Voice of Karachi chairman Nadeem Nusrat unveils plan of creation of 'Greater Karachi' region in Washington DC
Voice of Karachi chairman Nadeem Nusrat unveils plan of creation of 'Greater Karachi' region in Washington DC

Voice of Karachi unveils plan for creating 'Greater Karachi' region

ANI | Updated: Jan 23, 2019 12:07 IST

Washington DC [USA], Jan 23 (ANI): The Voice of Karachi, a US-based advocacy group for the rights of Urdu-speaking people of Karachi, has demanded the Pakistan government to declare Karachi and other urban areas of Sindh province as an autonomous region within Pakistan.
The demand was made by the group's chairman Nadeem Nusrat at 'Meet the Press' event in Washington DC. The event was attended by former Congressman Tom Garrett, prominent Republican leader Puneet Ahluwalia, and media persons.
Garrett, who is now working to promote religious freedom as well as to highlight persecution faced by religious minorities worldwide, announced his decision to join Voice of Karachi and South Asia Minorities Alliance Foundation as an advisor.
Extending his full support to the plan for establishing an autonomous region in Pakistan similar to the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, the former member of Congress from Virginia underlined that region in the strife-torn country turned out to be a great success.
He stated that its capital city Erbil is among the five safest cities in the world despite being located in a region marred by armed conflicts.
Garrett also condemned the murder of Mohajir lawmaker Ali Raza Abidi in Karachi. He further said that the people of Karachi have a right to have autonomy.
Nusrat, while speaking at the event, said that despite 70 years of the creation of Pakistan, the Mohajirs have still not been accepted worthy of equal rights.
"The Voice of Karachi core committee has been working tirelessly for the last many months to find a viable solution that could resolve urban Sindh's longstanding, chronic issues such as growing unemployment and poverty, lack of urban representation in police and government jobs, gerrymandering in electoral constituencies, massive rigging in census figures, human rights abuses, lack of investment in infrastructure and a number of other similar issues," he said.
"Today, on civil rights legend Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Voice of Karachi formally demands the State of Pakistan to declare the urban areas of Sindh province as an autonomous region within the boundaries of Pakistan. We have unanimously decided to call this region ' Greater Karachi '," he added.
Defending his decision to create an autonomous region within Pakistan, Nusrat argued, "The creation of an autonomous region within the boundaries of a sovereign country is not a strange phenomenon at all. The Balkan region is an example where Bosnian, Serbs and Croats have finally been working together after years of fighting that claimed tens of thousands of lives and destroyed entire towns and cities."
The Voice of Karachi chairman further said that the proposed Greater Karachi assembly will have control over the region's resources and will be responsible for its development, education, health, taxes, disaster management, infrastructure, and domestic law and order.
"The Greater Karachi government will only focus on regional issues and foreign, economic and defence policies will continue to remain the domain of the federation. It will provide hope to urban Sindh's millions of unemployed youths, wherein Pakistan's extremist bodies are trying to lure into their deadly trap by radicalising them," Nusrat said.
He argued that Karachi, with an estimated population of over 25 million people, deserves a similar status more than any other region in the world.
"Since the creation of Pakistan, this province has never had an elected Mohajir chief minister despite the presence of majority Mohajir population in Sindh. The imposition of rural-urban quota system since the 1970s has already clearly divided the province into two distinct regions," Nusrat asserted.
Expressing concerns of the administrative chaos in Karachi, Nusrat said, "Karachi's lucrative land has made the city a prime target for the country's corrupt and lawless land mafias including the military-backed and military-run real estate businesses and cantonment boards. The Sindh government, which is dominated by the province's rural population, has left Karachi's mayor with absolutely no control over the city's resources and administration through a series of legislative orders."
Acknowledging the experts' views that Karachi is at a high risk of natural and human-made disasters, the Voice of Karachi chairman stressed that the city requires financial assistance between USD 9 billion to USD 10 billion, as proposed by the World Bank, over a 10-year period to meet its infrastructure and service-delivery needs in urban transport, water supply and sanitation, and municipal solid waste.
He underlined that the current infrastructure spending by the public sector is well below the requirements.
Speaking about the grim human rights situation and enforced disappearances in Sindh, Nusrat said, "Karachi is not just a city badly neglected by successive Pakistani governments, it is also a victim of large-scale human rights violation. Since the late 1980s, Karachi's Mohajir localities have suffered from multiple armed attacks which have left thousands dead. Sindh's second largest city, Hyderabad has also experienced terrorist attacks at the hands of establishment-backed Sindhi nationalists."
"Since 1992, over 25 thousand Mohajirs have been killed extrajudicially during a series of military operations in urban Sindh. Enforced disappearances are a common occurrence in Karachi and even today, hundreds of Mohajirs are missing after being taken into custody by law enforcement agencies," he added.
In his concluding remarks, the Mohajir leader said that he was optimistic about the creation of Greater Karachi and hoped that once a reality, the proposed autonomous region will also be a safe haven for Pakistan's oppressed religious minorities.
"Every citizen will be eligible to run for any state office and will not be discriminated against on the basis of ethnicity, religion, sect and gender. With its liberal, tolerant and inclusive laws, and business-friendly policies, the Greater Karachi region will soon become a role model for other regions in Pakistan," Nusrat further said as he unveiled the map of the autonomous region. (ANI)