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MQM-P slams ‘plot’ to create new districts in Karachi on ethnic lines

Updated March 16, 2019

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The party reiterates demand that more provinces be carved out on administrative basis. — DawnNewsTV/File
The party reiterates demand that more provinces be carved out on administrative basis. — DawnNewsTV/File

KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan declared on Friday that it would not accept any further division of Karachi on ethnic lines and warned that if the provincial metropolis got two mayors, then the province would also get two chief ministers.

Reacting to reports that the Sindh government was planning to create more districts in Karachi division, MQM-P leaders told a press conference here that the PPP had already divided Karachi on ethnic lines by creating the Malir district in 1994 and no such division would be acceptable this time.

It all started when a section of the media carried news that the Sindh cabinet was going to endorse a provincial government proposal to change the basic demography of Karachi by dividing it from existing six districts into nine districts and create posts of two mayors to run the rural and urban municipal set-up in the city.

The party reiterates demand that more provinces be carved out on administrative basis

The story, despite being widely shared on social media, was not denied by the provincial government. First, disgruntled MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar held a press conference and condemned the PPP government. Then, it was Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Mustafa Kamal who made it clear that Karachi could not be divided in the same way as Sindh could not be bifurcated.

On Friday, MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui along with other leaders held a press conference at the party’s temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad and said that “conspiracies” had been hatched to divide Karachi on ethnic lines.

“The biased government of Sindh is laying the foundation of ethnic divide,” he said, adding: “If a province has the right to divide districts then the federation should also have the right to divide provinces.”

Dr Siddiqui, who is also the federal minister for IT and telecom, went on to say that the MQM-P was still not demanding new provinces on ethnic lines. “[However] it is our demand that more provinces be created on administrative basis.”

Criticising the Sindh chief minister for what he called only representing a single ethnic group, he demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan to pay attention towards the “injustices” to urban areas of the province.

He said that the powers devolved from the federal government had now been concentrated in provinces which were unwilling to empower local governments as per the spirit of the 18th Amendment.

He warned that if immediate attention was not paid towards the problems of urban areas then the people would take to the streets to get their right.

Senior leader Kanwar Naveed Jameel said that the Sindh Secretariat had become a “no-go area for the people of urban areas”. He said that people of Karachi were neglected in over 350,000 government jobs.

Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar also slammed the PPP-led government for what he called already dividing Karachi on ethnic lines and said that it was wreaking havoc with the biggest city of the country.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2019