KARACHI: Despite the opposition's protest, the Government of Sindh passed a law on Wednesday to tighten its control over local bodies' councils through regional directorates, asssuring that all matters are being undertaken in true spirit of the law.
The law has also empowered the provincial government to appoint inspecting officers to inspect the local bodies' councils once a year. Moving the third amendment to 'Sindh Local Government Bill 2016,' the parliamentary affairs and education minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that the municipal corporations, municipal committees and town committees will also setup parks and public gardens on their own or through public-private partnership for recreation and convenience of public.
All the opposition members belonging to Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) jointly protested the law and called it contempt of court. They demanded the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice.
"They are adopting different tactics to delay the election of mayors and chairperson in the province, which is why the controversial amendments are being incorporated in the law," said PML-F MPA Shaheryar Mahar. He added that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ministers are aware that with this amendment, the opposition will again approach the court and government will be relieved for not holding election of mayor.
However, the PPP ministers were of the opinion that the law was being made to ensure transparency in the system. "This provision was available in 1962 and 1979 local government [LG] act to make elected representatives accountable, but the provision was deleted in 2001 LG act [and] we want to revive it [again]," said LG minister Jam Khan Shoro in his speech. The minister asked what is wrong if the government wants to monitor the activities of mayors, chairpersons and other elected representatives in 29 districts.
"The treasury benches informed us they are going to make law in light of Supreme Court orders, but [they are] now deviating from the apex court's judgment," said opposition leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan. He added that they will not allow the government to impose its decisions by violating rules and law.
Drawing the speaker's attention towards the title of the bill, MQM parliamentary leader Syed Sardar Ahmed said this is not the third amendment as it has been proposed. "It will be fourth amendment in LG law because this House has earlier passed third amendment. So technically, this bill is against the rules," he added.
However, Khuhro claimed they were not violating the court orders and instead they want to strengthen the system. Paying no heed to the objections of opposition regarding the bill, Khuhro asked the speaker to put the bill for voting.
As the speaker started reading different clauses of the bill, the opposition members tore the bill and agenda copies in protest, after which the speaker adjourned the session for 10 minutes. However, when the speaker failed to maintain order in the House after resuming the session, he postponed the session till Friday.
After the session, MQM leaders accused PPP government for not devolving powers at grass-roots level and rather creating problem by introducing new amendments. "We appeal to chief justice of Pakistan to take notice of this matter," said Ahmed and Hasan talking to the media.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2016.