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Experts call for establishment of two more metros in Sindh for balanced development

By Our Staff Correspondent 2018-03-14
JAMSHORO: Speakers at a dialogue on development in Sindh underscored the need for structural reforms in the province and establishment of at least two metropolitan centres that would compete with Karachi to have balanced development in Sindh.

Stating that transparency in governance and meritbased system were prerequisites for reforms, they added that Karachi was witnessing demographic changes at a fast pace and if it continued, Pakhtuns would be the single largest group in the metropolis.

They were speaking at the `Sindh development dialogue 2018: contextualising the past, envisaging the future` held on Tuesday at the US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water at the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET).

Former State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor Dr Ishrat Hussain and eminent economist Dr Kaiser Bengali were keynote speakers.

MUET Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Aslam Uqalli, former VC Dr Rajah Memon, Abrar Kazi, noted civil rights campaigner Shahab Usto, the centre`s project director Dr Bakhshal Lashari and Zulfiqar Halepoto also spoke.

Dr Hussain based his lecture on the findings of his forthcoming book on Sindh`s economy and dilated on the gap among basic amenities for the people living in remote and other areas.

He called for improvinggovernance and institutional capability of the provincial and district governments. Institutional capacity should be backed by transparency, rule of law and robust freedom of information law, he added.

Observing that inhabitants of katchi abadis did not have title of their property or assets, he said 50 per cent population of Karachi, Nawabshah and Hyderabad did not have title of their homes, which deprived them of moving up the ladder.

He noted that scientists of Dokri rice research institute were working in secretariat as deputy secretary and section officers. `Who will do research? Scientists should be in institutes and that`s why new varieties are not being introduced. Animal husbandry services are quite antiquated,` he observed.

`If we switch over to high value-added farm produces, we can touch $600m output and transfer of wealth to farmers through this output will be considerable,` he said.

He added: `There was no fault with [past] local government system, but there was no monitoring system, no policy directives and no auditing of accounts which are in fact safeguards.

He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa gave more powers to LGs as compared to Sindh or Punjab and there was a lot happening there at the district level.

Dr Kaiser Bengali likened Sindh as Pakistan`s OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries). He said that with 90pc of coal deposits and 72pc of gas production, there was no reason thatpeople did not get education and health facilities or face unemployment.

But, he said, realities were different and could be understood from conditions prevailing in Ghaggar Phatak and Karachi, which were located a few kilometres apart. `This few kilometres` distance takes you 50 to 100 years backward, he observed.

Sharing his experience as a government planning and development adviser, he said planning did not mean determining price structure and launching schemes.

The government usually focused on schemes without planning and vision, he added.

Advocating improvement in water efficiency, he said that its use would have to be connected with modern farm practices. He opposedsugar cane cultivation in Sindh as it caused waterlogging.

He lauded Sindh government`s efforts on Thar Coal Project which he said would be producing 20,000MW of electricity without losing foreign exchange.

He said development had a cost and admitted that effluent was hitting aquifers.

He advocated connectivity of roads in order to create two metropolitan centres near Hyderabad and Sukkur, which would compete with Karachi to ensure a balanced development in Sindh.

He said that such centres would create a magnate of employment.

Mr Bengali disclosed that indigenous population of Karachi in 1941 was 61pc and Urdu-speaking peoplewere 6pc and Pakhtuns 3pc.

In 1953, he said, Sindhis were 16pc, Urdu speakers 50pc and in 1998 census, Sindhis were 13pc, Urdu speakers 48pc and Pakhtuns 16pc.

He observed that with this demographic change, Pakhtuns would be the single largest group in Karachi by 2045 with 30pc of population. He said Thatta could become part of Karachi economically with a road network as multiplier effect of Karachi`s development was zero.

It could be done through public policy and planning, he said, adding that roads played an important role in rural economy.

He maintained that be it a chaudhry or a wadera, both felt threatened by development. He said feudalism was a political entityand a pir/feudal lord exercised more power than his wealth proportionately.

`When you have a political leadership that is actually not interested in development, you will never have development,` he said, adding that unless the dinosaur of obsolete system was eliminated, people could not have a humane regime.

Shahab Usto talked about water analysis reports compiled in the backdrop of his petition and formation of a judicial commission which he said remain uncontested.

He said he himself was not comfortable with judicial activism which amounted to intruding into executive`s domain.

However, `what should we do when the government doesn`t work and leave our children to die or fall prey to ailments?,` he asked.