KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly once again amended the local government (LG) law to increase the reserved seats for women in local bodies from 22 to 33 on Tuesday.
Moreover, the amendment fixed five per cent quota each for the youth, non-Muslims and labourers/peasants in the local bodies.
Moving the Local Government (Second Amendment) Bill 2016, senior minister for parliamentary affairs, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, said the law was being made to comply with the Supreme Court (SC) orders. This bill had earlier been passed by the assembly in August, 2015, but the Sindh High Court (SHC) had turned it down after some political leaders challenged the 'show of hand' provision in the law for the election of mayor and chairman in the province. The SHC not only ordered to hold the mayor's election through secret balloting, but also reduced the reserved seats of women from 33 to 22 and abolished the youth quota.
Reserved seats: Names of winning candidates notified
When the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government challenged the SHC's decision in the apex court, the SC upheld the court's decision pertaining to the secret ballot election process, but directed the provincial government to revive the women's quota to 33 per cent and ensure a five per cent quota for the youth, non-Muslims and labourers/peasants.
"We have to obey the orders of the Supreme Court, which is why we want to move this bill," said Khuhro.
Meanwhile, all the opposition parties supported the law, which was passed unanimously.
Khuhro also moved another bill to make an amendment in the LG law, but it was deferred till today (Wednesday). Through this second amendment, the government wants to appoint officers to monitor LG functions. "We want to strengthen the LG law, which is why we want to make this amendment in its section 18-A," said Khuhro, adding that the Sindh government will also pass the law to implement the apex court's orders to hold the LG election through secret ballot.
Khawaja, who belongs to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), objected to the amendment. "There is no such section in the local government law," he claimed. "How is the minister going to make amendment to it?" After a short discussion on it, Khuhro deferred it till today and announced that the government will also comply with the apex court order and move another bill to hold the mayor's election through secret ballot.
Taking part in the ongoing discussion on the budget of the third quarter, opposition lawmakers criticised the government for failing to spend development funds allocated for different schemes in the province. "The fate of around 263 new development schemes hangs in the balance as not a single penny has been released by the government for the same," claimed MQM MPA Heer Ismail Sohu in her speech.
While PPP MPA Rehana Leghari appreciated the Sindh government's efforts in controlling the law and order and initiating development schemes, she asked why the government has failed to deliver in the newly created Sujawal district. "In the last three years, the government has only released Rs90 million for Sujawal," she lamented.
Another PPP lawmaker, MPA Khairunisa Mughal, who belongs to the Mirpurkhas district, also drew the government's attention to pending water and sanitation schemes and poor condition of infrastructure in the district.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2016.