POLITICAL polarisation in the country extracts a cost from governance. It is therefore heartening to see the governor and chief minister of Sindh making an effort to reduce tension and form a constructive working relationship. The two top office holders of the province met recently to discuss important issues pertaining to governance. Similarly, President Arif Alvi also met Governor Imran Ismail in Karachi and stressed the need for dialogue to resolve Sindh’s issues. This is the right approach to adopt at a time when the government and opposition are unable to form a functional working relationship. There are various bones of contention between the federal government of PTI and the Sindh government of PPP that require sustained engagement between officials from both sides. The islands issue, in which the federal government wants to develop two islands off the coast of Sindh through bringing in foreign investment, remains unresolved. Prime Minister Imran Khan has been taking a personal interest in this issue but the Sindh government maintains that the federal government has no jurisdiction over the islands. Both sides should take advantage of the relative lowering of political temperatures to engage with each and try find a solution. Similarly another issue pertaining to the ownership of hospitals in Karachi also requires a constructive approach so that the citizens do not suffer because of a tussle between the two governments. Even in terms of the ambitious Karachi package that was announced last year, there remains a lack of coordination that is adversely affecting its proper implementation. Governance in Sindh has remained a challenging issue in the past due to the split mandate between the PPP and parties such as the MQM. Since the 2018 elections, the PTI has also become an important stakeholder in the province. It is therefore all the more important that the PPP and PTI forge a good working relationship that can facilitate governance in the province.

The president can use his good offices to push for greater coordination between these stakeholders. The fact that he himself hails from Karachi, and served as an MNA in the last term, means that he is fully acquainted with the problems and issues that afflict the province as well as the way it is governed. He has done well to send a positive message and he should remain engaged in order to help the PTI and PPP work together. Sindh deserves no less.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2021

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