KARACHI: The Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and other parties have thrown down the gauntlet to Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah challenging him to a public debate on the new local government ordinance, saying that they would prove “how it is aimed at dividing Sindh”.
The law was promulgated by the governor on September 7 as the Sindh Assembly was not in session. This means it was not debated and voted on by MPAs. In reaction, nine elected representatives from allied parties resigned and the coalition faltered. The coalition was formed by the Pakistan Peoples Party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and its partners.
At a joint press conference at his residence, PML-F’s Imtiaz Shaikh along with PML-Q leader Shaharyar Mahar said: “Only a few Pakistan Peoples Party leaders, including the CM, Agha Siraj Durrani and Sharjeel Inam Memon, are arguing in favour of the Sindh Peoples Local Government Ordinance 2012 while a majority of the Sindh Assembly opposes it.”
In response to the challenge, the CM’s special assistant, Waqar Mehdi, told The Express Tribune that the Sindh Assembly is the actual forum to hold a public debate. “We accept the demand of the PML-F and its allies and invite others opposing the LG ordinance to initiate a debate in the assembly, which is the representative forum of the people of Sindh,” he said.
Mehdi, who is also the information secretary for the PPP Sindh, dispelled the impression that only a few PPP leaders and ministers are backing the ordinance. “The PPP Sindh council meeting held on Sunday unanimously passed a resolution in favour of this ordinance. This is totally propaganda. There is no disparity within the rank and file of the PPP,” he said.
Even amendments to SLGO 2012 were welcome if anyone made a good suggestion, he said.
Commenting on their resignations, Imtiaz Shaikh said they had not only submitted them to the CM but would also apply to form the opposition in two to three days. He expressed surprise that the CM had said they had no officially resigned when they had the paperwork or receipts to prove it.
He questioned how the chief minister call it an “ideal local government system”. “I challenge him and will prove how mayors have been given more powers than district nazims in 2001,” he said, adding that the metropolitan corporations have been formed in five districts, giving them more funds and a separate system than the rest of the province. “I want to ask what this is. Why have two different systems been introduced?”
The PML-F and parties that agree with it on the new law have supported the second wheel-jam strike called by the “Save Sindh Committee”.
PML-Q’s Shaharyar Mahar, who resigned as minister for alternative energy, said that they had communicated to their leadership, Chaudhry Shujaat, that the people of Sindh had rejected the new local government system. “I am not alone in expressing my concern for the LG system - the PML-Q leadership is also worried about other decisions being made by the PPP and its leadership. I have parted ways with the government and our party will give its reaction within a month.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2012.
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