The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) has challenged in the Sindh high court the expansion of Hyderabad Municipal Corporation's jurisdiction to almost the entire district excluding the cantonment board areas. The party's Hyderabad leader and MPA Muhammad Rashid Khilji filed a petition in this regard at the Hyderabad circuit bench of the SHC on Wednesday.
On December 31 , 2021, the Sindh secretary local government had notified the local councils including the municipal corporation and nine town municipal corporations (TMCs) for Hyderabad.
Earlier on November 30, 2021, another notification was issued which brought the whole district except a comparatively smaller area falling under Cantonment Board Hyderabad under the limits of the HMC.
Erstwhile, the localities in the City and Latifabad talukas were covered in the HMC while Qasimabad Municipal Committee, Tandojam Municipal Committee, Husri Town Committee and the District Council also functioned separately.
As per the new exercise, carried out under the Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Act, 2021, Qasimabad and Hyderabad talukas will also be a part of the HMC which will consist of nine TMCs and 160 union committees (UCs).
The delimitation for the next local government elections was carried out in compliance with the November 19, 2021, notification of the election commission of Pakistan for carrying out the delimitation of the UC and wards in each district of Sindh. The work was to be done by the delimitation committees.
"[With] mala fide intentions, ulterior designs, political motivations, and not in good faith a notification dated 30-11-2021 was issued whereby the rural areas falling in the jurisdiction of District Council Hyderabad were declared urban area and merged in HMC," argued Khilji.
"So also the areas falling in the jurisdiction of municipal committees Qasimabad and Tando Jam and town committee Husri were merged in HMC."
He argued the rural areas falling in the limits of the District Council Hyderabad are not identical to the urban areas of the HMC as the former comprise mostly the agricultural land. "The urban areas have high density of population, regimentation, segmentation of personality, heterogeneity, anonymity and mobility."
Interestingly, a meeting of the Hyderabad Development Authority governing body, chaired by the MQM-P Deputy Convener Kunwar Navid Jamil in his capacity of district Nazim on May 3, 2007, had also planned to bring the entire district under the LG system. The deputy commissioner Hyderabad Fuad Ghaffar Soomro in a letter to Commissioner Hyderabad on November 30, 2021, which made the case for the expanded HMC, referred to that HDA's 104th GB meeting.
City and Latifabad talukas have a history of elected MQM-P's representatives while Qasimabad and Hyderabad talukas have always voted for the PPP. The former, on the basis of such electoral results, is considered to have higher population of Urdu speaking people and the latter of Sindhis.
The MPA also questioned the intentions of the Pakistan Peoples Party's Sindh government for delaying conduct of the LG elections as the term of the local councils expired on August 30, 2020. He said according to the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, the provincial government is bound to hold the elections within 120 days after completion of the term. The ECP, he added, on August 31, 2020, September 1, 2020, and June 1, 2021, wrote to the Sindh government to initiate the delimitation for the LG elections but the directives were disregarded.
Khilji decried that the government was supposed to issue a public notice and to advertise the same in the mainstream national media in order to provide opportunity to the people to share their input. However, he blamed the government for employing the bureaucracy in a secretive manner for the task.
He prayed the court to declare the notification illegal, suspend its operation and restrain the ECP from conducting the delimitation of the enlarged HMC. The Sindh government, the provincial secretary local government and ECP are respondents in the case.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2022.
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