Despite claims by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) that they have evolved consensus over the draft for a new local government system in Sindh, serious differences between the two coalition partners remain.
Consensual legislation on the local government system seems well-nigh impossible in the near future after Sindh Minister for Local Government Agha Siraj Durrani hinted at a serious “deadlock” over the matter between the two parties. “Legislation on the issue is not an easy task,” said the minister.
Talking to the media after hosting an Iftar dinner party, the minister said that MQM has been demanding that certain provincial departments be put under their control as part of the district government in Karachi — demands which were not reasonable, according to Durrani.
Without quoting the names of the specific departments, he said: “Those departments are being demanded by the MQM which have never been part of the district government. How can one devolve them to the district government now?” he questioned rhetorically.
However, the minister claimed to have evolved 80% consensus between the two parties on the new system’s draft but revealed that serious differences persist on some 20 per cent of the draft.
“The core committee cannot resolve the issue but it will submit its recommendations to the leadership of both parties who can decide the matter,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources in the party said that the MQM has been demanding that the revenue department be placed under the control of the district government. They added that the stress was to empower the mayor of the city — who should have complete authority over the police and traffic system of Karachi.
Not only PPP, but MQM leaders have also been announcing for the last two months that they have evolved significant consensus on major issues and that they would move the Sindh Assembly to pass new legislation soon after Eid. But sources within the ruling party said that it was not possible for PPP to compromise by handing over the revenue and police department to the district government.
Similarly, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah told reporters that it was not easy to pass legislation on the local government system because they needed more time to work on it.
Sources privy to the development revealed that MQM, despite being a coalition partner of the government, has started negotiations with other political forces in Sindh for the upcoming elections.
However, MQM Deputy Convener Farooq Sattar said that they have not yet decided the future course of action regarding the upcoming election alliance and consensus on the local government system is yet to be evolved.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2012.
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