Courtesy: PSL 2018 finale: Karachi gets breakthrough

The prospects of international cricket in Karachi, the country's economic hub and financial centre, have certainly received a major boost following the successful holding of the final match of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2018 on Sunday. An estimated 40,000 people thronged the mega city's National Stadium to watch the last match of PSL 2018 Twenty20 league between Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United in an atmosphere characterized by non-stop gaiety of cricket fans belonging to all age groups. No doubt, the PSL 2018 finale, which former Pakistan cricket team captain Misbahul Haq's Islamabad United won by three wickets, will certainly add to Karachi's investment prospects. There is also no doubt about the fact that stringent measures were in place to ensure peace and security. Karachiites' incredible response to the presence of national and international cricketers in their midst sent a strong message across that Karachi's image drought is now over: international cricket and other global sports events are going to return anytime soon. That Karachi, which generates 65 percent of country's revenue, has suffered much too much for far too long is a fact. Pakistan's first capital and its only city that hosts not one but two operational ports had been meted out a stepmotherly treatment by successive governments in Islamabad; the governments in Sindh were not sympathetic to the needs of this burgeoning city, either. How ironic it is that Karachi, a city of teeming millions, is still struggling to get a mass transit system while Punjab is already having this facility in Rawalpindi, Lahore and even Multan.
The question therefore is: why does Karachi continue to suffer? There could be many answers to this question. Not only has political unrest that prevails in Karachi since the days of Pakistan National Alliance movement against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto deprived it of any new opportunities to develop properly, it has created a widening gulf between Karachi's planning needs and Islamabad's Planning Commission; and that gulf is widening day by day. Transport, sewerage, water, health, education, etc., continue to constitute formidable challenges to the lives of its residents who hail from all parts of Pakistan, and even beyond. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the political party that has been enjoying Karachiites' mandate for nearly four decades, is equally responsible for this city's woes.

In his response to this successful mega event in Karachi, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has averred that this event will help Karachi restore its image. The prime minister is absolutely correct. But he must not lose sight of the fact that this city deserves special attention of those in power mainly because of its ethno-demographic complexities and strategic significance. In other words, no policymaker should try to see Karachi through inter-city or inter-provincial or intra-provincial prism: Karachi has a different history and different needs. That law and order situation in Karachi is better since the Rangers-led operation began in 2013 is a fact. The government coming to power as a result of the 2018 general elections, too, will be required to show no complacency towards Karachi's law and order as political violence in this city has already led to relocation of industry to Punjab and even outside Pakistan. The Pakistan Cricket Board, two finalist teams, security agencies, others and the people of Karachi deserve special commendations for making a highly valuable contribution towards efforts aimed at restoring Karachi's pre-1980 image.

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