Karachi - On his maiden visit to Karachi after assuming power, Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised to restore the lost glory of the City of Lights and made some bold announcements – including giving nationality to immigrants from Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
On his one-day visit to the port city, Khan on Sunday reviewed the progress of federal government-funded projects in the port city, chaired a high-level meeting on law and order, and also attended a fundraiser for dams.
The premier promised a master plan for the port city that included efforts to make it clean and green through planting of trees wherever possible and setting up of waste recycling plants. He pledged full support to provincial government for all the positive work, as he linked the development of country with a secure, clean and healthy environment.
He hailed the sacrifices and of law enforcement personnel which led to a marked improvement in the overall law and order situation. But he also expressed grave concern on the reported rise in street crime and abduction of children, and asked the relevant authorities to tackle this issue on priority.
Chairing a meeting on the city’s law and order here at State Guest House, the prime minister said that the economic potential of the country cannot be harnessed without peace and stability and that’s why improved security is high on agenda of the federal government.
The meeting was attended by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Secretary Maj (r) Azam Sulaiman Khan, Karachi Commissioner Sualeh Farooqi, Commander 5 Corp Lt-Gen Hamayun Aziz, Rangers DG Maj-Gen Muhammad Saeed, IGP Dr Syed Kaleem Imam, Home Secretary Abdul Qadir Qazi and other senior officials.
Imran Khan was of the view that Karachi is financial capital of Pakistan and therefore his government will continue offering full support to provincial government for its development and improvement in law and order here.
The meeting reviewed the overall law and order situation in the entire province with special focus on peace and security in the capital, Karachi.
The provincial police chief Dr Syed Kaleem Imam briefed the meeting on the law and order situation whereas the Rangers director general gave a briefing on the threat assessment and role of the paramilitary force in Karachi operation.
The participants of the meeting were informed that overall 90 percent reduction has been witnessed in the rate of heinous crimes since the start of Karachi operation.
The prime minister appreciated the role of Rangers, police and other law enforcement agencies for restoration of peace in Karachi, and stressed on better coordination among the agencies at federal and provincial levels so that the peace and security could be maintained across the whole country.
The PM however expressed grave concern on the reported rise in street crime and took strong exception to the cases of abduction of children in the city. He sought coordinated action against abductors, the urgent recovery of children and the provision of relief to parents.
Meeting on development works
The prime minister also chaired a meeting on development projects funded by the federal government in Sindh which, besides the above said officials, was attended by Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and senior officers of Karachi Water & Sewerage Board.
The meeting was briefed about the ongoing development projects, particularly Green Line Bus Rapid Transit Project and the K-IV water supply project.
PM Khan emphasised the need of enhancing coordination between federal and provincial governments for co-funded development projects so these could be completed at the earliest.
He expressed grave concerns when he was informed that Karachi is facing a water shortage of 573 million gallons per day (MGD) against a demand of 918 MGD.
The prime minister directed that a representative of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation should also be included in the board of directors of Green Line Project.
Separately, as a part of ongoing countrywide tree plantation campaign, Premier Imran planted a sapling at the State Guest House.
Khan had launched his government’s plantation drive recently in Haripur, setting a targeted of planting 10 billion trees across the country to fight the challenges of global warming and climate change.
Earlier in the day, the premier was received by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Governor Imran Ismail and other officials at the Jinnah Airport.
Then Imran Khan, along with the CM, visited the Quiad’s mausoleum to offer Fateha and lay a floral wreath. He also visited the graves of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah and the first PM of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan.
Speech at dams fundraiser
Speaking at a dinner hosted for raising funds for dams, the prime minister lauded the efforts of the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar for initiating the campaign for building of dams.
“In 1947, Pakistan had per-capita water of 5,600 cubic metres but today only 1,000 cubic metres are left,” he said. “If we continue like this then by 2025 there will be a massive shortage of water. It will affect our food security and our agricultural production will go down.
“Those who say that dams should not be built, I would like to quote them some statistics. China, the country that is progressing at the fastest pace in the world, has 84,000 dams, including 5,000 big dams. India, too, has 5,000 dams and they are still building more. And we only have two major dams.”
The PM said that the country is heavily in debt, adding that new “dams cannot be financed through budget either”, which is why “we have decided to do fundraising”.
“I am the biggest fundraiser of Pakistan’s history,” he said. “I have been raising funds for 30 years. The target that we have to reach every year is Rs30 billion. God willing, we will raise more than that because I can see that Pakistanis have been mobilised, both in and out of the country.”
The PM said that in addition to the Diamer Bhasha dam, the government is also about to start work on Mohmand Dam which, he said, is “very feasible”. “We will work on both the dams simultaneously,” he vowed.
Nationality for Bengalis, Afghans
The prime minister said that children of Afghan and Bengali refugees and migrant workers in Pakistan will get Pakistani passports. He went on to say that the children of Afghanis and Bangalis who are born in Pakistan would also be issued national identity cards.
He said this as he linked Karachi’s street crime problem with the city’s “growing underclass”. “The illiterati do not get jobs and have no way to make a living,” he said. “These people, who are originally from Bangladesh and Afghanistan, they do not get passports or ID cards.”
He said that the crime in the metropolis is a result of lack of justice. “We will address this [problem] immediately,” he said, adding, “This zulm needs to end”.
He appreciated that the target killing numbers are down in the city but the street crime is increasing in the city due to joblessness.
Master plan and Green Karachi
Prime Minister Khan also promised to make a “first-ever master plan” for the port city. “Pakistan cannot progress until Karachi is developed,” he said.
The premier said that the federal government will address supply of water and transport in Karachi on an immediate basis and the construction of a Northern bypass to address traffic issues.
He vowed to make Karachi Circular Railway functional to overcome transport woes of the city and installation of a water recycling plant for making the sewerage water usable.
PM Khan said that waste disposal is a huge issue for the city, adding that he is giving the Sindh government two more months to address the issue otherwise the federal government will take charge.
“We need to uplift the poor and underprivileged. We have the Chinese model to emulate that moved 70 million people from the poverty line,” he said.
PM Khan promised the people present in the event to reforest Karachi. He said that the city is currently a concrete jungle and called it ‘a heat trap’. “We will work to formulate and incorporate “Green Karachi”.
Imran said that Governor Houses has exorbitant costs for the people of Pakistan. “In a country where 43 percent of children have stunted growth and millions are out of school, how can we afford this ostentatious lifestyle?” he said.
Siddiqui’s media talk
PM Imran also met with a delegation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) led by its convener and Federal Minister for Information and Technology and Telecommunication Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.
Talking to media after the meeting, the MQM-P chief said that they have talked about special packages for Karachi and Hyderabad with the premier.
“We have also forwarded our stance on the issues of missing persons and the local government system in Sindh. The PM is informed about injustices being done with the people of urban Sindh as well as sheer violation made in the results of census and delimitations,” he added.
Siddiqui said that the MQM-P had worked for the formation of public sector university in Hyderabad and the same proposal was submitted to prime minister. The matter of Karachi’s Martin Quarters’ residences also came in discussion.
“The prime minister assured that the employees of Karachi Port Trust or of any department would not be terminated from their jobs.” He said that Karachi needs a package of Rs500 billion immediately, adding the mega city should be provided Rs 100 billion per month.
Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar said that they have informed the PM Imran about the issues of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, adding that the problems cannot be resolved until the KMC gets required funds.
“We have apprised the PM Imran the case of Karachiites as the city has become a hub of garbage. The KMC had demanded of the provincial government to include nine schemes but the same was not incorporated in the budget,” he said.
PM promises a green and glorious Karachi