11 October 2013

The other problems of Quetta

Courtesy: The Lahore Times

Whenever the name of Quetta is heard, the picture of a bomb-ridden, terrorism wrecked city comes in mind. It’s rightly so, because Quetta has been victim of many deadly terrorist attacks in recent past. Even now the terrorist activities are continuing unabated, with temporary delays. Terrorism is not the only problem of Quetta; it has several other problems, which has made life a living hell for the citizens of the city. These problems are related to bad governance, corruption and lack of resolve of successive governments to solve the problems of the provincial capital. 

Quetta was once known as Little Paris, due to its beauty and resemblance with Paris. However, now it is one of the most polluted cities in Pakistan. The problems started after a massive influx of Afghan immigrants in 1980, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Today, Quetta has a population of 2.5 million, according to modest estimates. This city was originally planned for 100,000 people by the British government. This unprecedented increase in population in a small valley has played a pivotal role in increasing the problems of the city.

The biggest problem of Quetta is the shortage of drinking water. Most of the residents in Quetta buy water from Water Tankers. Those people who can’t afford Water tankers, they have to spend precious time looking for free water Taps and hand pumps. Quetta has a serious shortage of water since the beginning of this century. According to experts, the problem of Water can be catastrophic in decades to come in Quetta. Added to that is the corruption in WASA, whose employees and officials take bribe and supply water illegally to gardens and other commercial users. The common and poor domestic users suffer as a result of apathy of government. The provincial government of Balochistan headed by Dr. Malik Baloch doesn't bother to take any action to solve this crisis. In past billions of rupees of funds had been allocated for water supply of Quetta but those funds went in pockets of bureaucrats and politicians. People continue to suffer and no one is there to take notice of this injustice, not even the vibrant mainstream media of Pakistan.

Water crisis is just a tip of the ice berg of all problems in Quetta. The condition of roads of Quetta city is deplorable. Any person who visits the Quetta for the first time can’t believe that this city is the provincial capital, after having a cursory look at the main roads of the city. Roads are broken everywhere and there is no maintenance and patching work. The situation of cleanliness on roads is also worse than one can imagine, after reading about the problems so far. There are heaps of garbage in every nook and corner of the city and as a result there is huge threat of spread of deadly contagious diseases. Albeit, Quetta has a metropolitan corporation with staff and budget but by looking at the condition of city, one doubts their existence.

The local administration of Quetta never fails to amaze the people for its incompetency and corruption. It’s a near impossible task to get some official work done from district administration without waiting for months or paying a huge some of money. This trend not only exists in district administration but also in federal departments such as WAPDA, Sui Gas etc. Sui Gas officials send heavy bills to customers on false pretexts of gas theft, and then take substantial amount of bribe to correct those bills. There is no one to take action against this sort of corruption on unprecedented scale. The darkness of corruption that is prevailing over Quetta is non-existent in rest of the country. NAB and anti-corruption establishment have never taken action against all those corrupt government servants, who are exploiting the poor and weak sections of society.

Apart from that it’s a crime to be rich in Quetta and the enforcers of this law are kidnapping for ransom gangs. In Quetta, if any person makes a lot of money and some how this becomes public knowledge then that person becomes a vulnerable target for Kidnapping. Doctors are the obvious victims because everyone knows which doctor is making huge amounts of money through his practice. Recently, famous cardiologist Dr. Munaf Tareen was kidnapped near FC headquarters, which is one of the most sensitive areas of the city. These doctors can only be released if their relatives pay a hefty ransom to the kidnappers which they are compelled to pay to save the life of their loved one. Despite being the most heavily guarded city of Pakistan, Quetta is a heaven for kidnappers and government has completely failed in protecting the lives and properties of citizens.

Quetta, My beautiful city, which was a heaven, has turned into an abyss of darkness. I have deliberately not discussed the terrorism issues, because it’s well known but the other problems of Quetta are often ignored and go un-noticed. Its not the government doesn't have the funds to correct things in the city or the terrorist activities don’t let the government carry out any development work in the city. Government is completely free and has the resources to solve all the aforementioned problems. One thing that it lacks is the political resolve to solve these problems. Most of the politicians come in power with the period of 5 years in mind which they think is too less for their loot and plunder of government resources. Therefore, they think they would be wasting their time if they spend it for public welfare. People of the city have no hope from the present rulers or the bureaucrats, who are equal culprits, for solution of their problems. The indifference of both these decision making groups towards public has resulted in chaotic situation of Quetta. If Pakistani mainstream media highlights the social and economical issues of Quetta regularly, maybe then something can happen otherwise people of Quetta don’t see any light at the end of tunnel.

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