While terming the recently announced prime minister’s Rs 1.1 trillion Karachi Transformation Package nothing but a lollipop, speakers at a programme said that a city, which sustains the whole country, deserves better. They said its chronic issues could only be addressed by a financially autonomous local government representing its people. The discussion on ‘What should be the priority of the Karachi Transformation Package’ was held at the Pakistan-American Cultural Centre. Organised by Karachi Citizens’ Forum (KCF), the event also saw speakers demanding a census reflecting the actual population of the metropolis so that the city could develop on a sound foundation. “The package is of no consequence. The city generates [revenue] 10 times more [than] this amount. Second, the announcement should have been backed by thorough planning, which isn’t the case. In fact, the prime minister’s announcement was soon followed by provincial government’s criticism, reflecting poor communication and trust deficit between the two governments,” said Syed Khawar Mehdi, associated with Commonwealth Karachi, a think tank. Recalling Karachi’s devastation in the aftermath of monsoon rains last month, KCF convener Nargis Rahman said it exposed shortcomings of the civic infrastructure, demanding representation of city’s stakeholders including seasoned urban planners, architects and representation from the labour groups in the committee established for the implementation of Karachi package. The package, she pointed out, won’t uplift Karachi unless there was transparency and accountability.Zahid Farooq of the Urban Resource Centre said the city contributed over 90 per cent and 65pc revenue to the provincial and the federal government, respectively. But, what it received in return was peanuts. “Today, Karachiites are deprived of basic civic utilities including clean drinking water and a functional waste management and transport system. If the government just plugs leakages in the distribution system, it could save up to 100mgd of water daily that would help address water shortages in the city,” he said.Criticising the Karachi package, architect Sameeta Ahmed said while half of its amount was meant for already functional projects, the federal government had not yet shared complete details of the package. She also called for a technical assessment of the urban flooding the city experienced last month as encroachment of water channels was a major reason behind it. Dr Qaiser Sajjad of the Pakistan Medical Association highlighted the adverse impact of degraded civic infrastructure especially after the monsoons on public health, calling upon the representatives of civil society to build pressure on the government to deliver.Architect and founder Chhaoon Komal Pervez spoke about personal responsibility and said small efforts carried out with strong commitment could make a big difference. Industrialist Mirza Ikhtiar Baig and film director Amna Khan also spoke.