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PPP move to create ‘Lyari district’ in Karachi irks MQM

September 17, 2013

KARACHI, Sept 16: The Sindh government of the Pakistan Peoples Party on Monday “decided in principle” to establish new districts in the province with at least one in Karachi in a move that could further sour its relations with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which vowed to “resist the decision democratically and constitutionally”.

At a meeting held at the Chief Minister House and presided over by local bodies minister Syed Owais Muzaffar, senior officials and leaders of the party discussed proposals made about new districts in the province.

Sources privy to the discussion said the PPP leaders came up with their deliberations to bifurcate Karachi’s south district and establish the party stronghold Lyari as a district.

“There were several proposals to address the agenda of today’s meeting,” said a source privy to the details of the meeting. “There was almost a consensus among the participants to establish Lyari as a district. One only can call it a decision in principle that would follow further discussions and formal process.”

He said a proposal was also discussed to make Sujawal a disctrict, which was currently a Taluka of Thatta district and also near the electoral constituency of the local bodies minister.

The meeting’s discussion also echoed in a brief chat of Karachi PPP president Abdul Qadir Patel with the media. Though he did not elaborate the government’s plan, his remarks were enough to hint at the future line of action by the ruling party regarding the province’s local bodies structure.

“New districts are being established in line with Karachi people’s desire,” he said. “It’s been their longstanding demand which we plan to fulfil. But let me assure everyone that the new districts would be made only to strengthen administrative control of municipal bodies, which has nothing to do with politics.”

Answering a query regarding the ongoing ‘Karachi operation’, he insisted that it was only against criminals, which was agreed to by all parties at the prime minister-chaired all-party conference. The decision to launch an ‘operation’ was taken only after a consensus of the parties, he added.

His comments on the Karachi operation had already been rejected by the MQM, as the opposition party in recent statements and at demonstrations called it against its workers and voters and it was also not convinced with Mr Patel’s views about new districts mainly in Karachi.

“New districts are not established on anyone’s desire or personal plan,” said the MQM’s deputy parliamentary leader in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan. “It’s purely a constitutional matter, which should be discussed at a proper forum before making it public. The MQM will not accept any such proposal and it enjoys legal rights to oppose it.”

Answering a question about the proposal to establish Lyari as a new Karachi district, he said the PPP government was more interested in bringing all city resources under its control rather than serving the people of Karachi through a mandate, which had been enjoyed by his party (MQM) for the last three decades.

“So one should take it (proposal to establish new districts) as a sincere effort to serve the Karachiites but it’s an attempt to bring all resources under their (PPP) control. We don’t accept this and will resist this move in a democratic and constitutional way,” added Mr Hasan.