KARACHI: At an emergency press conference on Friday, Muttahida Qaumi Movement - Pakistan (MQM-P) leadership said that conspiracies were at play to divide Pakistan administratively. They claimed that the public would find it unacceptable if efforts were made to make more districts in Karachi. Meanwhile, Adviser to Chief Minister on Information, Law and Anti-corruption Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who is also the spokesperson for the Sindh government, slammed MQM-P leadership for what he called 'their unnecessary apprehensions with regard to dividing Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) into two parts'. He said that there was no such proposal under consideration at any level and these insinuations were frivolous and uncalled for.
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Addressing the press conference at MQM-P's temporary head office in Bahadrabad, MQM-P Convenor Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that Sindh government had already divided Sindh along linguistic lines through an artificial majority. If the provinces have the authority of making districts then the federal government should also have the authority to make provinces, he said.
According to Siddiqui, the 18th Amendment has not been complied with in its essence. The current municipal system is contradictory to Article 140A of the Constitution of Pakistan, he claimed. [As per Article 140A, each province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.] Prime Minister Imran Khan should pay attention to the injustices done with Sindh, said Siddiqui adding that the citizens of Sindh will come on the roads if attention is not paid. The MQM-P leader claimed that the Sindh Secretariat had become a no-go area for the youth of Sindh.
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The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has not acquired any mandate in the urban areas of Sindh in the past fifty years therefore PPP has no right to make decisions regarding Sindh's urban areas, he said. If there were two mayors in Karachi then there could also be two chief ministers of Sindh, he asserted. Siddiqui said that the Sindh chief minister was representing a single linguistic unit of Sindh and the biased Sindh government had left Sindh's urban areas helpless. He added that MQM-P had gone to the courts for justice but those petitions are still pending. MQM-P appeals to the Chief Justice of Pakistan that immediate action be taken on the petitions filed by the party, he said. MQM-P demands that provinces be divided on administrative basis not on linguistic basis, asserted Siddiqui.
Listing further grievances with the ruling party in Sindh, Siddiqui said that MQM-P's offices were being attacked openly and several members of the party had been martyred or injured. No efforts have been made by the government of Sindh with regards to security, he added. The perpetrators behind former MPA Ali Raza Abidi's murder have not been arrested as yet, he lamented. “We are grateful to the law enforcement agencies, especially the Sindh Rangers, for arresting those involved in the attacks on MQM-P offices, but it is necessary that those elements are awarded the punishment they deserve,” he said. The Greenline project is facing delay due to the incompetence of the Sindh government, he added.
MQM-P Deputy Convener Kunwar Naveed Jamil said that MQM-P stood with labourers and farmers but the citizens of Karachi have also been neglected in the distribution of 350,000 employments. “PPP is causing damage to Pakistan by creating an environment of linguistic biases as its every step involved bias and bigotry,” he claimed.
Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar concluded the press conference by stating that the PPP government had already divided Karachi in several parts and was now making further laws of its own will. PPP should stop playing with the people of Sindh, he said.
Speaking to the media outside Sindh Assembly on Friday, Barrister Murtaza Wahab categorically denied the claims made by MQM-P with regards to further divisions in Karachi.
He said that the PPP never believed in discrimination on the basis of language or any other consideration. MQM-P would do better to check facts and contradictions made by the provincial government in this regard, said Wahab.
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“We have to fight collectively for the cause of Sindh and present the case for the National Finance Commission Award, water, gas and electricity before the federal government,” he said. He added that the people of West district had sent a proposal to the Sindh government for realignment of the district, which was under consideration but no decision had been taken on the matter yet. Wahab contradicted the notion that KMC was being bifurcated and said that MQM-P should desist from spreading such rumours.
The spokesperson for the provincial government said that politics of division was not in Sindh's interests or the mandate of the people of Sindh. We all have to be united to safeguard the rights of the people of Sindh, he asserted.
Commenting on the decision of the banking court, Wahab said that they [PPP] were not surprised by the decision as they were mentally prepared. He said that PPP would repeatedly place its principled stance before the people of Pakistan. Wahab said that a frivolous story of fake accounts had been created against the PPP and when all the accounts were in Karachi then why was the investigation being shifted to Islamabad. Regarding standing committees of Sindh Assembly, he said that the decision had been made to hold polls for standing committees and the schedule of polls would be announced Friday evening. The adviser added that the offer to opposition on standing committees was still valid. He invited opposition parties to sit together and create a better working environment in the Sindh Assembly so that problems of the people of Sindh could be resolved.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2019.