Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday hit back at the government over alleged bias in allocating funds for development projects, adding that the provincial government would "no longer tolerate it".
Addressing a press conference, Shah said: "Don't make an East India Company here. We will not tolerate it, we will resist. Don't treat Sindh in this way and don't create two Pakistans.
"The federal government is spending money on the provinces. Fine, but at least consult with us and look at the priorities. We are the representatives," he said, adding that it was obvious other priorities were being looked at when making allocations for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
It is not a good thing that you are going to union councils to make roads and drains under the prime minister's programme, he said.
Shah also said that schemes were allocated in the PDSP without informing the province due to "pressure". "During one of the meetings, a gentlemen said that their hands were tied due to pressure from MNAs and MPAs. I stayed quiet, but this is contempt of court," he said, stating that the Supreme Court had said funds could not be given to MNAs and MPAs.
Union Council schemes for Gujrat and Bahawalpur were included in the prime ministers' programme, he said, adding that this was being done as the government was facing "problems" with the voter bank in these areas.
"Many of the PDSP schemes are for south Punjab because they are facing issues there." He stated that development funds should be given to the provinces so that they can address the needs of the people.
"They say they will give funds to the people of Sindh, not the government. Why is this only applicable to Sindh? They used to say Pakistan is one not two. Is this one Pakistan?"
The chief minister made it clear that his grievances were with the federal government and not with the other provinces.
"I am elated when I hear about development in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. this is only for comparison, to show the discrimination against us. Spend four times as much money [in other provinces]. but if you do that then give us more too."
He claimed that allocations for development projects were being done "directly from Islamabad" to address "drains in union councils".
Letter to PM Imran
Last week, Shah had urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to reconsider the proposed PDSP, terming it lopsided as it was ‘detrimental’ to the interests of people living in the province.
In a strongly worded letter to the prime minister, he said ever since the current federal government came to power, it was treating Sindh with an abject bias. "Grave injustice is being meted out to the people of Sindh ever since the current federal government came into power in August 2018," he wrote in the letter.
Giving the four-year break-up of the number of schemes and their allocation for provincially executed projects for Sindh in the PSDP, he said only six schemes with a total allocation of Rs5,069.14 million were proposed in 2021, while the number of schemes in 2017-18 was 27 with a total allocation of Rs23,387.21m.
He said there were 10 schemes with allocation of Rs8,302m in 2020-21, 13 schemes of Rs8.508.85m in 2019-20 and 22 schemes with allocation of 14,266.72m in 2018-19.
A day later, federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar hit back at Shah over his letter and affirmed the federal government’s commitment to development projects in Sindh.
Umar said if the allocations set aside for federal projects in Sindh in the last three years of the previous government were compared to the incumbent government's three years, then there was an increase of more than 32 per cent.
He hit out at CM Murad and alleged he was "confused" and couldn't differentiate between the people of the province and the provincial government. "Chief minister sahab you are definitely [a part of] Sindh's government but you are not Sindh's masses and we have to spend money on Sindh's people, not the government," Umar said.
Umar claimed that previously, funds sent to the provincial government had instead been diverted to other purposes such as accumulating properties and assets instead of being spent on Sindh and the people of the province were aware about this.
He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan had within one year announced two historic development packages for Sindh which covered rural and urban areas with a total of 18 districts being covered under the two packages.
Sindh is getting ‘full-fledged’ share: Asad Umar
Responding to the chief minister, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Tuesday reiterated that the Sindh government was receiving ‘full-fledged’ share from the federal government for development works, which was not curtailed at any point.
Addressing a press conference later in the day, Umar said the Sindh chief minister had complained that the province was being marginalised and deprived of its deserving share. “Let’s take the case of motorway, I must tell you that not an inch of motorway was built by the PPP government in Sindh. We gave Rs98 billion for motorways development and its completion.”
He underlined that currently Rs90 billion were being given to the Government of Sindh for different development projects, while of Rs61 billion had been allocated from the viability gap fund, with its major chunk going towards the Karachi Circular Railway and Sukkur motorway.
He also highlighted that water projects worth Rs25 billion were currently underway in Sindh.
Umar reiterated that we must be able to differentiate between the people of Sindh and the Sindh government, and the federal government was serving the former.