KARACHI: The reported leak of an inquiry report over the mismanagement of the recent drought situation in Tharparkar district has exposed the internal rifts and lack of coordination within the different tiers of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the provincial government, it emerged on Sunday.
According to senior party leaders, the situation worsened when PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari issued show-cause notices to PPP Sindh president and Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Manzoor Wassan, who is also the party’s provincial deputy general secretary, over the mishandling of the situation in Thar and asked them to submit their replies.
“Such a hasty order has validated the report prepared by Wassan,” said a senior party official on the condition of anonymity.
Officials in the provincial government also said it came as a shock to them when the news of Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s show-cause notices flashed on TV channels putting the Sindh government in an awkward position.
“All this shows lack of coordination between the party and the government,” said the official. “It also indicates the overlapping of the party and the government.”
The senior official said that not everything was in the hands of the chief minister, who technically heads the provincial government.“He is an honest person but many decisions are not in his hands.”
For instance, he explained, major decisions such as whether the MQM be a partner in the provincial set-up were made by the party’s key stalwarts.
A PPP lawmaker gave another example of this kind of interference. “He [Bilawal] appointed Mr Wassan to investigate the recent drought in Thar. This was an administrative decision which falls solely within the purview of the provincial government head.”
Similarly, officials said the show-cause notices issued to the provincial chief executive and his cabinet member showed how the young leadership acted without properly investigating the matter.
The notices were withdrawn within a couple of days, though sources said the two individuals were officially not given those notices in writing.
Taking some damage control measures, a party leader said the party’s leadership had decided to release the report being prepared by Mr Wassan to the public in a week or so.
A PPP leader close to the party’s hierarchy claimed that the report on the drought in Thar in the media was ‘fabricated and concocted’, that had nothing to do with the actual report Mr Wassan was preparing.
“The fact is Mr Wassan has not yet completed his report and there seems to be a well-planned conspiracy to show a chasm in the PPP Sindh. Our government is investigating the matter,” he said.
He also referred to reports about sand-filled wheat bags meant to be supplied to the Tharis. “Which government would want to smear its reputation by supplying sand-filled wheat bags? These reports reek of a conspiracy against our government and the party.”
A minister in the provincial government admitted that several children had died in Thar because of malnutrition. However, he said those were because of long-term health conditions in the region.
“We have been supplying wheat for free for more than two years to the people of Thar. But the death of children is mainly because of malnourished mothers who give birth to more children than the rest of Sindh without proper birth spacing. Thus they are born weak causing them to die early,” he added.
Sources claim that party and government officials have been asked to avoid the media and make efforts to ensure everyone was on the same page.
A PPP leader said the media should discuss facts in the forthcoming report by Mr Wassan and compare to see how different it was from the facts about the Thar drought that they had earlier publicised.
On the other hand, some observers claim the provincial government is amending the ‘original report’ with ‘new and less damaging’ details.
Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2014