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KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Saturday annou­nced its manifesto for the coming general elections, focusing chiefly on the devolution of power from the centre to district governments and calling for the creation of new provinces within the existing provinces.

Titled ‘Empowered Pakistan’, the manifesto was unveiled by MQM-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui at a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Bahadurabad.

Announcing the party policy, Mr Siddiqui called for the creation of thirteen to twenty administrative units, which he called provinces, “through dialogue and mutual consultation, but on failure, then ultimately through a fair referendum in each division”.

These provinces, the party called, be formed “within the existing provinces”.

The MQM’s document said under Article 239’s Clause 4 of the Constitution, the limits of provinces could not be altered unless it had been passed by a provincial assembly of the province with a two-thirds of majority vote. Besides, “the boundaries of provinces can be changed or new provinces (could be) created if the prime minister considers it necessary to hold a referendum on any matter of importance”.

He said his party, therefore, proposed “creation of more provinces for better governance or administration for prompt and effective delivery of services”.

Party manifesto seeks restoration of the status of Karachi as ‘fully autonomous metropolitan corporation’

“However, these additional provinces will be located within the boundaries of the existing provinces by retaining cultural and historical identity of those provinces.”

The MQM-P’s manifesto elaborated that provinces carved out from an existing province should contain its name (Punjab in case of Punjab) with suffixes such as eastern, western, southern or northern, etc.

On empowerment of local bodies, it called for full empowerment of elected representatives of a local government. Besides, it added, through an amendment a schedule of power of the local government be included in the Constitution to protect the arbitrary attitudes of provincial governments.

Besides, it called for liberal financial resources released from provincial to local governments, and transfer of taxes like motor vehicle tax, excise and stamp duties, property registration fee, tax on services from provincial to local governments.

It demanded restoration of the status of Karachi as “fully autonomous Metropolitan Corporation” by abolishing its “unnatural six districts”.

It also called for transforming traditional democracy into “participatory democracy”, abolition of quota system, establishing unity of command, curbing money laundering and adopting realistic economic goals.

Mr Siddiqui said Pakistan was in dire need of good governance and claimed decentralisation of power would improve the country’s system.

He said participatory democracy would help end discriminatory allocation of funds, recruitment of candidates without merit, postings and transfers of “blue-eyed boys (of those in power) against key jobs, etc”.

It also proposed a change in electoral laws to make them more inclusive, increase in forums for youths and women at taluka level to ensure their participation, etc.

The MQM-P’s manifesto also advised for provision and easy access to basic facilities like health and education for people.

For better policing system, it said the state should establish a “unity of command”, under which police and Sindh Rangers were answerable to the provincial government.

The manifesto discussed the economic challenges being faced by the country, including Pakistan’s placement on Financial Action Task Force’s ‘grey list’.

It suggested measures to ensure an improvement in the economy in coming years, including greater checks and balances on “agents who are helping the unscrupulous big businesses to indulge in money laundering”.

The MQM-P’s manifesto also demanded reduction in the federal government’s spending, drastic cuts in the import of non-essential luxury goods.

It also recommended for strengthening public sector enterprises like Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mills, etc.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2018