The shenanigans of the PML(N) and the PTI over the inauguration of the Green Line Bus in Karachi, both trying to claim some sort of credit for the project, may have gained in vigour because of the approaching of general elections. Prime Minister Imran Khan duly inaugurated the project on Friday, while the day before, an attempt by the PML(N) activists to hold a symbolic inauguration ceremony was foiled by the law-enforcing agencies.
The PML(N) is particularly incensed because it would like to be credited with the project. It is, like the Metros in Lahore, Multan and Islamabad, a project linked to the PML(N). Mr Khan being in office was obviously going to inaugurate it, but while in Karachi, he also stressed the importance of the K-IV project, meant to supply all Karachi with water. It would begin in January, and be completed in 14 months. Its completion would precede the next general election by a matter of months.
That project would indicate the real reason for the scuffle over the Green Line inauguration. The PTI wants the credit for having achieved something in Karachi, where it performed well in 2018, as does the PML(N). It is noticeable that the PPP stayed out of the matter, and KMC Administrator Murtaza Wahab limited himself to criticising Imran for not paying enough attention to inflation.
The PTI and PML(N) have had some success in Karachi when the MQM was weak or weakened. The MQM’s silence about the project is of significance. As a party which has been out of power for several years, it has little to show in terms of development, but it remains an important stakeholder in the city.
The PPP may have ruled the province since 2008, but it has limited success in Karachi, though it has won a national by-election seat recently. An underlying problem has to be solved. While parties will inevitably step up the search for electoral control before elections, there must be some modicum of civilized behaviour. Such an agreement is needed soon, for there are still nearly two years to the election, and projects will be completed with one name on the inauguration plaque, with the original conceiver depending on the public memory to give credit where credit is due.