Less than 24 hours after the Sindh Peoples Government Ordinance 2012 was signed by Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad, with Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah looking on, a political storm has been whipped up in the province – and it comes not from the opposition, but the ruling party’s own allies.
The storm in Sindh has already begun reaching the centre, with protests in the National Assembly and Senate on Friday.
In response to the ordinance, which will see the setting up of metropolitan corporations in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas and Larkana districts, and district councils in the remaining districts, at least five ministers allied with the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) have resigned from the Sindh government.
While the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), perceived as the principal proponent of the new system, has welcomed the ordinance, all other coalition partners in the Sindh government – the Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), National Peoples Party (NPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) – have parted ways with the ruling party.
With the departure of five ministers of parties allied with the PPP, Sindh’s coalition government has collapsed. But that’s not the extent of it: In addition, Sindhi nationalists have decided to hold a strike next week.
The Awami National Party (ANP), a key ally of the PPP, infuriated by what transpired, had Sindh Labour Minister Ameer Nawab march to the Chief Minister House and resign. Talking to the media, Nawab said, “When we earlier had a discussion with the government, we had the same reservations. They told us that they will hold talks with us before the ordinance is signed, but there were no talks.”
PML-F followed suit soon after. Jam Madad, the minister for science and technology, Rafique Banbhan, auqaf minister, special education adviser Imtiaz Shaikh (status of minister), adviser on mines Abdul Razzaque Nasir Nizamani, special assistant Noor Hassan Khaskheli, and special assistant Khadim Hussain Arain also resigned.
Another coalition partner, the NPP, which has three seats in Sindh and two in the National Assembly (NA), was fuming at the ordinance. Abid Jatoi, minister for livestock, resigned. By the end of Friday, the coalition was in tatters: Five ministers, two advisers and a special assistant had resigned.
Nationalists order strike on Sept 13
On Thursday, September 13, a provincial wide shutter down will be observed in Sindh to protest against the new local government system, Sindh Bachayo Committee convenor and Sindh United Party chief Jalal Mahmood Shah said.
ANP boycotts NA session
The ANP on Friday also condemned “the division of Sindh” through the Sindh Peoples Government Ordinance 2012, and boycotted the entire current session of the National Assembly in protest. ANP MNA Pervez Khan said his party would not attend the session until the government addressed its concerns.
Pervez Khan said his party will now decide its future line of action, before walking out of the NA session flanked by his party members. He alleged President Asif Ali Zardari was mutilating the Constitution by interfering in provincial affairs. “PPP is ready to divide the country into many pieces,” he said.
ANP also termed the ordinance a conspiracy to delay the upcoming election. PPP’s chief whip in the National Assembly, Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurseed Shah refuted his claim, saying the election would be held on time, as it was his party’s pledge to the nation to hold it as per schedule. He said similar ordinances were also enacted in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, hence it was unfair to only question such a system for Sindh. He also said his party consulted all stakeholders of the province before agreeing on and signing the ordinance.
Pervez Khan denied his party was taken into confidence, saying it was all done on the behest of a specific political party (referring to MQM), and ignoring over 5 million Pakhtuns living in the province.
Ghaus Bux Mehar of PML-F also voiced his concern over the ordinance and insisted that his party was not consulted either. MQM’s Wasim Akhtar endorsed Khursheed Shah’s stance on the issue, saying that all stakeholders of the province were taken on board in this regard.
The controversy over the promulgation of the Sindh Peoples Government Ordinance 2012 also spilled over into the Senate, as the ANP boycotted its proceedings as well on Friday.
The issue completely overshadowed all other proceedings. The debate on target killings and sectarian violence in Balochistan, Karachi and Gilgit-Baltistan, for which two days were dedicated, was swept aside.
Senator Shahi Syed of ANP termed the ordinance a conspiracy to divide Sindh, saying it would benefit only one party [referring to MQM]. He warned the issue would provide an opportunity for the extremists to exploit the situation.
MQM’s Nasreen Jalil defended the ordinance, insisting the decision should have been taken much earlier.
Muzaffar Husain Shah of PML-F and Haji Muhammad Adeel of ANP also spoke against the ordinance. Adeel said it was a conspiracy to divide Sindh and announced that ANP will boycott the NA and Senate proceedings in protest.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2012.
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