Bilawal visits 50 countries being FM and tally is going up and up — Jiye Bhutto!

Bilawal visits 50 countries being FM and tally is going up and up -- Jiye Bhutto!

By Irum Saleem

PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto Zaradri made a record 50 foreign trips after assuming foreign minister office a year ago.

    A balay balay like situation for a man who thought he might come in this position again so it’s better to have great fun out there.

   Must have a huge sum of money spent on his foreign trips in which Pakistan achieved what no body knows.

   Let’s see if the closing of this tenure Bilawal reaches near 100 trips.

    On the other hand, the PPP has been in celebration node over grabbing the slot of Karachi mayor.

     Senior journalist Abbas Nasir says it will be for the Election Commission and/or the courts to rule on the legitimacy of the election to the office of the mayor of Karachi this week, but what is already established beyond a shadow of doubt is that the metropolis’s issues are such that a single day cannot be wasted in addressing them.

    “At the centre of the disputed election is the abstention of about half, or 30-odd, PTI members who could have tilted the balance in favour of the Jamaat-i-Islami’s mayoral candidate Hafiz Naeemur Rehman. He remained the runner-up with 160 votes.

The PPP’s Murtaza Wahab polled 173 votes and was declared the winner. Instead of abstaining, had the PTI members voted, like the rest of their party colleagues, the math would tell us that the Karachi Jamaat leader would have won by a comfortable margin in a 367-member House,” he says.

     As things stand, the Jamaat alleges that PPP-led Sindh government used its administrative muscle to forcefully keep those PTI members from voting who were counted as abstentions. For its part, the PPP denies the allegation and says the Jamaat and even PTI did not engage with those members and they showed their anger by staying away.

    “The hapless citizens of this city have rewritten the manual of how to survive in an urban jungle. Who knows how long the issue will take to resolve and whether the Jamaat will seek legal recourse at all regarding how the election turned out to be, even after PTI leader Imran Khan had directed his party’s elected public officials to vote for it. Legal wrangling is time-consuming. In the meantime, the PPP and its mayor have been given a godsend opportunity to garner support in the city where the vacuum left by the Altaf Hussain-led MQM, after its fall from grace, is up for grabs. The inroads made by PTI were visible but now that it has fallen foul of its past benefactors, its chances are likely to be stymied.”

   The PPP’s relationship with Karachi means that while other political parties can and have survived, in fact thrived, on slogans alone, the former can’t. Delivery will have to be its solitary asset. The hapless citizens of the city of my birth have literally rewritten the manual of how to survive in an urban jungle when you have nothing or next to nothing, many times over.

    Abbas Nasir says it is a tribute to their ingenuity that with almost no services on offer, with the state and local government both badly shirking their responsibility, they have somehow found a way to get enough water to survive, clean and wash. Where possible, they have managed to clear sewage through self-help schemes and where not, they have still managed to stay alive, even if in outright squalor and in unhealthy conditions.

“If you have ever used the Karachi public transport to get to, and from, work, you’d know you will be given the highest mark a commuter can get anywhere in the world for having the most remarkable survival instinct. For what else could have kept you afloat?

I am not even talking of proper urban planning here with a city masterplan constantly being updated to accommodate the rapidly changing needs of an ever-expanding urban sprawl that is our beloved Karachi but just some rudimentary things to ease the pain of the Karachiite.

This is one city where the squalor of the shantytowns is matched by the utter neglect of even the so-called salubrious parts where the rich live in the splendour of their homes. What is within the four walls of such homes presents such a stark contrast to what is outside.”

   Mr Nasir says for years and years, the city has been sliding downhill with nobody applying the brakes. The PPP has a share in the federal government and controls the Sindh government. Now it has placed itself at the helm of the city government. Fresh general elections will be due in October/November.

“Obviously, the governments at the centre and the provinces will be dissolved ahead of that. That dissolution, barring the extraordinary, ought to happen over the next six to seven weeks. Time is in short supply and all battles for resources for the local government need to happen in that timeframe.

It is a long shot but if the mayor and his team are able to establish even their intent in the eyes of the Karachiites, their party’s prospects in the national and provincial polls may also become better than they are at present. With Altaf Hussain likely to stick to his boycott and the PTI’s path strewn with obstacles, PPP and the Jamaat ought to be the main beneficiaries.”

“I am taking the liberty of offering unsolicited advice to the new mayor. There are no better people than urban planners/ designers/ architects Arif Hasan, Shahid Abdullah, Marvi Mazhar and some others of their tribe to offer the most inclusive and sustainable solutions to the multitudes of issues Karachi is facing,” Nasir says.

They have no hidden agenda. They have dedicated their professional lives to developing an understanding of Karachi, its residents and their needs and designing solutionsthat work for the majority, ie, the poorest among them, and don’t operate niche design practices for only those with millions to spend. The mayor and his team can learn so much from them. Will they?

“There are already suspicions that projects such as the Malir Expressway and new water conduits being constructed are being done to mainly service rich new urban ‘developments’ such as Bahria Town and DHA City and not really the poor multitudes who call Karachi their home. These doubts need to be allayed. If possible, erased.

Even though the elections may not be very far away, the city by and large looks like such a picture of neglect that even a dozen high-visibility manifestations of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s commitment to sustainable development to benefit the have-nots and the middle class would not go unnoticed.”

Nasir questions does the PPP have the vision to understand that, and act fast to grab the chance? PAK DESTINY

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