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Karachi Needs Development Not Shameless Gerrymandering

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The Sindh cabinet in a recent meeting gave a go-ahead for the addition of another district in Karachi, and now if the plan goes ahead, with the addition of Keemari, Karachi will now be having as many as seven districts.
The decision was made just when the ongoing tenure of the toothless local bodies system is about to end within a week. If there was one worst thing to Karachi which should have been avoided at all cost to maintain the peace and stability established after a successful operation, it was this ill-intentioed gerrymandering.

It is quite clear by the looks of it that the bifurcation on purely ethnic – not administrative lines – is being done to get political mileage for the next local bodies polls. The governing party wasn’t able to win the District Municipal Corporation (West) seat despite making a coalition with other smaller parties after the last polls – and to avoid the same fate, the thinking heads of the Bilawal House bifurcated the district on ethnic lines. Had it been a decision taken purely due to administrative challenges, more districts would have been divided. But when the political advantages are prioritised over the civic challenges of the city, such decisions are meant to be made.

Karachi is known for its sad history of ethnic hostilities which was used by weaponized criminal elements for killings, kidnappings, extortion and other heinous crimes just a few years before the commencement of Karachi operation led by our security forces. The long-awaited peace has arrived in the city. But the question is: can we consolidate it? Can we respect the sacrifices of our security forces in rooting out Taliban militants, MQM-London terrorists and members of Lyari gangs?
Sadly, the recent political bedevilment shows that we are at the cusp of losing all the gains secured by the state and the society of our peace-hungry city.
The PPP in its quest to have its Mayor in Karachi is using all the tricks it have to secure the goal. No, the (ill)means doesn’t justify the end. Let’s paint a picture, let’s say by using such tactics, Mr Bilawal and his party gets a district and even the mayorship of this city but at what cost? The PPP will be giving a London-based man nominated in money laundering cases, suspected to be behind at least thousands of murder, certainly responsible for stoking ethnic hatred, will be having a last laugh.
The so-called MQM London which seeks any opportunity to exploit the ethnic fault lines will have the opportunity to gain sympathizers based on the premise that the governing ruling elite cheated them again, while all those who matter are mummed about it.
It should be noted that while the Sindh government leaves no stone unturned to be the guardian of 18th amendment but under their governance is either reluctant to share power or have stopped low to play dirty by altering electoral constituencies. The champions of democracy are yet to make a Provincial Financial Commission from last 13 years, they claim to be the torchbearer of constitutional supremacy but have violated the spirit of 140-A with an unprecedented ‘zeal and motivation’.

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The city which was turned into a model city just a decade back under the esteemed leadership of Mustafa Kamal turned into a war zone because the political elite was too busy to secure illegitimate gains at the cost of innocent lives. Do we want to head in that particular direction again? Do we really want to ignite the ethnic flames which have been cool down after a long time?
Just like any other metropolitan city, Karachi only needs one thing: Decentralised strong local bodies system.
Until and unless the Mayor or City Nazim is not financially and administratively not empowered enough to take civic decisions, the city will remain a garbage den as it is right now – barring a few posh areas. Let the city choose who they want to, let the people of Karachi be the judge. This city has seen enough of the politics of hate courtesy ethnic frictions.
The PPP looks at Karachi through a myopic, parochial vision. It regrets that even during the Bhutto wave it failed to secure the attention of this city towards it. It wants to put its own men at the key positions. The Bhuttos, Zardaris and their aides must realise that it is only good governance which crafts a space in the hearts and minds of the constituents not the political gimmickry it is pursuing.
May we never go back to the days of Altaf Hussain and Uzair Baloch. May better sense prevail all across the board because this city has seen enough blood in the senseless ethnic conflict created for the political benefits of few.

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Naya Daur