In compliance with Supreme Court orders, the Sindh government has decided to amend the existing local government law of 1979 by August 15 before holding the local government elections.
At the cabinet meeting at CM House on Wednesday, the government decided to form an eight-member committee to accelerate its dialogues with major political parties, including Sindhi nationalists, and prepare an amended draft so that the law is acceptable to all stakeholders.
The committee will work under the supervision of Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro and provincial ministers, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Owais Muzaffar, Hazar Khan Bijarani, Sharjeel Inam Memon and Murad Ali Shah.
Briefing the media on the cabinet’s decision, Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said that the committee members will contact the political parties for their proposals and feedback and ask them to file those within five to six days.
“We also invite different stakeholders through the media to send their suggestions to the committee so that a comprehensive and non-controversial law could be made,” he said. Once the final draft is ready, the cabinet will give its approval before putting it before the provincial assembly for legislation, he added.
On the changes proposed by the cabinet to this law, Memon said the provincial government seeks to enhance the number of reserved seats for women in the municipal bodies and ascertain the powers and authority of district and provincial governments. Clarifying the provincial government’s stance, the information minister said that the local government elections will be held under the existing constituencies.
“Earlier, we had sought six months from the Supreme Court and were thinking of starting the delimitation of constituencies and the subsequent voter registration, which could have taken a few months,” he explained. “But now, we are pursuing the apex court orders to hold the elections as soon as we can.”
The cabinet members also decided to review the appointments made by the caretaker government and the allegedly fake orders issued by officials during the last tenure of the Pakistan Peoples Party-led provincial government.
“It has been decided on principle that all the fake orders issued in various departments, including the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, local government, education and health departments would be declared invalid and people appointed during the caretaker government would be removed from their services,” he said, adding that the caretaker government could only facilitate the election commission in holding free and fair elections and cannot appoint people in various departments. “Not only will these orders be cancelled but strict action will be taken against officials found involved.”
Trade of illegal weapons
Criticising the trade of illegal weapons in Sindh, Memon said that, “The officials of the Sindh government have confiscated three trucks loaded with latest weapons in the past few days.” All those weapons were being transported from the Punjab to create a law and order situation in Karachi and the rest of the province, he claimed. “The cabinet has decided to strengthen security at provincial borders by deputing more police and Rangers personnel.”
Sindh’s share of divisible pool
According to the minister, the Sindh cabinet also took strong exception to the federal government’s decision to deduct Rs5 billion of Sindh from the divisible pool against payments for electricity bills. “Wapda had sent wrong and exorbitant bills to various departments of the Sindh government and this is a disputed issue,” he insisted, adding that the federal government’s decision to deduct Sindh’s share in the divisible pool is totally illegal.
“Sindh will take up this case at the upcoming CCI meeting,” he said, adding that this kind of decision by the federal government will lead to confrontation between the province and the centre.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2013.