KARACHI: The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its former coalition partner, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), will hold a meeting today (Thursday) at CM House on the new local government law.
Apart from the MQM, the PPP will also hold similar talks with other parties in the opposition, such as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said Sindh Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro. He explained that the purpose of these meetings is to allow time for dialogue and feedback before the bill is tabled in the provincial assembly on August 19.
“After the MQM, we will hold meetings with other parties and the process will continue until August 17,” Mandhro told The Express Tribune. “Later, we will make the bill public via official website before introducing it in the assembly.”
According to Mandhro, they have already received feedback from various civil society organisations, political parties and people belonging to different spheres of life. “We had written letters to Sindhi nationalists, intellectuals, writers, poets and leaders of various political parties,” he said, adding the government received around 40 proposals. “Their input has also been incorporated in the new local government law.”
The government wants to make this new law free of controversies that is why government has started this dialogue process, stressed Mandhro. “It is a very sensitive issue and it needs comprehensive planning,” he said. “But the Supreme Court gave a deadline to hold the elections in September that is why we have to go fast.”
The MQM is, however, approaching this meeting with caution. The party conveyed its reservations with the members of local government committee constituted by government to frame the law and its leaders will attend today’s meeting to reiterate that MQM would not support this system. “We have already written to the provincial government on July 29 that MQM would only give its input if the Sindh Peoples Local Government Law 2012 is amended and implemented in the province,” said MQM leader Sardar Ahmed.
PML-N received a draft of the local government law and will submit its proposal by August 16. “We have formed a three-member committee that will study the law and suggest amendments during a meeting with committee members,” said PML-N leader Irfanullah Marwat.
Meanwhile, the PML-F has started consultations with their legal team and other experts and will submit a proposal to Pir Pagara before they send their suggestions to the government by August 17, said party MPA Imtiaz Shaikh.
PTI MPA Khurram Sher Zaman complained, however, that the Sindh government has yet to seek their input. “We held a meeting with the CM around three weeks ago and he assured us that the government will take us into confidence on the new local government law,” he said, adding that it was all in vain. “It seems the PPP is only concerned about the MQM’s reaction.”
The ruling party has a simple majority in the house and they can pass whatever bill they want to move in the provincial assembly, said Zaman, adding that the PTI will, nevertheless, oppose if the law is against the wishes of the people.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2013.