President Asif Ali Zardari in meeting with federal ministers belonging to Sindh at the Presidency in Islamabad on Thursday. – Photo by PPI

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party has decided to table a consensus local government bill in the Sindh Assembly to address the grievances of all sections of people in the province.

The decision was taken at a meeting of Sindh PPP leaders presided over by President Asif Ali Zardari here on Thursday.

“We presented our point of view before the president and he assured us that grievances of Sindhi people would be addressed in the new LG system to be enforced in the province,” Law Minister Moula Bakhsh Chandio told Dawn.

The Sindh government rolled back the recently-enforced commissioner system and restored the Musharraf-era local government system in the province on Sunday to win back the Muttahida Qaumi Movement which had quit the coalition government.

An ordinance to that effect was issued by Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad, but the provincial government will have to get a bill adopted in the assembly to make it a law because under the 18th Amendment no ordinance can be promulgated for a second time.

The meeting decided that the LG system would not be replaced; it would be made to suit all stakeholders.

“The meeting discussed the political situation in Sindh and decided to continue dialogue with all political forces with a view to fulfilling democratic aspiration of the people of the province,” president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

The meeting was attended by Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Rehman Malik, Moula Bakhsh Chandio, Ghous Bux Mahar, Syed Khursheed Shah, Dr Asim Hussain, Syed Naveed Qamar, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Rukhsana Bangash, Fouzia Habib and Farhatullah Babar. Interestingly, former law minister Babar Awan whose role in connection with the restoration of the LG system was severely criticised by PPP ministers from Sindh was not invited to the meeting.

The meeting was of the opinion that those who were in minority in the Sindh Assembly should accept the decision of majority on the restoration of the LG system. “The government has restored the LG system because it was under severe pressure to maintain peace in Karachi. Now everyone should realise the situation and should not talk about the division of Sindh,” the law minister said.

Ghaus Bux Mahar said the president had been apprised of merits of the commissioner system that had been revived for a week. “President Zardari said he was negotiating with the MQM so that they could rejoin the coalition government and the issue of LG system would also be resolved in consultation with the Muttahida,” Mr Mahar added.

Answering a question about the absence of Senator Babar Awan from the meeting, he said some PPP leaders had complained to the president about the role played by him in the restoration of the LG system and ‘mishandling’ of the issue.

According to sources, the PPP leadership was of the opinion that grievances of nationalist parties had been addressed with the restoration of a uniform LG system in the entire province.

Leaders of Sindh nationalist parties have rejected the LG system and decided to launch a campaign, with a strike on Saturday, against the government till the restoration of the commissioner system.

“We will not accept any amendment to the Local Government Ordinance 2001 even if we are invited by the PPP for talks on the proposed bill,” Jeay Sindh Tehrik chief Dr Safdar Sarki said.

He said nationalist parties had opposed the Musharraf-era LG system because it was meant for the benefit of only one party -- Muttahida Qaumi Movement. “It is unfair that Karachi with a population over 20 million has been made one district and Hyderabad with a population of only two million has been split into four districts,” he said.

Dr Sarki said the issue could be resolved only if the government first enforced the commissioner system and then convened a meeting of all stakeholders and political parties for a consensus on what sort of system should be imposed in Sindh.

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