PPP-MQM: The deal has been done

Local government system 2001 to be restored in Karachi, Hyderabad in first phase; ordinance expected in 48 hours.

Gm Jamali August 05, 2011


Following days of mutual recrimination, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its estranged coalition partner, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), have finally agreed to a formula which will pave the way for the latter’s eventual return to the government.

According to the formula, in the first phase, the PPP has conceded to the MQM’s demand for the restoration of the local government system – but only in Karachi and Hyderabad. However, in the remaining 21 districts of Sindh, the commissionerate system will remain in place, highly-placed sources told Daily Express.

(Read: Let’s do it commissionery style)

Following days of political friction and bloodletting in Karachi, there has been a gradual softening of stances in both the PPP and MQM.

On Friday, leaders of both parties met at an Iftar hosted by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah in Karachi in what was meant to be an ice-breaking congregation. However, what most of those fraternising at the Karachi iftar did not know was that meetings of real consequence were already being held elsewhere – particularly in Islamabad.

Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad of the MQM held a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, followed by an Iftar dinner at the Presidency on Friday.

Sources said that PPP’s senior leaders in Sindh are not aware of the new agreement as President Asif Ali Zardari is handling the situation.

“The law and order situation in Karachi was discussed during the meeting. The president later hosted a dinner for the governor,” said a two-line statement issued by the Presidency.

When contacted, Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar refused to divulge details of the meeting. However, sources disclosed that the meeting was a follow up of a decision taken at the Presidency two days earlier, where the allied parties in the Sindh government had authorised Zardari to intervene and take all necessary steps to bring normalcy in the violence-hit financial hub of the country and to bring the MQM back into the government’s fold.

According to sources, the government’s legal wizards have started drafting an ordinance whereby municipal corporations and district municipal corporations will be abolished in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Sources added that the MQM is likely to rejoin the provincial and federal cabinets following the restoration of the local bodies system in the two major urban centres of the province.

In the second phase, sources said, the commissionerate system would either be abolished or amended to make the office of commissioner subservient to the city mayor (nazim).

Following a consensus among top PPP leaders, the draft agreement has been sent to the MQM for final approval. If the MQM accepts to the draft, sources said, the government is likely to issue the ordinance within the next 48 hours.

The MQM is insisting that three ordinances should be promulgated simultaneously to do away with the Local Government Ordinance 1979, Police Act 1861 and the commissioner system.

However, sources said that the party has apparently relented in backchannel talks with the PPP which says the three ordinances should be abolished in phases.

Sources said that the government is also giving serious thought to the MQM demand for holding local bodies’ elections in Sindh or to appoint political administrators instead of bureaucrats. But the sources clarified that no decision has been taken yet. The two parties have also agreed that their leaders would not make provocative statements against each other’s parties. And in future, differences would be resolved in closed-door meetings.

‘Eid together’

Meanwhile, over at the Iftar in Karachi, Sindh Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani said that MQM would rejoin the government before the end of Ramazan and the two parties would celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr together.

Talking to media men on the occasion, he said there had been negotiations between MQM and PPP on various issues and the president had directed them to take MQM on board. “The commissionerate and local government system has been the bone of contention between MQM and PPP. We cannot reverse the decision, but we can bring amendments to it,” he said, adding that leaders of MQM were expressing concern over the commissionerate system, but they had failed to propose their desired amendments.

Durrani added that the government had not yet decided over the issue of MQM ministers’ resignations. “We are still waiting for MQM to rejoin the cabinet, I hope the ministers will resume their jobs before Eid,” he said.

Referring to the Sindh cabinet meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad, he said: “All our powers have been given to the president to decide the fate of the coalition.”

MQM leader Raza Haroon said that MQM could rejoin government in the best interest of the country. “We should not waste our time discussing the old local government system of 1979, but there is a dire need to bring the internationally acclaimed modern local government system of 2001,” he said.

Haroon added: “We do not have personal gain in politics, we are advocating for the rights of people and we will continue to do so whether we are in the government or the opposition,” Haroon added. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM CORRESPONDENTS IN KARACHI AND ISLAMABAD)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2011.


Ehsan Ali | 12 years ago | Reply

When the commissionerate system was imposed, MQM criticised the PPP’s decision and demanded to reverse without realising that for a long lasting peace and tranquality of city commissionerate system is the only panacea. It is being observed that for strengthening democracy MQM goes one step forward and two steps back. It is like a minuet where MQM keeps going round and round in circles instead of moving forward. The people of Pakistan and Karachi need a break from all such political perambulations. MQM is lucky that there is a civilian government and working on the policy of reconciliation and extended its support to all the smaller political parties to grow within a democratic culture. The MQM Government needs to take stock of its blunders and start taking rational and well thought through decisions. Democracy may well be nascent in Pakistan but that does not mean that our politicians are permitted to make fools of themselves. We already have enough problems on our hands as it is without dealing with political naïveté.

Dr. Saleem Siddiqi | 12 years ago | Reply

Every task has challenge and opportunity buts needs sacrifices to achieve such goal. PPP ignited Karachities by approving Commssionarete System in a just few hours. This issue was disputed and naturally angered Karachi people that instead of authorizing and delegating powers to people, PPP had reveresed the wheel and handed over authority to Naukar Shahi to their dismay.

On the other hand, PPP was directly indulged in putting fuel on fire and was responsible to ignite Target killing whose ugly plan was made and implemented in the President House by Zardari ----> http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/jul2011-daily/12-07-2011/col3.htm. Sin and the blame for all those killed in this process in Karachi shall be on the head of Zardari and PPP.

After great struggle, MQM succeeded in getting this anti-Karachities decision reversed. Congratulations to MQM for this Political achievement which will be seen for a long peace initiative in Karachi. Karachi will inshAllah see more development as we had seen in the past coutesy MQM leadership.

Good work MQM - keep it up for the betterment of Karachi and Hyderabad. Let there be peace and let the wheel of industry be moving back to normal. Let there be normal business.

One more Challenge for MQM to redress Electric Power load shedding in Karachi. They must put their pressure on Federal Government for improvement of power supply to Karachi.


Dr. Saleem Siddiqi Johannesburg - South Africa

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