The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) are learnt to have once again revived negotiations for broad-based cooperation between the two parties.
After a recent telephonic interaction between President Asif Ali Zardari and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, PPP’s legal spin-doctor Babar Awan was assigned the task of removing legal lacunaes on local government system, which had been a bone of contention between the two coalition partners.
Awan who had also talked with Hussain on the directions of President Zardari, had a meeting with Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad the other day, sources said.
MQM spokesperson Wasay Jalil confirmed the meeting, but did not disclose its details. However, the PPP sources said, the two parties were trying to bridge differences on a proposed local government system that could be an amalgam of Musharraf’s 2001 district government system and the magistracy system.
Days after the MQM quit the Sindh government in June this year, PPP managed to pass a bill reviving the magistracy system. In the wake of a backlash by the MQM over annulling the nazim system, PPP took back its decision and reintroduced the nazim system through an ordinance.
This move created resentment within the PPP itself: the party’s Sindh chapter castigated the party leadership over this decision. The ordinance is still valid, but it can last for only 120 days unless ratified by the provincial assembly or revived before it lapses.
Besides other issues, the major dispute between the two parties is placing the police under the city government. The PPP has reservations on this subject. “We want that policing should be a localised. It should be under the city government. We demand this not only for Sindh but the whole of Pakistan…This is the practice in the civilised countries,” Jalil said.
MQM and PPP had constituted committees to hammer out a mutually acceptable local government system. These committees had held few meetings but the process was suspended after their relations were strained many months ago. Now the PPP is directly negotiating with the Sindh governor on all these issues. Once a roadmap is ready, the two parties would go for reviving the meetings of the committees they had constituted for this purpose.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2011.
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