KARACHI: In a bid to end a deadlock with a key coalition partner once and for all, President Asif Ali Zardari directed the core committee of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Sunday to ensure local body polls before parliamentary elections.
The president also assured the committee that general elections would be held in 2013 as per schedule, according to sources.
Sources added that President Zardari asked the committee to focus on the legal aspects of local bodies rather than politicising the issue and creating a possible confrontation with the government’s coalition partners.
He directed the provincial leadership to ensure that a bill on local bodies was passed in the Sindh Assembly in time.
Avoiding tensions, however, may be easier said than done. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the PPP continue to diverge on the local bodies’ issue.
The president formed a three-member committee – comprising Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Minister for Local Government Agha Siraj Durrani and Law Minister Muhammad Ayaz Soomro – to resolve the issue which surfaced in talks between the two parties on Saturday.
During the meeting at Bilawal House, the provincial leadership briefed the president on different issues, including matters relating to the coalition partners, local body elections, drought situation in the province and law and order, particularly in Karachi. Federal Law Minister Farook H Naek also attended the meeting.
The president also advised the ministers, provincial legislators and party officials to reach out in particular to people in remote areas of Sindh and enhance contacts with voters in their respective constituencies in preparation for the upcoming general elections.
In this regard, President Zardari also directed the chief minister to complete all development projects on time. He directed the provincial government to release Rs0.5 million to party workers who have been targeted in the city.
According to sources, President Zardari was not happy with PPP MNA Abdul Qadir Patel for his statements against the coalition partners, and directed him and others to avoid creating conflict.
The new committee will hold talks with all coalition partners, including the Awami National Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and the National Party.
In a separate meeting at Bilawal House, President Zardari also urged the ministries of petroleum, finance and water and power to work in unison and make ‘concerted efforts’ to end electricity and gas load shedding in the country.
Minister for Water and Power Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar briefed the meeting on the power situation. He hoped that with rising water levels in the country’s reservoirs as a result of recent monsoon rains, the power shortage would decrease.
The Wapda chairperson briefed the meeting on various hydel power projects, including Laraib project which has a capacity to generate 487MW of electricity by March 2013.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2012.
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