The recent successful manhole cover campaign in Karachi is an indicator that the Karachiites want to see their city as a civilised and modern metropolis but the ruling politicians and their bureaucracy have no vision about the urbanisation and its benefits.
If considered in terms of population and area, Karachi is amongst the largest cities of the world. If considered in terms of urban infrastructure and civic facilities, it is far behind even many cities of the poorest countries of Africa. No other big urban city in the world has worse public transport system than Karachi. No other big urban city could compete with Karachi in broken streets, overflowing gutters, poorly managed schools, hospitals and rampant corruption.
The lone port city of Pakistan has a huge potential in becoming one of the greatest cities of this region but the rulers of Sindh province, whose capital is Karachi, are not ready to materialise this potential. Resultantly, Karachi is still a backward, deprived and orphaned city, despite its huge population, thriving port and good industrial and commercial base.
The burning issues of the city include its poor public transport system, insufficient number of government hospitals and educational institutes, shabby roads, failing drainage disposal system, acute shortage of drinking water, crippling load shedding of electricity and unbelievably high corruption and bribery in almost every sector.
The citizens of this mega city have been demanding for a proper drainage system, making new water storage reservoirs, running the out of order Cogen water desalination system, repair of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), banning narrow-bodied minibuses and replacing them with wide-bodied public transport buses, removing encroachments from roads, provision of drugs and doctors to hospitals, proper attendance of teachers in government schools and colleges and better monitoring mechanisms to check corruption and bribery, but the bureaucracy do not like these public demands.
The role of ruling political parties of Karachi in resolving the problems of the city has remained very poor. The parties of the city are accused by the citizens that instead of serving the city they served their political cadres. Wholesale illegal appointments on political basis in different government departments are criticised by the citizens. Now a number of such irregularities in the government departments of Karachi are being investigated by different federal government probe agencies.
The rulers should raise their benchmarks and vision about the urban cities and urbanisation process. A mega city, like Karachi, is a great blessing for Sindh province, as well as, Pakistan, if it is modernised and updated in infrastructure sector and all the missing civic facilities provided to it on priority basis. The rulers could learn a lot from the Lahore model of the Punjab government if they really open their mind to learn new and beneficial things from their neighbours. However, after the recent local government elections, the political parties of Karachi have got yet another opportunity to serve the city selflessly and make it a thriving mega metropolis.