Rallying in the National Assembly around an ardent call against the division of Sindh for creation of new provinces, lawmakers from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) faced blistering criticism on Tuesday by some of their own, for ‘mishandling’ the Karachi situation.
“Sindh will never be divided. It will stay like it is. The PPP will stand for its unity,” said MNA Gul Muhammad Jakhrani, as the entire lot of his party cheered both during and after his outburst. “Dividing Sindh means dividing Pakistan and we will not let that happen,” said Gul.
Both the ‘mood and action’ was an apparent indication of how seriously the PPP will resist an effort of carving out a new province out of its political stronghold despite the fact that it wants to divide Punjab into two federating units.
Gul’s call was also supported by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Ayaz Amir who said the logic of division on ethnic or linguistic basis did not apply to Sindh because ‘there was no such demand there’.
The day also witnessed some of the PPP’s own members finding faults with some recent overtures by the federal and Sindh governments to restore peace in Karachi after July, the deadliest month in three years.
It was MNA Nabeel Gabol from Lyari who advised his party leadership to ‘forget about the policy of reconciliation’ to bring ‘real’ peace to the city. “There is no need for a policy of reconciliation anymore … an across the board action is required in Karachi,” said Gabol, who has been at odds with his party’s top leadership for some time now.
Gabol claimed that being the elected representative from Karachi’s most troubled areas, he knew who was behind the death and destruction in the city and said the government could have controlled the situation in three days, had it wanted to do so.
“I am the MNA from Lyari. Some people might have forgotten it but I am here,” said Gabol, in an apparent remark to express anger over President Zardari’s announcement that Bilawal will contest elections from Lyari.
He then advised the political parties not to rely on guns to seek control of Karachi and trust the strength of their voters and supporters.
Another PPP member from Balochistan, Syed Nasir Ali Shah, accused the government of turning a blind eye to the killings in Balochistan and sought immediate action. Shah went on to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Gilani because his son was allegedly involved in last year’s Hajj scam and for his failure to control violence in Balochistan.
(Read: Analysis: Fiddling while Balochistan, Karachi sizzle)
Then PPP’s MNA from the tribal areas Akhundzada Chattan called upon the government to fulfill one of its years-old promises to scrap the colonial Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) law to govern the country’s tribal areas till August 14 this year. “Otherwise we, the tribesmen, will observe the next independence day as a black day,” warned Chattan.
The Awami National Party (ANP) staged a walkout to protest what one of its leaders called a ‘midnight factory grinding’ ordinance for Sindh and Karachi.
MNA Bushra Gohar was referring to a recent decision by the PPP government to restore the local bodies’ system first for Karachi and Hyderabad and then for the whole of Sindh.
The PML-N, MQM and JUI-F staged another walkout against the recent increase in gas prices and power cuts.
The government, however, maintained total silence about an overnight public statement by top military commanders, expressing concern over violence in Karachi despite the fact that an opposition member raised the issue. “The government’s incapability gives the generals a chance to speak about what is not their domain,” said PML-N’s Ayaz Amir.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2011.