KARACHI: Since the province’s two biggest political parties have been unable to reach an agreement, they have decided to postpone any decision making on the local government lawmaking by another 45 days.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) met on Friday night at the Chief Minister House to discuss the local government ordinance. They were, however, unable to reach a middle ground. This was the third deadline to pass, party workers reported. PPP MNA Qadir Patel, who is a member of the legal committee, said that almost all issues have been resolved. The problem, he said, was that all departments were busy preparing for next year’s budget, which will be finalised end of June.
The new LG system will be created after June, he added. The issue is the same: the PPP wants the 1979 ordinance under which Karachi will be divided into five districts. The MQM, on the other hand, favours the 2001 system which divides the city into 18 towns and five cantonments, with each town having a separate union council and nazim. Comments and promises to create an ordinance that has the best of both systems have yet to be converted into a bill.
The LG system was dissolved in February with much ado about swift decisions on which the ordinance will replace the 2001 system. The stipulated 30 days passed by and the deadline loomed closer with rumours rife about a deadlock between the PPP and the MQM. The Sindh governor decided to play it safe by postponing the date by 45 days, giving both parties more time to resolve their differences and find a middle ground.
The second deadline was to end on May 10 and déjà vu set in when both parties decided to postpone it further by 45 days. PPP was represented at the meeting by Pir Mazharul Haq, Murad Ali Shah, Agha Siraj Durrani, Najmi Alam and Saeed Ghani while Sardar Ahmed, Dr Sahgeer Ahmed, Wasim Aftab, Adil Siddiqui and Kanwar Naveed Jameel attended the meeting from the MQM’s side. The PPP is backed by its coalition partners, the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Functional), in its stance for the revival of the 1979 local bodies system.
“We made it clear to our coalition partners that the other three provinces are going to use the 1979 ordinance with some amendments, why should Sindh be the only province to reenact the 2001 system?” said a PPP core committee member. Talking to The Express Tribune, Sindh Labour Minister Amir Nawab, from the ANP, said that the LG elections were to be held within 120 days after the local bodies system was dissolved in February.
According to him, the matter would probably continue to be delayed. The elections will probably be held in August or September, he added. Meanwhile, the MQM’s Dr Sagheer Ahmed said that his party had no reservations and they would reach a consensus with the PPP very soon. However, workers on both sides maintained that the deadlock still exists, which is apparent by persistent postponements. “The revival of five defunct districts of Karachi and other constituencies in different districts is the bone of contention between the two parties,” workers from both sides said.
They have been unable to agree on who will get control of the police and revenue departments and whether the constituencies bifurcated during the tenure of Arbab Ghulam Rahim would be restored or not. The MQM wants to keep Karachi as one district as it has been since 2001. The PPP wants the five districts back since it has strong vote banks in three of the defunct districts, including Malir, South and West. “The main reservation we have is that under the 2001 LG ordinance, all the powers have been given to the district nazim,” said Iqbal Hyder, general secretary of the PPP, Sindh, “The PPP-dominated areas were neglected in the past city government’s tenure.
Development schemes and big projects were initiated in only those areas that fall under the limits of the Muttahida [MQM].” For their part, however, MQM leaders denied the charge, saying that they introduced development projects across the city without discrimination.