KARACHI, July 19: Pakistan Muslim League-N president Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and the chief of Sindh United Party, Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, formally announced here on Thursday that their parties would jointly contest the coming general elections and support each other’s candidates under a seat adjustment formula.
They pledged to strive for maximum provincial autonomy within the ambit of the Constitution, to protect the territorial and geographical boundaries of Sindh and implement the 1991 Indus water accord in letter and spirit.
They signed an eight-point declaration at a ceremony attended by important leaders of both the parties.
The declaration calls for improving the NFC award for giving maximum space to provinces to generate resources and become masters of their financial destiny. The parties pledged to take strong measures to combat all forms of religious, sectarian and ethnic violence and terrorism in Sindh and act firmly against the perpetrators.
They agreed to take effective measures against corruption and bad governance and pursue an independent foreign policy.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sharif reiterated that the PML-N would never accept division of Sindh and said the country could not afford a martial law or any other extra-constitutional action.He said all democratic forces should unite to steer the country out of the crisis it was facing.
He said the declaration augured well not only for Sindh but for the whole country.
He said the PML-N wanted all parties with a similar agenda to unite on one platform to promote a healthy political culture in which politicians, instead of indulging in mudslinging against each other, should address disparities to bring all regions at par wit each other. He said most of Pakistan’s problems were the outcome of social disparity.
The former prime minister said national sovereignty was at stake and the situation in Karachi and Balochistan was the outcome of the government’s inept policies, rampant corruption, disregard of merit in recruitment, politics of vested interests, extortion, target killings, terrorism and inept governance. He blamed the government and its allied parties for the situation.
Mr Sharif said there were parties in Karachi which had terrorist wings and people with a record of killing up to 100 persons and extortionists.
He said the federal and provincial governments could not curb terrorism and the city administration could not bring criminals to justice.
He said that had President Asif Ali Zardari honoured the Charter of Democracy, the country would have been on the road to progress and prosperity and the PML-N would have been supporting him.
SUP president Jalal Shah referred to the resolution adopted in 1940 in Lahore and said groups with vested interests had grabbed power and resources of the provinces after independence.
Under the local government system introduced in 2002, he said, an effort had been made to take over the departments devolved to the provinces and in the garb of increasing administrative powers of the districts a justification was being created to divide the province.
He said the country was being governed centrally in violation of the spirit of federalism. As a result there was unrest among the federating units to the extent that there was a rebellion-like situation in Balochistan and unrest was also growing in Sindh. He said the provinces were once again criticising the federation over the issue of autonomy. This could result in a tragedy but the crisis could be resolved through joint efforts.
Mr Shah said the eight-point declaration was not a complete programme for autonomy but a milestone which could open the gate to talks between the federation and federating units.
Shah Muhammad Shah, senior vice-president of the SUP, appealed to all democratic forces to work jointly to find a solution to the pressing problems faced by the country and turn it into a national democratic federation in which all units enjoyed autonomy.
In another significant development, over a dozen prominent politicians of Sindh joined the PML-N in the presence of Mr Sharif at the residence of former chief minister Liaquat Jatoi.
They include Dr Hameeda Khuhro, Shafiq Khoso, Khodal Das Kohistani, Pir of Ranipur Syed Ali Madad Shah, Hasnain Chandio, Mir Ghebi Khan Mogheri, Rubina Gabol, Azizullah Memon, Zakarya Usman, Rehan Hanif, Saleem Shaikh, Zaibun Nisa and Afzal Malik.
In May, senior politician Mumtaz Bhutto had merged his Sindh National Front into the PML-N.