enable its residents to lead comfortable lives. Political governments are supposed to honour all their commitments in a single term – of five years. But if the performance of two full terms plus two years of the third consecutive term has not been able to satisfy the apex court, ordinary mortals will be justified in raising fingers at the tall claims of those in power.

"Where is the writ of the Sindh government, asked CJP Gulzar Ahmed, who himself is a Karachiite and knows the city’s problems to their roots.

He has been quoted as saying: The Sindh government and local authorities appear hostile to Karachi.

"The whole city is filthy. Who will fix this? People come and fill their pockets but do nothing for the city. Ministers travel in big cars whereas the chief minister rides in a helicopter and does nothing."

During the hearing, the CJP asked about the Karachi mayor, observing that he regularly complains about lack of authority. "If you have no authority, go home; why are you the mayor?" he commented, asking when Waseem Akhtar's tenure was completing. 

When the mayor responded his term would expire on August 28, the CJP told him to quit. "It is better to spare the lives of the people; you are part of the city's destruction during your tenure."

A furious CJP also lashed out at the Karachi Electric.

"Ten people die of electrocution every day, but the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority is not taking action," he said, adding that the responsible KE officials should be booked and put on the Exit Control List.

"No one invests in Karachi's betterment. Everyone just makes money and the KE management are doing the same thing."

On Tuesday, the top court went a step ahead, directing the authorities concerned to add the name of K-Electric CEO Moonis Alvi in all the cases registered against the utility in connection with the deaths caused by electrocution. 

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Faisal Arab also ordered a comprehensive audit of K-Electric. 

Political observers are of the view that as a result of these proceedings, some flaws of the system came to light.  

For example, Mayor Waseem Akhtar said: "I am serving in difficult circumstances. No one can deliver with this [lack of] power. I request the CJP to hear my petition for the empowerment of local bodies under Article 140-A of the Constitution." 

According to him, 70 per cent of the city was under the Centre's control and 20 percent under the Sindh government, leaving just 10 percent for KMC.

He said KMC’s powers too were controlled by the provincial government. "Even the power to clean drain was snatched from KMC."

The veracity of the claim must be examined by the relevant authorities.

Sindh’s Education Minister Saeed Ghani, who is one of the most trusted and outspoken ministers of the PPP government, said while talking to journalists that the government was using all available resources to solve the province's problems. 

"We give the mayor funds according to the law. If he is not satisfied, the relevant law will have to be changed," he added.

The federal government holds the Sindh government responsible for the problems facing the province. The provincial government shifts responsibility to the Centre. The mayor claims he is powerless and that the provincial government is not playing its due role.

In such a situation the common man doesn’t know where to go for the solution of their problems.