Officials from the Sindh police demanded that they should be paid on par with their colleagues in Punjab, a demand that President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to in principle, in addition to demands for better housing facilities.
At a meeting held in Bilawal House, the president’s personal residence in Karachi, President Zardari met with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Home Minister Manzoor Wassan, Sindh Police Inspector-General Wajid Durrani and the head of Karachi police Saud Mirza among other officials to discuss law and order in the province.
The conversation quickly turned to building up institutional capacity of Sindh Police to deal with criminal elements. Sources familiar with the discussion say that the Sindh Police demanded that their compensation levels, currently lower, be brought in line with those of their colleagues in Punjab.
In addition, they asked for permission to recruit as many as 10,000 additional personnel in Sindh Police and build 30,000 apartments for police officials to solve the department’s chronic housing shortage. Sources say that President Zardari agreed in principle to both demands.
Separately, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik met with the Sindh chief minister at his residence to discuss security arrangements for the upcoming elections for the seats representing the Kashmiri diaspora in Karachi in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly.
Energy crisis meeting
At a separate meeting at Bilawal House, the president met Sindh Power Minister Shazia Marri to discuss the energy crisis in the province.
Marri reportedly told the president that the management of the Karachi Electric Supply Company has refused to cooperate on the matter of its sacked employees, who have gone on strike and begun disrupting the ability of the utility to serve its customers. The president is reported to have expressed concern.
“This is a political problem now that needs to be solved politically,” the president is quoted by sources as having said.
In addition, Marri briefed the president on gas production in Sindh, specifically highlighting a number of dormant wells in the province. President Zardari promised federal assistance for reviving those gas wells.
Marri referred specifically to four wells in Sindh – two in Thatta and one each in Ghotki and Sanghar – that were discovered up to 15 years ago and have yet to be utilised.
After the 18th amendment to the constitution, the federal government and the provinces are entitled to a 50-50 split in profits from natural resources.
The Council on Common Interests (CCI) had initially decided to hand over those wells to Sindh to develop but then had referred the matter to a sub-committee after encountering strong opposition from the management of the state-owned Oil and Gas Development Corporation, the largest oil and gas exploration company in the country.
Marri demanded that the original decision be upheld, to which the president agreed to offer his support.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2011.
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