Problems of DHA residents

It was 20 years ago that I was finally able to purchase a small house in Phase IV of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in Karachi. I threw in every penny that I had and yet had to rely on bank loan to be able to make the move. But I did all that happily, with spring in my feet and stars in my eyes. I thought I was able to give my family a decent lifestyle in a decent locality.
It seemed like the best and the wisest decision of my life. Was it? Frankly, I don’t know. Buying water through tankers all these years make me wonder if it was. Perhaps it was the worst and the stupidest decision of my life. Was it? Frankly, I don’t know. At least during the monsoon season, it certainly looks like one. What I can say for sure is that the spring in my feet and the stars in my eyes have long parted company.
During the 2020 monsoons, our area experienced the worst, almost unimaginable, conditions, and the residents held protests in front of the offices of the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) and the DHA Administrator. The idea was to express our grief and make the authorities take note of the losses and sufferings of those paying exorbitant taxes and charges regularly. However, instead of doing something positive, the officials lodged FIR against the innocent citizens whose only demand was for the relevant authorities to make amends, and protect the residents from such losses the next time it rains.
The last year was relatively peaceful because there were no heavy rains. We hoped we would be lucky this year as well; either there won’t be downpours or the administration would have done its homework. We knew it was a case of hoping against hope, but that was the only choice we had. The moment it started raining this year, all our layers of hope started diminishing with every drop of rain. The situation in the entire DHA was dismal, but in phase IV it was clearly the worst.
Starting July 10, the area had blanket power outage. There was no electricity for close to 55-60 hours. All lanes and streets were inundated. Water mixed with a fair amount of sewage entered the houses. The basements, in houses that had one, were flooded. It was like living in some remote backwater during high tide. Sitting helpless within the confines of the island that my house had become, cut off from the rest of the world, including the neighbourhood, as the phone batteries went dead, I cursed the day when I planned to make the move to the DHA. I hope the authorities will not file an FIR against me just on the basis of some odd thoughts and the choicest of grumbles that I mumbled in those dark hours. Some high-ranking VIPs are said to have surveyed the area in a helicopter during the time. Did it help? No. Will it help? No. Can things get any darker? Yes. Everything soon will be nothing more than a bad memory for the authorities that they would love to forget about. Nobody will be held accountable for anything. Anybody demanding accountability will face an FIR. Will there ever be an FIR against the administrators? Well, the question itself is preposterous. Let’s take recourse to Ghalib for some emotional catharsis!
Obaida Iqbal Rizvi

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