At least for now, Sindh MPAs are still deciding whether to oppose a move that could change the way new provinces are formed.
The contentious issue of a resolution against deleting Article 239 (4) from the constitution – which MPA Masroor Ahmed Jatoi attempted to recently move in the Sindh Assembly – has yet to be resolved.
A special committee set up to go over Jatoi’s resolution, under the supervision of education minister, Pir Mazharul Haq, did not have anything to report after its meeting on Wednesday.
The resolution by Masroor Jatoi, who belongs to the National Peoples Party (NPP), was referred to a committee of MPAs from all political parties.
The original resolution’s text, which was not formally taken up in the house of elected representatives, was later backed by several legislators from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and Awami National Party’s (ANP) Ameer Nawab. The NPP legislators took a vocal stance against a move by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in the National Assembly to delete Article 239 (4).
The article deals with amending the constitution. It reads: “A bill to amend the constitution which would have the effect of altering the limits of a province shall not be presented to the president for assent unless it has been passed by the provincial assembly of that province by the votes of not less than two-thirds of its total membership.”
If the article is deleted, the president will have the authority to constitute a province without the approval of that province’s legislators.
MQM parliamentary leader MPA Syed Sardar Ahmed and NPP MPA Arif Mustafa Jatoi told The Express Tribune that technical points about the resolution had been referred to Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro for clarification. The committee will meet again on February 13. Jatoi said that the NPP will continue to stand by its resolution.
However, a source close to the matter speculated that when the committee’s decision would come to a vote, it would emerge as a likely tie. The committee comprises representatives of six parties – the PPP, MQM, ANP, PML-F, NPP and PML-Q, as well as the PML-Q (likeminded), but the latter has not been officially recognised as a separate entity. In this event, the source said, the casting vote would go to Speaker Khuhro, who may not want to take responsibility for a decision with far-reaching political implications.
If the PPP sides against presenting the resolution, it could face renewed ire from nationalist parties as well as its constituents for paving the way for an amendment that could change the way new provinces are formed. However, agreeing to Jatoi’s resolution being passed means going against a key coalition partner – the MQM.
Sindh Information Minister Shazia Marri did not respond to a request for a comment. There is no timeframe for when the committee has to take a decision on the resolution.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2012.