With a little over three weeks left to meet Supreme Court’s deadline to prepare ground for the local government elections, the Pakistan Peoples Partly-led government in Sindh has started inviting proposals from political parties to make amendments to the law.
In this connection, the government has written letters to different political parties and groups, including the Sindhi nationalists, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, writers, intellectuals and law experts, seeking their suggestions, which are to be sent to the government within five days.
Sindh Law Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro told The Express Tribune that the government wants to avoid any kind of controversy and confrontation in the province, which is why they [PPP] have invited proposals from major stakeholders so that a comprehensive law could be made.
“This will be a new law under the name of Sindh Local Government System 2013,” he said. “We are taking the good clauses from LG systems of 1979 and 2001 and other local government laws prepared by Punjab, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and will give the local government set up a new shape.” He said that the deadline given by the Supreme Court to make the law by August 15 was approaching fast which is why the government chose to send letters to different parties.
Received but not welcomed
Almost all Sindhi nationalist parties acknowledged receiving the letters dispatched by the provincial government’s law department seeking their input on this issue. Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party Sindh President Dr Qadir Magsi, however, called it a “meaningless” approach, saying that sending letters through the post office meant that the Sindh government was not interested in a serious debate on making the law.
“They should organise a consultative meeting or seminar with participation of all major stakeholders. I think the letters sent to nationalists are merely for face-saving,” said Magsi. “How will they acknowledge our suggestions through postal letters? They will probably just discard our proposals in the trash and say they never received them. Considering this scenario, we cannot send them our input.”
Although Awami Tehreek President Ayaz Latif Palijo agreed that corresponding through letters could not be deemed as serious dialogue on the issue, his party would still offer their suggestions, including restoring the status of Hyderabad to a single district like it was in 2001. “We will also recommend giving district status to Lyari and making another district comprising of sub-urban areas - which would bring the total number of districts in Karachi up to seven.” Palijo said that district Nazims/mayors should be elected through direct votes to avoid the politics of “Jor tor”. “The local government system should be under the provincial government and we will never accept the division in urban and rural areas,” he remarked.
The leader of Awami Jamhoori Party, Abrar Kazi, said that they would suggest the government to establish a clear formula regarding distribution of resources which, according to him, was very confusing. “In the previous system, the mayor was given such powers that could challenge even the authority of the chief executive (CM) in the province. We will ask that nazims/mayors be given balanced powers,” he said.
PML-N has formed a three-member committee, comprising Irfanullah Marwat, Shafi Jamot and Humayun Khan, on this issue. Marwat blatantly called it a “drama” being staged by the PPP to make the law of its own will. “PPP is still hoping for MQM to join their government and will not accept the proposals submitted by other political parties. We will ask the government to first show us the initial draft so that we can offer suggestions which would make it suitable for all.” Khawaja Izharul Hasan, deputy parliamentary leader of MQM in the Sindh Assembly, said that the party has not been contacted by the government as yet. “The chief minister had discussed the law with us but no one has approached us formally so far,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.
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