The Supreme Court of Pakistan lambasted the authorities responsible for Karachi on Monday while hearing a case related to billboards being swept away during strong winds and causing injuries and deaths.
The SC bench, under Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, criticised Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, the Sindh government, electricity utility K-Electric and others over what it called dereliction of duty.
During the hearing, the CJP asked where the mayor of the city was, noting that Akhtar is always complaining about lack of powers.
“Go home if you do not have authority; why are you sitting as a mayor?” remarked the CJP.
Justice Ahmed then inquired about the tenure of the mayor, to which Akhtar, who presented himself before the court, responded that he will leave the post on August 28.
“Go, leave the city be,” lashed out the CJP, saying that the mayor of the city is responsible for the destruction of the city during their tenure.
“The mayor Karachi seems to have a vendetta against the city, [even though] people voted for him so that he could do something for Karachi,” said the judge.
SC orders to remove all billboards
The CJP also commented on the issue of billboards causing accidents in the city, asking Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shalwani to submit a report on the matter.
The Advocate General, Sindh was also present, who told the court that a case has been registered in the matter.
“The entire city is full of billboards,” said the judge, adding that if these fall down then they can cause severe damage.
“Let us do an inquiry on the past five years to see who installed these billboards,” remarked Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan.
“There are so many billboards that airflow has been restricted. This is a violation of the law,” said the CJP.
The SSP South told the court that a case has been registered against two suspects for installing faulty billboards and that a search is underway.
“Have they gone hiding in the sea? Don’t give lame statements before the court and go find them within half an hour,” the CJP remarked.
The commissioner Karachi then told the court that people have erected billboards on private property, and that hundreds of billboards were removed over the last four years.
Later, the judges directed the officials to remove all the billboards and signboards from the city.
‘Where is the writ of the Sindh govt?’
The CJP continued questioning the authorities, remarking that the Sindh government and the local bodies are ‘enemies of the city’.
The CJP said that there does not seem to be any governance in Karachi.
“Where is the writ of the Sindh government?” he asked the officials present before the court.
He continued that the billboards issue has been in violation of building codes and the entire city presents a dismal picture due to piles of garbage and dirt.
“It seems everyone takes out their chunk and abandons the city,” he said, adding that it looked like everyone is a part of a mafia.
The apex court then lambasted the sole power supplier of the city, saying that it will issue an order against KE.
The CJP said that a case should be registered against KE and its entire administration should be placed on the ECL.
He added that the directors of the power supplier should be arrested and sent to jail.
“Daily 8 to 10 people die due to electrocution,” said the CJP, adding that KE has meanwhile collected billions and trillions in its coffers.
Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar admitted that the apex court’s anger towards him was justified but repeated that the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) does not have any authority.
The mayor, while talking to the media outside the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry, also defended his decision not to resign from his post.
Akhtar said he did not resign as he was “fighting a war” to improve local bodies across the country.
“This is the fight that I did in four years. KMC did not have the departments which would have solved the problems of the city,” said Akhtar. He added that whoever replaces him will not be able to “deliver” with the current authority given to the KMC.
“If there was anyone other than me they would also not be satisfied with their performance because nothing is being given to you,” said the Karachi mayor. He also urged the CJP to take up his petition regarding the implementation of Article 140-A.
“Karachi’s situation cannot improve till Article 140-A is not implemented in letter and spirit,” said Akhtar.