SITUATIONER: Rebirth of Larkana
Larkana: During a recent press conference in Multan, the co-chairman of Pakistan’s People’s Party, Asif Ali Zardari said, “Inshallah is election main hum Punjab lenge, Poora Punjab leke isko hum jis tarah banaege phir unko samajh aegi ke banta kis tarah hai.” (God willing, in the next elections we are going to sweep the whole of Punjab, after taking Punjab the way we will develop it they would know how it is done).
The vote bank of the kingdom of Bhutto, the Pakistan’s People party have had a stronghold in Larkana since its inception and have always been a target of criticism for the development of the city.
Being home to two former Prime Ministers, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, Larkana got a strong political identity. The political roots further strengthened themselves after the hanging of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the untimely murder of Benazir Bhutto, tragic death of his sons, both Shahnawaz and Murtaza Bhutto. But have the representatives of this party been able to reciprocate all of the love and loyalty given to them by their supporters and the people of Larkana considering PPP as their ‘own’ party?
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, in his speeches, regarding Larkana said that he is going to make it the Paris of Pakistan.
Benazir hoped to complete her father’s dream during her lifetime but life had something else planned for her. On the contrary, various opposition parties have compared Larkana to the likes of Mohen-jo-daro claiming that the state of the streets of Larkana is no better than that of ancient city. The reality, on ground, however, is very different. Larkana is neither the Paris, nor the Mohen-jo-Daro of Sindh. So, what actually Larkana looks like?
Larkana, the fourth largest city of Sindh, according to popular public opinion, has seen a lot of development in the last year-and-a-half or so. Roads and bridges had been built. A highway is being constructed, hospital being inaugurated. More and more parks being opened and cleanliness is being taken special care of. Initially, all the waste of the city used to get dumped in the rice canals but now it goes to the scrap canals.
PPP Senator, Aajiz Dhamra speaking to this scribe, about the developments stated that much has been done like the Gambat Bridge which connects Larkana from Khairpur has been completed which not only links both the districts Larkana and Khairpur but also connects the National Highway with the Indus Highway and provide an alternative route for transport.
All the connecting roads, the Chadka Medical University being made, Intermediate Board, Sindh Medical University’s campus and the Quaid-e-Azam Engineering University’s campus was brought to Larkana. He also answers the allegation put on them about the 90 billion rupees saying that they had only received 30 billion out of which 25 billion came from National Highway Authority (NHA) which were used for the construction of the roads.
Larkana is also popular for some significant monuments not known to many, which are not only a sight to see but also very well maintained. Like for example, the Ata Turk towers laid by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1972 in Larkana was actually in honor of the founder of Turkey Kamal Ataturk. The Ata Turk towers has same symbolic value for Larkana, what Minar-e-Pakistan does for Lahore. Also, in the middle of the town is the Sukarno Tower. The monument was built by the then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in respect of Indonesian President Sukarno.
Then there is the tank chowk in which Bhutto had brought an Indian tank from the war and kept there as a memory of the 1965 battle with India. There is also a Larkana Bench which Benazir Bhutto completed in her second tenure and the famous Gari Khuda Baksh cricket stadium in which a national level match was organized by then Pakistan Cricket chief Zaka Ashraf in 2013.
Larkana is not only what we have heard of it. Mostly, opinions are made on what people hear. But like it is said, there are always two sides to a story. The PPP had been in power in Sindh since 2008 but it is only recently that it has started working on the development of it.
The contrasting public opinion of Larkana shows the picture of roads that are being constructed, or the highways, the parks, hospital, cleanliness is because the elections are near or that it is a tactic of the PPP to fool voters of Larkana, yet again. Or because of the action by country’s accountability watchdog had taken against the corruption they had allegedly been doing for years.
A certain percentage of the people are also of the opinion that whatever work is being done has its courtesy to the courts and the stand it has taken, not by the PPP. They believe that they are, at least, 40 years behind compared to the other cities of Pakistan like Karachi and Lahore.
Larkana is still on road to development with a long way in fulfillment of Zulfilqar Ali Bhutto’s dream if, that is ever made a goal by the current ruling leaders of his party. The city, however, cannot be compared to the likes of Mohen-jo-Daro keeping in view completion of the mega infrastructure projects in recent times.
It’s certain that rabble-rousing [from detractors] with a sole aim of misleading the voters of Larkana may not work this time around.
The ongoing construction and development of the city speaks volumes about ‘dedication’ of those triggering this unprecedented work. Serving masses with an unflinching conviction could only save the PPP from shooting itself in the foot…or else, the lingering ‘status-quo’ with a Bhutto sloganeering will likely die a death.