Sindh — time for change

The hope is that these new leaders will be against corruption and urban militancy

Aftab Arif Siddiqui June 25, 2015
The writer is founder of the online Facebook forum “Dialogue of the Civilisations” and is an independent analyst based in London. He tweets @siddiquiaftab

The numbers before us are astounding. Over 12,000 target killings in the last seven years alone; the illegal economy ballooning to amount to over Rs230 billion annually. Who is responsible for this mess in Sindh? Two main political parties, the MQM and the PPP, have been partners in government for long durations, but also occasionally blame each other as obstacles to good governance in the province. However, neither party seems to have an answer to the above question, which is puzzling since both have been in government in one form or the other over the past few decades.

The PPP has in the past and also post-2013, held absolute majorities in the provincial parliament, a prerequisite to getting things done. But the party’s lawmakers are accused of promoting state-level corruption, earning commissions and kickbacks on government contracts, selling government jobs to the highest bidders, appointing government functionaries in exchange of bribes, and maintaining personal privileges at state expense.

And what of the MQM? The party garnered a huge vote bank at its inception having promised to abolish the quota system and improve its supporters’ quality of life. The quota system is still flourishing while the MQM has moved on to new, greener pastures. It has completely wasted its mandate. The ministries it controlled over many years have shown no remarkable improvement with the alleged saga of china cutting, urban militancy and taking commissions on contracts continuing to follow the party. The MQM’s voters, besides voting for the party, have also supported it by giving it billions of rupees annually by way of fitrana and hide donations on Eidul Fitr, Eidul Azha and through other regular collections. However, there are precious few charitable projects to show for the billions the party has collected over decades. If correctly channelised through the Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation, these billions could have helped develop world class hospitals and educational institutions in Karachi to match standards laid down by the Aga Khan University Hospital or LUMS.

A survey conducted by a leading Pakistani publication in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute indicates that Sindh is losing the development race when compared with other provinces. It is behind both, in governance and service delivery; and not surprisingly, respondents believe corruption has increased. The poor haris of Larkana or Khairpur have no access to clean water, and basic health and educational facilities. Their lives are as miserable as labourers living in the katchi abadis of Karachi and Hyderabad, who suffer the same fate every day.

The PPP is not a party with a countrywide presence anymore. A change in its provincial leadership is the golden bullet that may just save it from a complete wipe-out in Sindh. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has to exercise his authority if he really wants to save the party that his beloved mother gave her life for. He should immediately empower young, honest and ideological workers by giving them key responsibilities. Murad Ali Shah is one person who could be given the responsibility to run the province. He can bring in a new vigour and sense of public service back to the PPP government. The MQM leadership is also reviewing the party’s overall structure. A series of changes have been made to its Rabita Committee and the Karachi Tanzeemi Committee has been completely disbanded. The MQM decision-makers felt that its office-bearers were extorting money from businessmen, were involved in land-grabbing and urban militancy, and lacked the spirit of public service. Further reorganisation is expected.

Against this backdrop, the Rangers now have the responsibility to move quickly against corrupt bureaucrats and political leaders as well as militant elements. If law-enforcement agencies are able to successfully nab and prosecute these groups, it will help new leadership to emerge organically from these parties. The hope is that these new leaders will be against corruption and urban militancy. It may just be the first steps to alleviate the sufferings of Sindhis.

Tailpiece: Names for the new governor for Sindh are being considered. The province desperately needs a governor who has personal credibility, organisational capacity and executive capabilities to spearhead a revival of public welfare and infrastructure projects. The new governor’s role will be critical in eliminating corruption and militancy. The powers who may decide this should consider Jameel Yousuf, Dr Shoaib Suddle, Hussain Haroon and Barrister Dr Farogh Naseem as potential options. Each one of these men has the attributes which could be instrumental in turning around the fate of Pakistan’s second-largest province.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2015.

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Sarmad Ateeq | 8 years ago | Reply Some routine intervals in target killings in Karachi cannot be treated as achievement for Sindh government. Such claim is tantamount to deceiving the people. Another example of bad governance was; when Supreme Court of Pakistan instructed the Sindh government to provide list of officers on deputations, the Sindh government submitted the list in the Court three times incomplete because they have no capability to compile correct list of over three hundred officers due to bad governance. What a bad performance!
Kamran Saeed | 8 years ago | Reply The people of Sindh have never seen such an inefficient government during the last 42 years in the province despite having an “army” of ministers. No doubt, PPP would suffer in the next general elections during the bad governance in the province. Very sad!
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