Commissionerate system in place: Political temperatures rise sharply in Sindh

Published: July 11, 2011
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Mirza admits to meeting Haqiqi leader; Commissionerate system arouses dissent; confusion in the police force. PHOTO: EXPRESS/RASHID AJMERI

Mirza admits to meeting Haqiqi leader; Commissionerate system arouses dissent; confusion in the police force. PHOTO: EXPRESS/RASHID AJMERI

KARACHI: 

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) appear to be moving towards the political equivalent of a head-on collision, with the MQM accusing the PPP of colluding with its opponents and using strong-arm tactics.

The PPP for its part is seeking to shore up support for the pre-2001 local government system, but seems to be alienating members of its own party in the process.

The tensions come on the day that the Sindh government formally implemented the revival of the pre-2001 system.

In a late-night press conference, MQM leader Anis Qaimkhani accused the government of conspiring against the MQM by seeking an alliance with the breakaway Muhajir Qaumi Movement (known as MQM-Haqiqi). Qaimkhani blamed a joint conspiracy between the PPP and Haqiqi for the phones lines at MQM’s headquarters in Karachi being disconnected.

After an initial denial by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik seemed to imply that the government had been involved in disconnecting those phone lines by ordering them  reconnected within an hour.

The MQM leader was referring to a meeting between Sindh Senior Minister Zulfiqar Mirza and the leader of Haqiqi, Afaq Ahmed. Mirza admitted to the meeting and said “If meeting Afaq Ahmad is a crime, then I will keep committing it.”

Qaimkhani, meanwhile, delivered a fiery speech at a hastily put-together press conference past 1 am on Monday morning, speaking angrily against the ruling PPP and President Asif Ali Zardari. His speech implied that there may be further violence in the city if the government continued policies that he felt were against the MQM.

“Don’t push us against the wall,” he said. “This is not 1992 or 1995.” The two years were a reference to particularly violent years in Karachi’s history when a clash between the MQM and the government, then backed by the military, led to thousands of deaths.

At an earlier press conference, MQM Deputy Convenor Farooq Sattar said that the party would begin a mass protest campaign to build support for an elected local government system.

Article 140A of the constitution mandates that provinces devolve some of their powers to “elected representatives of the local governments.”

PPP’s coalition-building

The PPP leadership in Sindh, meanwhile, met with several opposition parties for a dinner at the house of Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon in what appeared to be the beginnings of a very public coalition-building effort. The guest list at the dinner included leaders from the Awami National Party, the Pakistan Muslim League Functional and even the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The public nature of the dinner, and the invitations to journalists, suggested that the PPP may still be interested in a compromise with the MQM. The Sindh chief minister implied as much in his remarks at the occasion.

“If we wanted to get rid of the MQM, we need only accept their resignations,” he said, referring to the fact that the government has not yet accepted the resignations of the MQM members of the provincial cabinet.

Shah invited the MQM to debate the local government and police system – which was a revival of the 1979 local government system and the 1861 Police Act – in the Sindh Assembly.

Resistance from within PPP

Yet even as the PPP leadership seemed to be garnering support with other parties for what has now become known as the ‘commissionerate’ system, several legislators within the PPP caucus in the Sindh Assembly seem not to second the plan, particularly since it involves redrawing district borders.

Sindh Food Minister Nadir Magsi met with the chief minister on Sunday to express his concerns over the plan which would reunify Kamber Shahdadkot district into Larkana, which he feared may require his constituents to have to re-register their property and apply for new national identification cards.

Another PPP member of the Sindh Assembly, who wished to remain anonymous, said that he would also voice his opposition to the formation of two new districts of Hyderabad and Larkana divisions at the party meeting on Monday (today).

Confusion in the police force

Meanwhile, even as the government pressed ahead with the restoration of the 1861 Police Act, there is massive confusion within the Sindh Police as to how the changes will actually be implemented.

While many of the changes are cosmetic (such as a change in titles for most senior officers), several other require a complete reorganisation of the police force for which there appears to be no real plan.

The Karachi Police in particular seem very confused. Instead of being one unified city district police force, Karachi’s law enforcement will now be divided into the five districts that constitute Karachi division.

Yet the most consequential change will likely be the re-merger of the operations and investigations branches of the police. Officials themselves seem divided on the issue.

Members of the operations division say that citizens will now have to deal with only one person at a police station, making it convenient for them and offering fewer opportunities to the police force to extort bribes.

However, some members of the investigation wing said that the police force had just begun to acquire specialised knowledge in investigation which may now be lost as the two departments are merged again.

In addition, one official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that citizens would now be at the whims of just one police officer, the Station House Officer, who could single-handedly decide the fate of their complaint for or against them, without any recourse to alternative means of justice. The investigation wing, he said, served as a check on the operations wing, and vice versa.

