Pakistan the Land of the Pure has the 7th highest population in the world and is ranked as the 36th largest country (area wise) of the world. . The population is expected to reach 200 million one day as the country continues to face a population explosion. When referring to Pakistan one naturally thinks of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad as development projects in these cities have been the top priority of almost every successive government. One cannot ignore the fact that population explosion is usually coupled with problems such as a higher crime rate, unemployment, pollution, sanitation and much more. None of the successive regimes had ever focused on the development of smaller cities and villages resultantly large population influx has been witnessed in the mega cities. In an ideal situation development projects would have been carried out in smaller cities and towns as well in order to avoid population influx in mega cities. Since true social development has never been a priority for Pakistan’s ruling elite therefore superficial social development is restricted to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad for the most part. The word democracy in Pakistan mostly reminds us of the rat race between the two political giants PPP and PLMN. However the last general elections marked the entry of PTI as a relatively new force in the political arena. It is high time to examine what the ruling parties PPP, PLMN and the relatively new PTI have delivered in Punjab, Sindh and KPK respectively.
The city of Karachi which was once referred to as the Paris of Asia on account of being one of the cleanest cities in United India is now facing garbage outbreak. The mega city of Karachi despite being the biggest contributor in the revenue of the state is facing a host of problems and challenges. PPP despite being in power for nearly 10 years has failed to keep Karachi clean and provide the inhabitants with clean drinking water. The city has witnessed numerous problems such as poor public transportation, garbage outbreak and a poor sewage system. The transportation issue finally saw the light of the day with the initiation of Green line Bus. The city mayor was summoned by the Court where he was questioned by the Chief Justice on garbage out break and water shortage in the city. The mayor criticized the Sindh government for ruining Karachi and merely reducing him to the status of a puppet in the hands of provincial government. The supply of clean water remains a big problem in Karachi as water mafia has destroyed the supply and distribution of water in the city. Furthermore 550 million gallons of sewage is dumped into the sea without being treated ultimately killing marine life.
Lahore being a mega city and the center of PLMN has witnessed many development projects during the past 5 years. The launching of two metro bus services in Lahore and the expected Orange Line are often referred to as signs of true social development by the Punjab government. There is no denying the fact that the metro bus service has benefitted the common man. However many people are opposed to the Orange Line Train as they see this particular development project being imposed on them. Most of the inhabitants of the old city of Lahore view this public transport project at the cost of their houses, livelihood and social lives. This development project would be achieved at the cost of Mosques, Churches, schools and collages being demolished. Despite many development projects initiated in Lahore by PLMN’s government Hamza Sahrif’s own constituency NA-119 continues to be a destitute locality with garbage chocking the drains.
The inhabitants of Islamabad continue to suffer from microbial contaminated water as municipal waste is not disposed of properly despite tall claims made by the federal government. According to environmental experts population explosion coupled with poor planning, irresponsible development work and green belt encroachments is rather disadvantageous for the environment of Islamabad.
Pakistan beyond Karachi Lahore and Islamabad
As elections draw near let us also bring into consideration the problems that the inhabitants of this land face beyond Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Therefore let us begin our discussion by first focusing on the state of affairs in interior Sindh. Despite the fact that Sindh’s budget exceeds one trillion majority of the population in rural Sindh is living much below the poverty line. Many Children in interior Sindh are dying due to problems such as malnutrition and dehydration. Tharparkar Sindh has witnessed an increasingly high rate in child mortality as 3000 children in this district have died during the past 5 years owing to dehydration. PPP has failed to materialize its famous slogan Roti, Kapra and Makan. The simplicity of this slogan is evident from the fact that it only promises bread to eat, clothes to wear and a dwelling place. PPP only promised simple lifestyles to its supporters with basic facilities of life no promises of lifestyles with luxury cars and huge bank balance had ever been made. The slogan despite being simple has not been materialized anywhere in interior Sindh as many rural societies have been intentionally deprived and impoverished. PPP despite being the ruling elite fails to answer why they could not materialize their promises even after enchanting their good old slogan for nearly 50 years.
The smaller cities of Punjab are still waiting for a proper infrastructure, better health and education facilities and a better law and order situation. The crime rate in Punjab has been on rise suggesting that the government needs to improve the law and order situation in the province. The rural settings and smaller towns in Punjab not only lack proper infrastructure, health, education and employment facilities but are also facing garbage out breaks and sanitation problems. NA-84 a small town in Faisalabad is the constituency of Abid Sher Ali yet it continues to experience worse living conditions. The residents of this small town are facing health problems as heaps of garbage and industrial waste is causing severe environmental pollution. Sher Ali despite being in power has done nothing for his constituency therefore the residents in a TV report lambasted him for averting his eyes from the situation.
KPK was undoubtedly considered as one the wildest provinces of Pakistan experiencing bad governance and poor law and order situation. Inhabitants of the province mostly suggest that the developmental progress of the recently new PIT is far better than the previous ruling elite ANP. However PTI despite being a relatively new political force in the province despite making tall claims has not been able to fully escape the criticism of the people. Some people praise PTI for improving the Police department, health and education sectors while others criticize the party for cases of corruption on district government level. Chief Minister Pervez Khattak was summoned to court where had had to answer the CJP for his government’s shortcomings during the past 5 years. Khattak was criticized for the provincial government’s failure in setting up a sewage treatment plant and for not making any substantial progress in health and education sectors. The provincial government was also criticized by the court for polluting the streams in the province with waste as Peshawar had not been kept clean. Some people are of the view that PTI could have performed better in KPK had the party not focused all its attention on bringing the Sharif family to justice.
Balochistan covers an enormously large area which makes it the biggest province despite having the smallest population in the country. There is no denying the fact that Balochistan owing to corrupt feudal lords and a lack of attention from the federation has experienced a strangled development. The city of Quetta being the provincial capital and the largest city in the province has a satisfactory infrastructure with a number of school, collages, universities and hospitals. However one cannot ignore the fact that Quetta city still needs many reforms and developmental projects to improve the lives of its inhabitants. The law and order situation has now improved but still more needs to be done as the province has a history of witnessing a fragile security situation for the most part. Development projects such as the Quetta mass transit promises a comfortable and affordable travel facility for the residents of Quetta. However most of the inhabitants of rural Balochistan are still in a dire need of clean drinking water, roads, transportation education and health facilities. It is believed that with the materialization of CPEC Balochistan would experience development at an unprecedented rate. However, some believe that the process of industrialization should not affect the lively hood of the local fishermen. While others believe that influx of migrants as a result of industrialization must not disturb the demographics.
The moment one steps out of the mega cities of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad an entirely different Pakistan is witnessed. It is true that smaller cities, towns and villages are in a dire need to experience prosperity and development. Social development and prosperity can only be achieved through honesty, commitment and sincerity on the part of the ruling elite. The success story of Dureji a remote district in Lasbella reveals the fact that provincial governments do not lack financial resources all they lack is sincerity and commitment. Dureji now has schools, hospitals, parks and a proper infrastructure owing to appropriate use of funds by Mohammad Aslam Bohatanni the former Chief Minister of Balochistan.
It is believed that Nawaz’s conviction is likely to boost Imran Khan’s ascendency in the forthcoming polls. However some political observers contend that both PPP and PLMN despite not meeting the criteria of running transparent governments must continue as political parties. These political parties must continue in order to keep checks and balances for PTI which seems to supersede these political giants. Opposition parties are also crucial in practicing checks and balances for the ruling elite as power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.
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