City council criticises closure of Nadra KARACHI: The newly elected Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) council on Monday formally began its business by echoing the inconvenience more than 20 million citizens suffered due to repeated reduction in the number of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) centres for which the latter cited reasons that ‘purely reflects its own incompetence’.
The city council resumed the last day of its first session in which a large portion of its total strength of 308 members turned up. Sitting uncomfortably in the town hall despite increase in its seating capacity, they were seen well adapted to the day’s proceedings.
The jailed city mayor, Wasim Akhtar, could not attend and preside over the session. Deputy mayor Arshad Vohra said the municipal commissioner had again written a letter to the home ministry requesting for production of Mr Akhtar from jail to attend the session. “We got the court’s NOC but the home department has not permitted [him] for which no elucidation is offered,” said Mr Vohra.
None of the members from the opposition, nor the chair himself, spoke about the election of the opposition leader before furthering the proceedings. Previously, the chair had asked all the opposition groups to unanimously nominate one member among themselves to be leader of the opposition. The members later said they would decide about the matter in the next session.
Jailed city mayor Wasim Akhtar could not attend session
The members presented several resolutions in the house. Most of the members spoke at length over the resolution related to the closure of one of the two Nadra outlets in Baldia.
The movers, Zahid Mehmood and Nauman Khan of Baldia Town, said that Nadra authorities had closed the outlet two years ago, with the result that the remaining one outlet was overburdened to serve more than one million population of the area. They said the existing Nadra office, too, was being shifted to Haroonabad or Orangi Town, which would further increase hardship of the residents. They sought more facilities instead of being deprived whatever little had remained in Baldia.
Most of the members said it was not just Baldia which was suffering but the complaint against Nadra and its staff’s misbehaviour was common in other parts of the city also.
Pakistan People’s Party council leader Karamullah Waqas sought to know why Nadra centres were being closed one after another, while population of the city was on the rise. “People have to queue up outside Nadra offices since 5am and most of them even could not succeed to get them through despite losing their daily earnings.”
He was of the opinion that the resolution should encompass the entire city of Karachi and not just part of it. He added that a committee be formed to pursue the issue with the relevant authorities.
Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf council leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi said efforts should be made to get Nadra involved in improving its service in Karachi.
Abdul Samad Brohi complained about Nadra staff’s behaviour towards people, including the elected councillors, which he called ‘rascist’. “Every Pakhtun is not a Taliban and every Baloch is not a member of the Baloch Liberation Army,” he said.
Some other members, including those belonging to the ruling Muttahida Qaumi Movement, said people belonging to other communities, too, were being badly treated by Nadra officials in Karachi.
PPP’s council member from Lyari Habib Ahsan said one of the two Nadra offices in the area had been closed long ago. The reason given for the closure was that the office was involved in making fake CNICs, he said, adding that common people had nothing to do with the practice of making fake CNICs as Nadra was run by Islamabad. Mr Ahsan, however, walked out of the house when the chair asked him to cut his speech short.
Mirza Abbas Baig and several other members complained of hardships people faced at Nadra offices. Another member said Nadra officials used to deny CNICs to certain communities, suspecting them as ‘refugees’ or ‘illegal aliens’.
When put to vote, the resolution was adopted unanimously.
Mayor’s presence sought
Another resolution, which was adopted unanimously, expressed concern over not allowing the jailed mayor to attend the house. “Today’s session demanded that the authorities ensure Karachi mayor Wasim Akhtar’s appearance in the KMC council sessions by exercising all legal requirements.”
Members belonging to all political parties expressed their disappointment over the government’s refusal to Mr Akhtar to attend the session. They also asked the chair to inform the house about the reasons behind it.
Mr Vohra said the resolution was different from the previous one in which the house had demanded his release. He said this resolution demanded that Mr Akhtar be allowed to attend and preside over council sessions. He said the home ministry had not specified reasons for not allowing the mayor to attend the session.
New council hall
In another resolution, the house approved the construction of a new council hall as the existing one had turned overcrowded and uncomfortable.
The council also passed a resolution demanding that the Sindh government pay Rs500,000 per month instead of Rs100,000 to each union committee in the city under the head of Octroi Zila Tax.
Besides, the house condemned the violation of the ceasefire by Indian forces on the Line of Control and atrocities against the Kashmiris. They resolved that the Pakistani nation was with the armed forces shoulder to shoulder.
Several members complained that they had not got offices of union committees in their respective localities. The chair said the local government secretary was already informed about this problem.