The Tale of Two Cities

During the reign of Former President Pervaiz Musharraf the Karachiites looked quite attached with the city for the very first time. The people were very much optimistic after long and they anticipated to enhance the beauty and cleanliness of the city under ‘I own Karachi’ program.

The only two mayors of the city did commendable and splendid work for the very first time in the history of Karachi, one is from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Mr Naimatullah Khan followed by Mustafa Kamal from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Both of them put the city on the track of progress and development. Gigantic number of expatriates came back to Karachi for investing in its flourishing economy. There was major activity in the domain of technology and the citizens of this great port city had observed a paradigm shift in the dynamics of their hometown.

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After the Musharraf, a political party won in elections which has mandate exclusively in the rural districts of Sindh, after coming into power appointed an old age political worker as the chief minister of the province. That’s when the actual decline of Karachi started.

Law and order became worse afterward, local bodies system which transformed the cosmopolitan city, was rolled back as corrupt and incredible people were ‘appointed’ rather than ‘elected’ to look after the mega-city. In the last term and this first year, since the recent elections, Karachi has suffered gravely at the hands of inefficient and unelected administrators.

The consequence of these corrupt and illegible leaders is that the city is now a heap of garbage and boasts of uncompleted and rolled back developmental projects. The beautiful bus stands which were built by Mustafa Kamal now tell a story of neglect. Likewise the green bus service, which was a convenient mode of transportation for great number of commuters, it was stopped due to the pressure of the transport mafia, and with no proper mass transit system, outdated and unsecure buses and unsafe open rickshaws are running on our roads.

With no solid waste management system in place, the heaps of garbage are lying out in the corners of every lane. The water tanker mafia having strong hold in city; they compel water-deprived residents to buy the basic necessity of life from them despite of this they must have uninterrupted line water supply at least, which is indeed the most fundamental right of the residents.

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In contrast to Karachiites, Lahoris have a better and proper city life with the basic necessities and facilities available to them 24/7. The roads in Lahore are carpeted, more clean and wide, an effective traffic management system, relatively better law and order situation, the metro bus and the recently signed up metro train project will also benefit the gigantic amount of commuters. Punjab government has launched an effective waste management system in collaboration with Turkey.

The difference is very clear as government of Punjab is comparatively better than the government of Sindh in some departments. The hospitals in Punjab have worst conditions. The government schools have very inferior condition than the private school systems. The conditions of both health and education departments in Sindh are not much different from Punjab. The Sindh government is still setting records of incompetence and incredibility to make a mess of Karachi city in the days to come. Local bodies’ elections are, therefore, badly needed before Karachi turns into a complete wasteland.

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Usamah Mahmood Khan is an engineering graduate from COMSATS  with an interest in culture and socio-political issues.


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