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PA session put off over draft LG law ‘discord’

Updated August 13, 2013

KARACHI, Aug 12: Objections raised by members of the Sindh cabinet on Monday to a draft local government law prepared by a ministerial committee forced the Pakistan Peoples Party government to adjourn for one week a provincial assembly sitting earlier summoned on Tuesday.

The Sindh Assembly session was called on Tuesday and it was expected that the draft Sindh Local Government Bill, 2013 would be presented in the house to meet the Aug 15 deadline set by the Supreme Court to finalise the process of promulgating new laws and conducting delimitation of constituencies for early local government elections.

The date of the assembly session was changed in the evening after the Sindh cabinet meeting, presided over by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, where a ministerial committee comprising Nisar Khuhro, Owais Muzaffar, Sharjeel Memon, Dr Sikandar Mandhro, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani and adviser to the CM Murad Ali Shah presented the draft LG law to seek formal approval of the cabinet before tabling it in the assembly.Sources said that some members of the cabinet, all belonging to the governing PPP, had raised certain objections to the draft bill and it was decided that the ministerial committee tasked with finalising the draft law would allay apprehensions of cabinet members by incorporating their input in the draft law within the next two days.

The Sindh cabinet members were informed that the LG elections would be held on a party basis.

Some members also urged the chief minister to consult lawmakers belonging to his own party over the issue before seeking approval from the cabinet because they would have to run a campaign for the LG elections in their respective constituencies if the government held them on a party basis.

According to the sources, the CM said on the occasion that the PPP’s parliamentary party was meeting in the evening and all members would be taken into confidence on the draft LG bill.

The CM also gave the ministerial committee two days to meet and consult all parties in the provincial assembly over the draft law.

Advocate General for Sindh Khalid Jawed Khan told Dawn that the draft LG law was presented before the Sindh cabinet and the members raised ‘political issues’ on it.

Regarding the apex court’s deadline, the chief law officer of the province said that in view of the Eid and Independence Day holidays, the Sindh government would request the Supreme Court on Aug 15 to allow it a few more days so that it could table and get passed the LG bill from the assembly.

“Before tabling it in the assembly, the government will make it public for all parties and stakeholders for their input,” he added.

A CM House statement said that the draft LG law was presented at the cabinet meeting by the ministerial committee and members of the provincial cabinet “also gave their suggestions” in that regard.

Following the cabinet meeting, a handout was issued about the provincial assembly sitting. It reads: “Agha Siraj Khan Durrani, Speaker, Provincial Assembly of Sindh has adjourned the sitting of the House which was being held on Tuesday, August 13, 2013. It will be held on Monday, August 19, 2013 at 9.30am.”