The looming threat of a showdown in Hyderabad between the nationalist and ruling party activists has tapered off – somewhat.
While the Pakistan Peoples Party rallies in support of the new local government law tomorrow (Monday), its opponents will only observe a black day.
“The people of Sindh will greet the caravans and ministers on the roads with black flags,” said Dr Qadir Magsi, the chairperson of the Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party, which is at the forefront of the nationalist movement against the Sindh Peoples Local Government Ordinance, 2012. “The Save Sindh Committee wants to pursue a peaceful political struggle against the new law,” he told reporters at his hunger-strike camp in Qasimabad on Saturday.
With his statement, the anticipation that the nationalists and opposition parties in Sindh may call for a strike or block the highways has waned.
“The day is not far when we will bury the [President Asif Ali] Zardari-led league in the land of Sindh which they want to divide,” said Magsi while disparaging the PPP’s public gathering.
A large part of the crowd attending the PPP meeting will be of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) activists, claimed Sindh United Party’s vice president Shah Muhammad Shah. “The PPP has arranged 10,000 Sindhi caps and ajraks to be distributed among the MQM workers,” he alleged.
The nationalist leaders announced launching a stronger resistance movement against the local government system after Eid.
As the ruling party prepares for its “massive” public meeting, Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah has ruled out any possibility of repealing the new ordinance.
While addressing a press conference on Saturday, the chief minister said his party was ready to make amendments to the new law provided its detractors pointed out technical flaws or provisions to corroborate their allegations.
The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation has been given the same functions, responsibilities and authority that have been given to the Larkana, Sukkur, Khairpur, Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad corporations, he added. “There is not an iota of discrimination among the six metropolitans,” he claimed. Comparing the new system with the 2001 local bodies system, Shah said while the latter had made the nazims independent, under the 2012 system, the mayor will be answerable to the chief minister.
“The chief minister can even suspend a mayor on charges of corruption and misconduct and if the charges are established the mayor can be fired from his position,” he said.
Shah quoted the newly inserted Article 140-A in the country’s constitution to explain the necessity of devolving the authority and functions to the local governments. “[Sindh] has followed the constitution and the other provinces will also [have to] do the same.” When asked about the participation of MQM at the October 15 rally, the chief minister said “they have not been invited. Indeed, we don’t want them to come.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2012.