An avoidable debate

15 Oct 2020


THE federal and Sindh governments must stop trading barbs. The federal government’s posture seems to hardening and that is not good for the future, although opposition leaders’ vituperative rhetoric has much to do with it. No amount of rhetoric or hobnobbing with rejected politicians is going to bring relief to anyone; softness may.

The latest is the exchange of barbs over the two offshore islands of Sindh. This is an unnecessary debate and an unnecessary issue. There are much more things — more urgent things — for the Centre to do all over the country than to get involved in setting up what appears to be tourist resorts. And the earlier it moves away from its plans, the better it will be for itself.

The federal government has nothing to do with tourism. All that it is doing in Islamabad — setting up committees, creating ordinances and making Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation the delivery mechanism of it all — is contrary to the Constitution.

The 18th amendment folded up — even if wrongly — the concurrent list which spelled out the subjects that were to be handled by the federation and the provinces, leaving the residuals to the provincial governments. The consequent documents are clear in re-assigning the responsibilities of the defunct ministry of tourism to the provinces.

It gave an extra lease of life to PTDC until it hands over the properties vested with it to the various provinces. The corporation has been continuing beyond its time under the umbrella of Nawaz Sharif; it should be folded up forthwith.

Recently, PTDC transferred its motels to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government because they were continuously making losses, but to date it has not handed over the properties to the Sindh government. It released a prized-rented property to the owners without information to the Sindh government.

So, the ordinance for the islands should be rescinded and the subject matter closed until of course a constitutional amendment is brought about restoring the concurrent list with tourism, culture and health.

Syed I. R. Kazimi

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2020