Karachi’s cry for help


It’s just unnatural for Karachi to drown and the rest of the country to feel nothing about it. For it’s not just various bonds that tie people from all parts of the country together but there’s also the economic angle to think about. Karachi contributes to highest to the revenue collection effort, after all, and if the annual monsoon season can disconnect the port city from the main grid for days on end, as it is doing right about now, then surely some bad news can be expected to show up in economic statistics sometime down the road. Already all sorts of private and public life, from homes to businesses, have had to be shut down because of the raging river-like look that the city is giving.
And since the annual rains are not confined to Karachi, and the state’s handling of the situation is pretty much similarly inefficient all across the country, the commerce ministry is rightly concerned about the export earnings staying on track. Just very recently Pakistan impressed everybody across the world, quite literally, by recording a jump in July’s export numbers. That, after all, was when practically the entire world was feeling the pinch because the pandemic had caused international trade to grind to a trickle. Now, if the advantage is lost just because we struggle to handle the aftermath of rains every year, and learn nothing from our own experiences, then the less said about it the better.
Now that the government has issued flood warnings, things are most likely to get even uglier. The federal government has, to its credit, offered to clean up as much of the mess as possible but that is not going to be the end of the matter. Therefore, the sooner all stakeholders put their heads together, as they seemed to be in the process of doing just a few days ago, and then translate their plans into meaningful actions, the better for everybody concerned. And the people of Karachi, even though they have suffered for so long for no fault of theirs, must know that correcting things is going to take a long time. A significant amount of the infrastructure will have to be torn down and built anew. There will also be a lot of litigation and needless delays. But unless all this is done, Karachi’s story will not change and therefore the whole country will keep struggling and suffering.