PA decries Centre’s proposal to take over Karachi

Updated September 17, 2019

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As Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah warned that any harm to Sindh would be detrimental to the federation, the provincial legislature on Monday passed a resolution by a majority vote rejecting the “nefarious” proposal by a federal minister for handing over administrative control of Sindh’s capital to the Centre.
— AFP/File
As Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah warned that any harm to Sindh would be detrimental to the federation, the provincial legislature on Monday passed a resolution by a majority vote rejecting the “nefarious” proposal by a federal minister for handing over administrative control of Sindh’s capital to the Centre. — AFP/File

KARACHI: As Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah warned that any harm to Sindh would be detrimental to the federation, the provincial legislature on Monday passed a resolution by a majority vote rejecting the “nefarious” proposal by a federal minister for handing over administrative control of Sindh’s capital to the Centre.

The resolution was presented by Pakistan Peoples Party’s Sohrab Sarki and Marui Rashdi after Speaker Siraj Durrani relaxed all relevant rules and allowed suspension of the remaining day’s business.

The resolution was opposed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. However, the Grand Democratic Alliance did not oppose it.

The resolution said: “This house vehemently condemns and categorically rejects the nefarious proposal of separating Karachi from Sindh province as proposed by a federal minister when he threatened to impose Article 149(4) of the Constitution of Pakistan.

Political victimisation is being done on the pretext of accountability, says Faryal

“[The house] feels strongly that such an unjustified announcement threatens the unity of the federation, especially after the passage of 18th constitutional amendment,” it added.

“[The house] believes that strong and autonomous federating units/provinces strengthen the federation; and [the house] expresses its deep anguish over the federal government’s continuous conspiracies against [the] provincial autonomy.”

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah repeated the words of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari when he said: “The federation could not be saved if any harm to Sindh’s unity is inflicted.”

“Sindh is mother of Pakistan; this assembly was the first that had passed the resolution for the creation of Pakistan and this province has always rendered sacrifices to save our great country.”

He said the country would be defended with all means until the PPP was there in the field.

“Ours is the party which has always been combating the champions of Sindhudesh. We are not like you who had, from time to time, formed associations with them,” said Mr Shah.

He termed the formation of a certain ‘Karachi Strategic Committee’ as an “unconstitutional step” taken by Islamabad, adding that since the Constitution accorded executive powers to the provincial government, establishing such committees by the central government was “a serious violation of the Constitution”.

Mr Shah said when the committee was being formed, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail had told him that the committee would not last longer than a week and its mandate was to furnish recommendations to the federal and provincial governments.

“My government has not yet received any report from that committee; instead, the federal law minister spoke about the Centre’s takeover of Karachi.”

He said such a statement by the federal minister had created extreme anger in the people living across the province.

“People are angry across Sindh; they are protesting, [taking] out rallies and staging demonstrations.

“I am here to make it clear that no one can take administrative control of my capital. How can anyone take control of our largest city, which has been Sindh’s capital for much longer than a century?”

He wondered how an individual who was entrusted to hold the portfolio of law was not following the Constitution.

CM Shah said a resolution against such a ‘conspiracy’ was overdue on the part of the provincial legislature.

“I request everyone in the house, no matter which side they are sitting, should support this Constitution; else the people of Sindh will never support you in future.”

Responding to an earlier statement made by MQM-P’s parliamentary leader Kunwar Naveed, the chief minister said slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto had “never kept a single penny for the construction of Kalabagh dam during two of her tenures.”

He said: “The puppet and undemocratic forces’ intention to harm Sindh is equal to harming the federation.”

Mr Shah said Prime Minister Imran Khan had been violating the Constitution continuously.

“The federal government has not held a meeting of the Council of Common Interests for the past 10 months, while the Constitution makes it mandatory to hold such meetings every 90 days. Similarly, instead of two, the prime minister conducted a single meeting of the National Economic Council.”

Lifting of city garbage

Regarding the controversy over the lifting of garbage from the city, Mr Shah said primarily it was a responsibility of the district municipal corporations. However, to help them, the provincial government formed a body for it in 2014 until elected municipal leaderships had assumed the charge.

He said a committee headed by the attorney general had submitted a report in favour of Sindh vis-à-vis share from the Indus water according to the 1991 Accord.

Mr Shah said he had got messages that the federal law minister wanted to meet him; “but, I will not meet him until he tenders an unconditional apology to the people of Sindh”.

Earlier, mover of the resolution Safdar Sarki said the federal minister’s statement regarding Karachi’s takeover was “a suicide attack on the Constitution”.

Marui Rashdi, the other mover, said Sindh was not a lollypop in the hand of an orphan that could be snatched by anyone.

MQM-P’s Kunwar Naveed accused the PPP leadership of playing, yet again, the “Sindh card” to conceal its mismanagement and corruption. He claimed Benazir Bhutto was the first prime minister who had allocated a hefty amount for the construction of Kalabagh dam.

The MQM-P leader said his party would not stop speaking about new provinces and imposition of Article 149 until “injustices to the people of Karachi are stopped”.

The MQM-P lawmaker repeated his earlier statement and accused the PPP leadership of supporting the creation of “Sindhudesh”.

GDA’s parliamentary leader Hasnain Mirza said Sindh had always been unified and would always remain the same. He said unity of the federation was linked to the unity of Sindh.

The chair asked Mr Mirza whether he supported the resolution, which the latter avoided.

The resolution was adopted by a majority with the MQM-P and PTI lawmakers opposing it.

Faryal Talpur

Earlier, Faryal Talpur thanked the chair for issuing her production orders and the house for passing a resolution to allow her to attend the session. She also thanked the Lahore High Court which ordered the implementation of the production orders.

She said she was not against accountability, but that should be across the board.

“Political victimisation is being done on the pretext of accountability. People are arbitrarily being arrested and subjected to torture. Businessmen are hugely disturbed as people are being humiliated in the name of accountability.”

She said people were highly troubled because of the price hike in the country.

She hoped after extension in his tenure, the army chief would play a better role for the stability in the country. She said her party shared the grief of the families of the soldiers being martyred along the Line of Control.

The house also paid homage to Ghulam Shah Jilani, who was elected six times as a member of the Sindh Assembly and recently died.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2019