Thar seems to be at the bottom of every list when it comes to getting access to life’s essentials — like potable water. On Monday 13th March the Supreme Court took up the cudgels on the part of the benighted peoples of the Thar region, expressing an unusual degree of annoyance at the ‘lethargic attitude’ of the Sindh government when it comes to taking action against those that are responsible for failing to supply safe drinking water and poor sanitation. The problem is not limited to Thar though that is perhaps the most glaring example of dereliction of duty — the problem is province-wide. A three-member bench was considering a petition against the failure by the provincial government to provide safe drinking water and sanitation across the province. Assorted government officials and offices are now required to answer a range of questions posed by the bench, which was scathing in its criticisms of elected representatives. Of particular note was the lack of accountability, the failure by any failed officer or elected member to take responsibility for the situation and resign. Or even to take note of the misery and deprivation that was under their overpaid noses.
The chief secretary wrung his hands and begged time to appoint ‘qualified and competent persons’ to the posts of agriculture secretary and the managing director of the Karachi Water and Sewage board. Once again public servants find themselves in the pillory for failing at every level to serve the public. One never hears of any of these bumbling incompetents being summarily booted out and replaced by somebody who comes to work in the morning with their head on the right way up. The bench commented on the ‘moral deficit’ of those fingered in the report that remained at their posts despite obviously being unfit for the purpose. Sadly there is little chance of imminent improvement. Such lack of accountability is a nationwide malaise and unless and until the political spine is found to see these incompetents relieved of their posts — and their pensions — nothing will change. Meanwhile the people of Thar, parched and thirsty, look for relief. Dream on.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2017.