(With additional reporting by Hafeez Tunio and Faraz Khan)

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • SK
    Jul 11, 2011 - 9:54AM

    mess all around- just due to personal & vested interests

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  • SH
    Jul 11, 2011 - 11:14AM

    Total retrogressive rubbish. No foresight or ability for rational thought. Governments should not be allowed to make such swooping, far-reaching decisions at whims, without the prior discussion of such proposals in the assemblies. There was not need for ordinances being passed the way they were, and that too by an acting governor. If that’s not dictatorial mentality, what is??
    And by the way, just because Musharraf was a dictator doesn’t mean every thing he did was wrong and needs to be undone. If only those in power had the ability to comprehend what was and what wasn’t in the interest of Karachi, Sindh and Pakistan. I for one, miss being able to go to my local Nazim’s office and complain when something was wrong in the locality. I think the progress we saw when the CDGK was in place with elected representatives was amazing and the previously tried bureaucratic “commissionerate system” totally fails in comparison.

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  • Patriot
    Jul 11, 2011 - 11:24AM

    What are they trying to achieve. The government has absolutely no clue as to what management and planning are!!!!! Lets see how they win next year, but then for them it is the masses in their districts to whom their pitch will be “We divided the districts for bringing relief to you” and they will happily vote for them. People have short term memories and they forget that they didn’t have water, electricity or security during their 5 years in the government!

    Its high time someone who does not belong to a feudal background should be voted in!!

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  • Ali
    Jul 11, 2011 - 12:10PM

    MQM is now very angry that PPP has met with MQM-Haqiqi but MQM-A should not forget that they destroyed haqiqi in musharaff regime with the help of govt. And the leaders of haqiqi were in jail for more than 10 years while rascals of MQM were moving freely and only those leaders of haqiq were freed few days ago who informed MQM to join them after release. It was simply MQM injustice to capture karachi and put haqiqi out of scene.

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  • Ray of Hope
    Jul 11, 2011 - 1:38PM

    Again, See the politicians of Pakistan, is there anyone who use Suzuki or any other small car for moving, this affluent class can never do anything for the poor, leave aside the political tension in Sindh, these are only the games to save their seats in the assemblies, nothing else.

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  • Papu Jan
    Jul 11, 2011 - 3:02PM

    What goes around comes around…

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  • Ray of Hope
    Jul 11, 2011 - 3:58PM

    Land Cruisers, Pajeros, Range Rovers. These are our politicians who always try to take over the other in getting the most lavish and luxurious cars, how they buy and maintain? They eat up money from the department budgets of which they are the ministers, think. Allah Bless Pakistan and save this country from the clutches of Corrupt Mafia, Ameen.

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  • Azam Qureshi
    Jul 11, 2011 - 4:42PM

    This is the musical chair our politicians play. For once MQM must understand that sitting in opposition is not a sin. After the election 2008 if they sit in opposition they would have achaived more than what the get today.

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  • HK
    Jul 11, 2011 - 5:25PM

    if anything we in Karachi seem to be heading for a more chaotic situation than ever, with all these politicians fighting for their personal interests leaving the citizens to suffer.Recommend

  • Irshad Khan
    Jul 11, 2011 - 6:03PM

    The sytems, made by British in India were suitable to establish their rule as conquerers and userpers. These systems they never adopted in their own country. They ruled india, a very big country, through Nawabs, Rajas, Commissioners, Deputy commissioners, Jagirdars, Sardars, Peers and mischief mongers. Why are we interested in their systems of ruling, are we still slaves to some-ones? To take revenge and to let down others is not democracy.

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  • Muhammad Masoom
    Jul 12, 2011 - 1:52AM

    the world is moving ahead and we go severak steps back after taking one step.Repealing of police order 2002 is one such example. Just for the political purposes a good law has been repealed. In every police force of the world there are number of specialized wings we had created one that is investigation wing but before it could grow up it has been killed. Nowhere in world law and order is in in hands of generalists. However in our case it is once again being transferred to the generalists that is city managers.

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  • Sufi
    Jul 12, 2011 - 1:56AM

    Good job. Now restore all districts back to original system that was changed by Busharraf (slave of mqatilm) as racist plan to get Sindhi votes out of cities. Jeay Zulfiqar Mirza!

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  • mehran
    Jul 15, 2011 - 3:31PM

    hi
    dear all
    Restoration of all districts of karachi was a burning demand of the local people of sindh , who are the masters of land. almighty allah bestowed the land to the people of sindh and who the dictator mushraf a racist and to snatch the git of God from the people of the land of Sufis. people of sindh are peace loving people . we are the pioneer of the world civilization ,therefore every one should appreciate the people old civilization. we respect entire humanity and in return we deserve for respect.

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  • Karachi Beaver
    Jul 15, 2011 - 5:33PM

    Commissioner System is better than the so called Devolution Plan of 2001 which empowered the rich landlords and mafia dons as they were given the whole of the district administration under their control. Kudos! To Sindh Government for restoring commissioners and i hope the government will also conduct local bodies elections according to LGS 1979 for the selection of City Mayors

    Also, it is a good move to rein in the corruption of police, But still i would like to say that this system couldn’t work unless honest, experienced and dedicated CSP/DMG officers are not appointed as DCs and Commissioners. At present, junior PCS officers are serving as commissioners, Sindh government should remove them ar once to appoint seniour CSPs.

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