KARACHI, Pakistan – The first flooding occurred when weeks of monsoon rains flooded neighborhoods in Karachi, sending sewage and garbage through Pakistan's largest city. Then there were long power outages, sometimes 60 hours and counting.
And then things got worse: Karachi is now plagued by swarms of flies. The bugs seem to be everywhere in every neighborhood, bazaar and shop, and they spare no one. They are a bullying mob on sidewalks that flies in and out of shops, cars, and homes, settling on every available underground, from vegetables to humans.
Flies and floods can often belong together, and Karachi is no stranger. Dr. Seemin Jamali, director of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, one of the largest public hospitals in Karachi, said that this was the worst fly infection she had ever seen.
The city launched a gassing trip but the flies stay and the frustrations increase. Everything draws new attention and anger at the city's long-standing problems with garbage and drainage – an issue that has for years been aimed at political factions, but which has not improved.
Experts say that this was probably a problem due to the combination of stagnant rainwater that stood in the city for days, with garbage on the streets, and wastes from animals raised during the recent Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha were slaughtered.
Dr. Noman Ahmed, a city water expert and dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Management, NED University of Engineering and Technology, said the recent rainfall was not really exceptional. Karachi's problems with urban development, sewage, waste management and water pollution, including how the city's natural outflows are used as landfills for solid waste, are what the rains revealed.
"The nature of the devastation it has arisen – if there are still a few such spells, the city will be completely inoperative," said Dr. Ahmed.
Dr. Jamali said that due to unhygienic conditions, a litany of medical conditions and illnesses is on the rise: malaria, gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, dengue fever, chikungunya virus, respiratory disease and Congo fever.
"As a Community, We Have We Have to Blame ourselves," she said, noting how people threw offal offals from offspring. "We collected these garbage piles."
On a Monday afternoon, traders around the Bohri bazaar fanned their goods to keep the flies at bay. Flies flew in and out of shops and sat down with cloths and towels.
Muhammad Ismail Siddiqui, 54, a seller of traditional sweets such as Jalebi and Gulab Jamun, had coated them with clear plastic for protection.
] "No, no, no," Mr. Siddiqui said when asked if the flies were just a seasonal threat. In recent years, the government has organized fumigation trips that took place early in the morning.
"But now there's nothing – we can not do anything, we're helpless." The business is completely finished, "he said. "Whoever comes, just look at the flies."
A sugarcane juice shop on the same street was also overcrowded, and the shopkeepers there too were desperate.
"There is no cure," said Shahid, 45, who gave only one name. "We've tried everything – spraying, lighting," he said, pointing to a charred tin in which a fire had been set in the hope that the smoke would disperse the flies. "If you spray, they go away and then come back."
Also on the Internet there is no break from the beetles in which Karachi residents respond with memes and their hometown the "city of" call flies.
The city's policies have been heavily blamed, and the parties fighting for influence in Karachi have not overlooked it. In recent days, the sanitation has become again a collective call – and a political weapon – for politicians.
The Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which holds power in the national government, is attempting to defend its base in Karachi against the traditional provincial powerhouse, the Pakistan Peoples Party or PPP.
A local lawmaker for the PTI launched a campaign "Let's clean Karachi," which implicitly proclaims the P.P.P. for the garbage problem. Saeed Ghani, a P.P.P. Senator, claims that the campaign worsened the crisis by improper cleanup.
Karachi – where it has become common practice to clean up rubbish on roadsides and empty plots – would be a big and expensive task.
The city produces about 12,000 tons of garbage every day. Karachi's resources and infrastructure have not withstood the pressure of constant expansion, population growth and lifestyle changes of more than 15 million people. And it suffers from the same vulnerability to climate change issues that hit the rest of Pakistan so hard.
In addition, the management of Karachi is complex and fragmented: waste management and municipal services are handled by different authorities. Buildings are built over drains. Large parts of the city, including some of its classiest neighborhoods, are cantonal areas that are managed separately.
"The viability of Karachi is falling," Dr. Ahmed, water expert. "The city needs a kind of sanitary emergency," he said – one that would mobilize the province's resources to eradicate waste from roads and drains and create a new sanitation management system from scratch. But the beetles seem unwilling to adhere to political boundaries.
"There is an abundance of flies," said Ismail Lalpuria, a furniture retailer in the area of Arambagh in Saddar, who lost patience with the damage to his business. "All political parties are just politics," he said. "Nobody does work."