Larkana is the home of the Bhutto family. For generations the residents of the city have voted for the PPP and chanted ‘Larkana Bhutto ka [Larkana is the Bhutto’s]’ but will it remain theirs?
SAMAA TV anchor Faisal Karim visited the city’s children’s hospital and spoke to residents.
One man said he had no issues. Standing in a filthy hall where people slept on the ground next to their children who had been admitted to the facility, he said the facilities were perfectly fine. “I voted for Benazir,” he answered when asked who he voted for in the last election.
And this time? “Benazir,” he replied. When he was reminded that Benazir Bhutto died in 2007, he said I will vote for her son “Asif”.
The children’s play area at the hospital has been converted into a makeshift waiting area for families. Larkana is one of the hottest cities in the country, with temperatures hitting 49 or 50 degrees centigrade in the summer.
The entire hospital was hot and the lack of electricity made it sweltering. In one ward, incubators were lined up against a wall in a room with no electricity. People sat in the middle of the room, fanning themselves with traditional straw fans while keeping an eye on their babies.
The babies themselves were kept in incubators but with no electricity, the machines weren’t running.
An official of the hospital said the incubators worked when there was electricity but did not work on the generator. “We maintain the temperature in the incubators and a temporary halt in electricity doesn’t make a difference,” he said.
Round the clock electricity only matters for ventilators and we don’t have any, he explained.
In the same ward, multiple beds had more than one baby in them.
According to some paramedics at the hospital, who were sitting in a room where the air-conditioning was working, newborn babies need heat so the lack of electricity didn’t matter. While it is true that a newborn’s core temperature has to be maintained, that does not mean all electricity should be turned off.
There is no electricity at the hospital from 9am to 12pm every day and no way for staff to deal with emergencies if they crop up.
Opposition stands together
Opposition parties in NA-200 have banded together to contest the election against the PPP. The party’s chairperson, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, will be contesting from this constituency but he may face tougher competition than he or his party expected.
Rashid Soomro said their fight is not against a political party or slogan, but the true fight is against corruption.
Mian Muhammad Soomro, the former acting president of Pakistan and caretaker prime minister, said the dynamics of Jacobabad district have changed. “It’s an encouraging change,” he said, expressing his hope that their entire panel would be elected.
Syed Akbar Shah Rashidi said until Benazir’s death, each child in Larkana believed that she owned them and was with them. The injustices these people have done with the people of Larkana and the people of Sindh may not have been done anywhere else and the effects of it are visible across the province, he said.
When SAMAA TV spoke to former home minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, he was confident of his party’s ability to win the elections. “They banded together to contest the local government elections but only won six or seven union councils,” he said.
He said the PPP would win across Sindh and Pakistan.