PPP eyes solutions to LG election delays

Gm Jamali May 14, 2010

KARACHI: The government is considering appointing district administrators given that the local government elections are being delayed because of differences between the ruling coalition partners.

]Some Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) members have even approached the chief minister with this suggestion. The president is, however, due in the city on Saturday and it is expected that he will be sitting down with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and perhaps other allied parties, to sort out differences. Reliable sources in the PPP have told Daily Express that about a month ago their members of the core committee gave the MQM some documents on the possible new legislation.

The MQM has been pressing for elements of the 2001 laws while the PPP has been insisting on the 1979 local government legislation. For its part, MQM members have been stalling, saying that due to Farooq Sattar’s commitments, they have not been able to get back on the matter. Furthermore, two amendment ordinances from Governor House are said to have been issued on the insistence of the MQM. This state of affairs has upset the PPP, sources said, adding that the situation has been made worse by the creation of an impression that the ruling party was behind these delays.

According to PPP members, the matter was discussed at the core committee meeting that the municipal commissioner should be appointed according to the old system as it would help solve some problems. The issue of reverting the status of Hyderabad was also discussed with some participants, calling for the creation of two union councils. About Karachi, the PPP sources said that the old districts should be brought back and that control of the city would stay with a mayor.

However, within one week, the MQM, instead of making suggestions, sat on them. When the prime minister came on a visit to Karachi recently, the PPP in Hyderabad went to him and complained that their district had been shortchanged in the past and that its old status should be restored. For his part, the PM said that after the coalition partners reconcile, Hyderabad’s status would be restored. However, this statement was used to pressure the PPP so that they could backtrack on previously agreed to points at the core committee meetings, sources said.

A minister who is part of the core committee told Daily Express that the MQM members in Karachi and Hyderabad had agreed to some points during the session but the delays had put them on the backfoot. He said that if the PPP did not fight to restore the old status of Karachi and Hyderabad, its votebank would be demolished.

The PPP’s divisional members have told central and provincial leaders that the president is aware of all that is going on. Sources said that he does not want any disagreements with the coalition partners on the LG system. He wants them to first agree to the local government laws and until that happens they will not discuss any appointment of administrators. Appointing bureaucrats would just create more problems.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 15th, 2010.