MAMOSA Report; Dec 2, 2016 — Weeks after mayor of Karachi and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leader Waseem Akhtar was released from jail after being granted bail in the last of 39 cases against him, on Wednesday he made a high-profile launch of a new strategy — mending fences with political parties to seek help for the welfare of the much-neglected city and to convince them to join his efforts to strengthen local bodies’ institutions through workable financial and administrative powers.
Earlier last week Akhtar visited the Sindh Assembly and met ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmakers and speaker Agha Siraj Durrani. He also called on Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. Though, the chief minister assured the mayor of his support, he reportedly expressed his inability to invest more powers in the local bodies beyond what is there in the Local Government Law, 2013.
Apparently in an attempt to bring about a reconciliation with two of the major political parties flexing their muscles in the country’s financial capital long a stronghold of the MQM, the mayor felicitated PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on the party’s 49th foundation day and visited Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s headquarters in the metropolis.
Akhtar also visited Awami National Party (ANP) office, Mardan House — all on same day, signalling a major shift in the long-established strategy of his party.
A day earlier, he addressed a press conference and announced a plan to launch a 100-day cleanliness drive in the teeming city and hinted that he would take other political parties along while serving the metropolis.
“Karachi houses about 30 million habitants and we are facing lots of huge problems and issues. We have to show unity for handling such problems and obtaining Karachi’s due share according to its requirement for development,” Waseem said.
Karachi collects major share in revenue from the national exchequer that always helps running the country’s affairs. It reroutes 85 percent of revenue to the Sindh Government to run its affairs as well, he said, adding, keeping in view Article 140-A of the constitution of Pakistan.
“Elected representatives have not been given powers, yet the people who chose us rightly expect from us to serve the city. We are determined to carry on the journey of progress in the city with spirit and passion though we have no resources at all,” said Mr Akhtar while speaking to the media after his visit to the PTI’s Karachi office.
“We [political parties] all are on the same page to solve the city problems. We do not need any opposition because this city belongs to all of us and we all want to serve it. Being the mayor of whole Karachi I want to carry out uplift works in all of its areas without any political consideration.”
PTI leader Imran Ismail, PTI Karachi President Firdous Naqvi, Khurram Sher Zaman, and others including its parliamentary leader in the city council Aslam Afridi and DMC East chairman Moeed Anwer were also present.
Earlier, when he pulled up at the PTI’s Insaf House, the mayor was warmly received.
Mayor Akhtar called it a good omen that like his own party, other parties, too, wanted solution to city’s problems. However, he expressed his desire that there should be no opposition in the city council, explaining that ‘we all gather there for solving the city problems’.
He said Karachi was a big city with more than 20m population and had a lot of problems that could only be solved through mutual understanding and equal zeal and sincerity irrespective of political affiliations.
He requested the federal and provincial governments to announce larger development packages for Karachi.
Karachi PTI leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi welcomed the mayor and claimed that his party was with the city mayor in his aspiration to solve Karachi’s problems. He declared that the PTI would fully cooperate with Mr Akhtar. He said civic conditions were not good for which local government system ought to be strengthened.
“We want the elected municipal representatives to get all the powers and authority that allowed them amply serving their constituents. He appreciated the 100-day cleanliness campaign announced by the mayor.
He also appealed the government to provide funds to Karachi so that it could again become city of lights.
PTI’s Imran Ismail said his party’s meeting with the mayor had only one-point agenda to get Karachi rid of its incessant problems.
MPA Khurram Sher Zaman said the city’s problems could not be solved without enhancing the mayoral powers.