Wa­ter shortage be­comes a hot is­sue: Mis­bahud­din re­signs, CM de­cries those ex­ploit­ing it for po­lit­i­cal gains

Pakistan Observer - - NATIONAL - SALAHUDDIN HAIDER

THE is­sue of wa­ter shortage took seri ous turn Mon­day, as the Karachi Wa ter Board chief re­signed his post, and the Chief Min­is­ter came down hard upon those “ex­ploit­ing it to gain po­lit­i­cal mileage”

But would mere as­sur­ances from Qaim Ali Shah that he was look­ing af­ter the is­sue, help bring any re­lief to the peo­ple, is a ques­tion mer­it­ing se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. Karachi has been suf­fer­ing wa­ter shortage for a con­sid­er­able length of time. The rea­son was sim­ple. Pro­vin­cial govern­ment not only took le­nient view of a prob­lem, in­her­ently ex­plo­sive in char­ac­ter, but lit­er­ally sat over it for

long, and now was fac­ing mu­sic.

Prac­ti­cally the en­tire city had been com­plain­ing of acute wa­ter sup­ply, but some of the ar­eas like Lyari, Gul­shan-i-Iqbal, Gulis­tan-e-Jauhar, North Karachi, and even post lo­cal­i­ties like De­fence and Clifton, were stung by it.

As the is­sue gained in in­ten­sity, city’s main po­lit­i­cal party. MQM launched an ag­i­ta­tion, and even threat­ened to send the chief min­is­ter home, should its call for solv­ing the cri­sis, went un­heeded. A threat to that ef­fect was held out by party’s MNA Kun­war Naveed Jamil, who was also Zila Nazim of Hy­der­abad be­tween 2005 and 2010. Street protests, in­clud­ing the siege around the CM house on Sun­day was enough to draw at­trac­tion of the peo­ple. Plac­ard car­ry­ing pro­tes­tors re­moved hur­dles places on their way by po­lice to dis­play their anger and fury, and staged a sit-in front of the chief min­is­ter’s house. Such a demon­stra­tion was bound to take its toll, which it did within les than 24 hours. The Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the Karachi Wa­ter Board Mis­bahud­din Fa­reed be­came the first vic­tim. He re­signed his post Mon­day, cit­ing ill-health as the rea­son.

But in­sid­ers re­ported that he was per­haps made a scape­goat, af­ter a del­e­ga­tion of MQM, which had such stal­warts as Khalid Maq­bool Sid­diqi, Kun­war Naveed Jamil, and others, had met the Sindh Food Min­is­ter and former Nazim of Sukkur city, Nasir and the chief min­is­ter’s ad­viser Waqar, promised prompt at­ten­tion to a prob­lem, hang­ing fire for quite some time. Nasir for­merly was the Lo­cal govern­ment min­is­ter and in that ca­pac­ity had did some pos­i­tive work for Karachi and other cities within his ju­ris­dic­tion. His re­place­ment and switch over to an­other port­fo­lio was sur­pris­ing.

But it seemed that MQM had some con­fi­dence in him, as the op­po­si­tion leader in the pro­vin­cial as­sem­bly Khawaja Izharul Hasan, later ex­plained that he would wait for ten days for ac­tion on a four-point for­mula for solv­ing the tick­lish is­sue which he had pre­sented to Nasir Sun­day night.

But the chief min­is­ter looked un­happy by the MQM stance on hav­ing a sep­a­rate Karachi prov­ince. He re­ferred to that in his speech while launch­ing a project in Karachi Mon­day, and felt that at­tempt to split Sindh, will be a con­spir­acy to split Pak­istan.

Ob­vi­ously, the lo­cals, which the PPP proudly claims to be its vot­ers , sup­port­ers and sym­pa­this­ers , feel pro­voked and ir­ri­tated over call to sep­a­rate Karachi from the rest of the Prov­ince. How­ever Karachi, be­ing the seat of the govern­ment, had to be taken proper care of. Ig­nor­ing it would not help over­come the cri­sis. It would in­stead give it a fil­lip, and a de­mand, how­so­ever, small and in­signif­i­cant for the present, is bound to as­sume hor­ren­dous pro­por­tions, if re­mained de­void of a well thought out strat­egy. The Sindh govern­ment had taken some steps to break the wa­ter tanker mafia, and had even de­mol­ished over 100 il­le­gal hy­drants, built over wa­ter mains and in ar­eas where wa­ter was sold at pro­hib­i­tive prices. But then po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age and ex­pe­di­en­cies be­came se­ri­ous ob­sta­cles.

The chief min­is­ter’s re­marks that he would pre­fer ar­eas in­hab­ited by poorer seg­ments of the so­ci­ety, rather than giv­ing wa­ter to posh lo­cal­i­ties of the rich and well to do peo­ple, was cor­rect in­stance, but even the poorer sec­tions of the so­ci­ety are now suf­fer­ing, and in fact are worse than those in posh lo­cal­i­ties.

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