The name of the alley is Phool Patti Lane, flowers and leaves lane, but the only biological material to be found is human feces.
Raw sewage and household garbage has mixed with rainwater during the monsoon flooding this summer in Karachi’s Lyari town, a neighbourhood that was already blighted by decades of neglect and poor engineering.
“This is because we didn’t vote for the PPP this time and voted for Imran Khan,” said one resident. “This is the punishment for voting for Imran Khan… Each day we’ve become sweepers.”
People wade through the muck that was always present, but has risen to knee-level in the week of rains. This was the case with pretty much all of Karachi’s settlements and
planned neighbourhoods, prompting a public outcry when the city flooded because the sewers and stormwater drains were choked with garbage. PTI’s MNA Ali Zaidi of NA-244 made the grand promise to clean up the city in 10 days. A hashtag was generated. But it appears #LetsCleanKHI was not trending in Lyari.
“If you can’t turn Lyari into Paris at least turn it into Lyari,” said the elderly resident, when asked about the hashtag campaign. “We used to always vote for the PPP and it would still be like this. There is no one to take our concerns up the ladder, step by step.”
Lyari has mostly voted PPP but it was the last election that a former PPP worker, Shakoor Shad, switched party loyalties and joined the PTI. He won and was elected MNA for the area’s NA-246, in what analysts said was the PPP’s biggest defeat in Lyari since the 1970s.
Naya Din grilled him about Lyari’s condition on the show Sunday, Aug 11. He was interviewed from Islamabad. “I was in these alleys just ten days ago,” he started off by saying. “This isn’t just Phool Patti lane’s problem. UC1, UC2… This is the work of the local administration.”
The Naya Din team, Kiran Aftab and Mohammad Shueb, quickly pointed out that this was old rhetoric, to distance himself from the government machinery and say it was someone else’s job.
Anchor Shueb had just been to Lyari himself a day earlier to conduct interviews. He challenged MNA Shakoor’s claim he had been to Lyari.
“If you don’t believe me, check my official page, you’ll see pictures,” Shakoor Shad said, referring to when he went to condole the deaths of people who had died in the rain-related accidents.
The PTI MNA said that he had been sent to Islamabad to represent Lyari and be a lawmaker. It was the local councilor’s job to look at sewage. He said he had raised Lyari’s issues five times in the last year on the floor of the house.
MNA Shakoor went on to say that him and other MNAs have not received a single rupee to spend on development. “All MNAs are upset about this and have been saying this for three months,” he claimed.
He said he had given proposals to replace the old 1990s pumping machines in Lyari with Rs5 million. “I killed my ego and went to Bilawal Zardari to beg for this,” he said. “But he said that it was not his job. I should ask the people concerned.”
When grilled about the cleanliness campaign, the MNA said that Lyari would be cleaned in two weeks. He had been in touch with MNA Ali Zaidi and local government minister Nasir Shah had also promised resources. The anchors pressed him to give his cell number on air so that people could contact him from Lyari.