“The more we distance ourselves from the state of nature, the more we invite calamities”, the leading political philosopher of France Jacques Rousseau proposed in the 18th Century.
The recent devastation in Karachi caused by rains is an accurate embodiment of this idea as mother nature seems to have punished us for encroaching waterways, insensible garbage and sewage disposal, and poor transport design. The City has been drowned many times in the past, but the havoc wreaked by these spells was unprecedented for poor and rich alike. Now that everyone is saying ‘enough is enough’, here are a few points that must not slip away from our memory until the promises of a revamped Karachi are materialized.
The welfare organizations have never left us alone in any situation and they proved to be the savior of Karachi this time also. We owe plenty of thanks to Edhi, Chippa, JDC, Al-Khidmat, and other welfare institutes. Let’s always trust these names while donating and extend our moral support by acknowledging their services at social forums.
The disastrous downpours motivate us to emerge beyond our political and linguistic affiliation and admit that all provincial, city and federal governments have failed to deliver. We should remember the faces who show up almost daily on tv shows and launch tirades on opponents but give only flimsy details on their own performance. We all should act and elect wisely if we want better treatment moving ahead.
Notwithstanding the poor delivery of administration, Karachiites themselves cannot be absolved of their part in the destruction of the metropolis. First, the collapse of this city calls for in-depth retrospection of our choices. Few people know that Abdul Sattar Edhi once fought general elections from Kharadar and Mithadar but ended up at fifth place. Indeed, administration and welfare works are different, but it is hard to believe that there were no better options to run and develop the economic hub of Pakistan in all those 70 years. Secondly, we don’t realize the intensity of damage caused by our own careless and casual attitude of garbage disposal. Who is to blame for the scattered ATM receipts around the dustbins? We must know that the trash we habitually throw out of our room or car window ultimately finds its fate in a water channel and takes revenge when it rains. More painful is when it comes to Muslims who should be role models for cleanliness!
Another focus area for the public is the tracking of real problems. Following Karachi rains, we may get carried away by new issues, possibly non-issues, devouring up all the due attention for city woes. The rains have united us in a unique way, as someone rightly put it from Posh to Paposh, in our demands for rights. Until the Karachi Transformation plan kicks off and begins to take shape, the sights of submerged houses, devastated roads, rubbish laden nullahs must remain afresh and maintain the energized drive for a better Karachi.
The issues of the metropolis have long been highlighted by experts and journals. Many urban planners and social activists have repeatedly warned about the impact of land acquisition on infrastructure. Specific to downpours, we should recall Parveen Rehman who explained the catastrophic repercussions of land modification near the boat basin in a program recorded in 2010. This is a watershed moment to listen to these specialists who have workable solutions for Karachi.
It will not be unjust to say that most of us remain in our comfort zone believing that every problem is for the others and some miracle will save us always somehow. However, the same ‘Ostrich Approach’ is now sinking Karachi. Now that the new momentum has built-in all quarters including the public, political parties, and army, let’s not allow it to smother and take it to the logical end of the revamped city.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.