Sindh’s two major coalition partners are nowhere near a truce since the controversial Sindh Peoples Local Government Act (SPLGA) 2012 was pulled back on Thursday.
The motion was presented to the house even though it was not on the agenda and was repealed within 10 minutes in a surprising move that marked the widening gap between the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
Moving the supplementary bill, PPP members along with other opposition lawmakers revived the 1979 system, enraging the MQM MPAs who not only protested in front of the speaker’s podium, but also walked out of the session shouting “hum nahen mantay, zulm ke zabte” [we don’t accept these barbaric rules].
As the MQM members gathered in front of Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Faisal Subzwari asked him, “What are you doing?”
“I have nothing to do with it,” Khuhro replied. “They [legislators] moved a motion and I had no option but to put it in front of the house. You know the majority always rules.”
The MQM legislators shouted that they will not accept this but Khuhro was adamant. “Democracy always wins where majority prevails.”
On October 1, 2012, when the PPP and the MQM had passed the controversial ordinance, the opposition members - Pakistan Muslim League - Functional, Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid, Awami National Party, National Peoples Party, etc - were protesting the move.
However, on Thursday, they were hugging each other and showing victory signs. Even the PPP lawmakers, who had introduced the ordinance initially, hugged opposition members, asking them if they were happy. “We had told you that the PPP will not compromise on Sindh’s issue,” said PPP’s Farheen Mughal.
Amid thumping of desks and cheerful laughter, the PPP members insisted that they have removed what the opposition parties were calling a “black spot on democracy”. The opposition members demanded, however, some credit for their persistent struggle against it.
According to the act, metropolitan corporations would have been set up in Karachi and five other districts including Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, Larkana and Khairpur Mirs. The nationalist groups and opposition parties started, however, a campaign against it, declaring that it will create “dual systems” and will divide Sindh.
Not more than a few weeks ago, PPP lawmakers were heard criticising the Sindhi nationalists for opposing the law without reading it. “We have given a gift to the people of Sindh in the name of SPLGA 2012,” they had claimed. Backtracking on these statements, the ministers Pir Mazharul Haq, Sharjeel Memon, Agha Siraj Durrani and Ayaz Soomro insisted that the law was repealed to calm down people angry with the PPP in Sindh.
Earlier, MQM’s Subzwari gave an emotional speech criticising PPP members for restoring an ordinance introduced by a dictator, General Ziaul Haq. “The feudals do no want to end discrimination between urban and rural areas,” he felt. Explaining the MQM’s support for the ordinance, he said that they wanted to establish metropolitan corporations in other districts to develop their infrastructure and provide civic facilities.
As MQM members threw the copies of the agenda shouting “Jeay Muttahida, Jeay Altaf”, the PPP members responded by shouting “Jeay Bhutto”.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2013.
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