Tit for tat?: PPP revives Zia-era local govt system in Sindh

Party says SPLGO being replaced because opposition was using it as anti-govt propaganda.


Hafeez Tunio February 21, 2013
Despite many attempts the speaker did not permit the opposition to speak on the legislation. PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE

KARACHI:


Breaking away from the ruling coalition came at a price for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.


In unexpected development, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – which holds a majority in the provincial assembly – repealed the Sindh Peoples Local Government Ordinance 2012 (SPLGO) and revived the Zia-era Sindh Local Government Ordinance 1979 (bill 2013) effectively dividing Karachi into five districts.

This was the third time that the much-debated and controversial local government system had been altered by the provincial assembly during incumbent government’s tenure.

Amid unprecedented hue and cry on Thursday, the bill, which was even not on the agenda, was passed within ten minutes in a session chaired by Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro.

MQM leaders – the main beneficiaries and proponents of this law – not only protested against the move, they also chanted slogans and staged a walkout of the Sindh Assembly calling the move yet another conspiracy hatched by a feudal-centric government against the development of Sindh.

The opposition members who had been agitating against the system since the promulgation of the ordinance on September 7, 2012 also joined the PPP camp and were of the view that their struggle finally forced the government to reverse its decision. Members belonging to Pakistan Muslim League Functional (PML-F), National Peoples Party (NPP) and PML-Q (likeminded) also chanted slogans along with PPP members in favour of the move.

As the session started after a four-hour delay owing to PPP’s parliamentary meeting, Law Minister Ayaz Soomro sought the speaker’s attention to move a motion.

He declared, “I want to move an important motion for legislation.”

As Soomro began to table the resolution to repeal the SPLGO, all PPP MPAs rose on foot, thumping their desks loudly in support of his motion.

“Both the local government systems are in favour of the people living in Sindh, but we are repealing the SPLGO law because the opposition and nationalists have started an anti-government propaganda against it — misguiding the innocent people. Therefore the old system is now being revived,” the PPP minister declared.

MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari, whose party recently broke its alliance with the ruling coalition in the province, said, “This bill is not on the agenda. It will be unfair to move such a motion without prior knowledge to our parliamentary leader. We will not let this happen,” he vowed.

Notwithstanding, Soomro continued reading his motion to repeal the SPLGO and revive the old system, which was introduced by General Ziaul Haq in 1979.

Within minutes chaos gripped the session and members of the PPP and MQM starting hurling accusations and chanting slogans against each other.

Sabzwari along with other MQM MPAs protested in front of the speaker’s rostrum and said, “Since day one you people [PPP] have been calling the SPLGO a unique system, but suddenly you have changed your mind and have taken a U-turn against it,” he lamented.

Information Minister Sharjeel Memon clarified, “The SPLGO is not against the interest of this province, but since some elements are misguiding the innocent people giving impressions that the system has divided Sindh, therefore we are repealing it.”

Despite many attempts the speaker did not permit the opposition to speak on the legislation.

Later while speaking to media, Sindh Assembly Speaker Khuhro said that Sindh Governor Dr Ishtraul Ebad Khan should give his consent to the bill to make it an act.

“Until and unless the governor does not give assent, it will not become a law,” he said adding that as per law, the governor has to give consent within 90 working days otherwise the bill will be referred back to the assembly.

“If the governor sends back the bill to the assembly without his consent then the assembly has a right to pass it again and the governor’s consent in the situation is not necessary to convert it into an act.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2013.

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