Islamabad: The incumbent Mayor of Karachi Wasim Akhtar on Tuesday suspended Syed Mustafa Kamal as Project Director Garbage for “acting beyond authority”, a day after appointing him.
Akhtar, who is the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Mayor of Karachi, had appointed Kamal, a former mayor, on Monday “on voluntary basis with immediate effect”.
However, Tuesday proved to be the last day of this marriage of convenience and Akhtar, while citing a long charge sheet, sent Kamal packing.
Kamal, a dissident leader and founder of his own Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) had been one of the key figures of the MQM and served as Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA), Senate of Pakistan, Minister of IT for Sindh and Mayor (City Nazim) of Karachi.
He was appointed the project director to clean the biggest city of Pakistan after he challenged Akhtar that he could it within 90 days.
On Monday, while accepting Akhtar’s challenge, Kamal rolled out an ambitious plan to remove garbage from the city’s streets and roads and had called in a meeting of the municipal and sanitation staff at 2am.
“I will not only keep myself awake but will also keep my boss [Akhtar] awake and will regularly update him on city’s cleanliness,” Kamal told the media.
However, in a dramatic turn of events, Akhtar addressed a press conference and said he had suspended Kamal as he was playing politics and being insolent and dishonest.
He said Kamal was appointed for three months as the project director of garbage collection but he started acting as an accountability official.
“Mustafa Kamal doesn’t deserve to be project director,” Kamal said, adding that the former mayor should have informed the authorities of his plan first instead of summoning them in the middle of the night and staging a dramatic scene before the media.
I had tolerated his criticism and abusive language for the sake of Karachi and thought he had some plan to resolve the perplexing issues but it turns out he is only playing politics on it, said Akhtar while talking to the media after suspending Kamal.
“He should have shared his plan about how he intends to clean Karachi in 90 days”.
Responding to Akhtar’s charges, Kamal said he was sincere in resolving the civic and administrative issues of Karachi, particularly removing the garbage from city streets. “If I was playing politics, I would not have called a man, who is the member of my opposing party, my boss in front of the entire world,” said Kamal told the media.
Kamal said that he had received calls from many NGOs that offered to help him but he refused because he “wanted to bring state machinery into use”. He regretted that his sincere offer was turned down and Akhtar instead played politics on a serious issue.
No-man’s-land: Karachi’s civic and municipal system has collapsed
Though all the major political parties — Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) — claim Karachi as their city, no one is taking the responsibility to resolve its burning issues, particularly heaps of garbage along the streets.
Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi had taken the initiative to clean the city’s drains, sewers and streets yet after “finding little support from the provincial government of PPP and the city government of MQM,” his Clean Karachi drive is of little help. As a result, garbage picked out of the sewers is dumped along the roads and the city or provincial government is unable to transport these mounds of garbage to landfills.
Interestingly, PTI wields power in the Centre, PPP in the province and MQM in the city and get their due share from the revenues generated from the city but when it comes to maintaining the minimum civic standards of the city and making it liveable, they simply shift responsibility to others.
Sindh government is running solid waste management and water boards, City government is responsible for municipal affairs, sanitation and cleanliness while federal government has the funds and showed the intention to spend on Karachi’s uplift. Despite all these intentions, Karachi continues to sink and stink. The recent rains and the post-Eid Al Adha crisis led to the collapse of Karachi’s civic and sanitation system and the city now stands most vulnerable to diseases that could erupt anytime because of garbage and accumulated water.
PSP Chairman and former Mayor of the City Mustafa Kamal is the latest political figure to have jumped into the mayhem with his claims of cleaning the city within 90 days but his tug-of-war with his arch rival Wasim Akhtar the current Mayor of the city serves to only disappoint the city dwellers who look for someone who instead of playing politics intends to remove the 12,000 tons of garbage the city is producing daily.