KARACHI: Federal Infor­mation Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday urged the Supreme Court to ensure implementation of Article 140-A of the constitution to address a “constitutional crisis” in Sindh.

He accused the provincial chief minister of indulging in “nationalist politics” as a “puppet of Zardari family” and misusing development funds. He blamed the top PPP leadership and provincial ministers for water shortage in Sindh.

Speaking at a press conference at the Governor House and talking to media at Arts Council, the minister said Article 140-A pertained to local government system and devolution of political, administrative and financial powers.

He said this was needed as there was no room for governor’s rule in the constitution which was not a solution of the problems.

Federal govt’s ‘hypocritical, unjust’ policies for the province are well known, says PPP

Mr Chaudhry warned that the whole country would suffer if politics of hatred spread in Sindh.

The federal minister also accused the Sindh government of misusing development funds.

“Around Rs1,600-1,800 billion have been transferred to Sindh during the past two to three years and with the provincial share being increased in the new budget … the province will be getting another Rs700-750bn through the NFC (National Finance Commission) award,” he said and asked: “Where do these funds go?”

Mr Chaudhry said Sindh police were not capable of restoring peace in Karachi, therefore, the provincial government had to rely on Rangers to maintain law and order since 1990s.

He said it appeared that the functionaries of the Sindh government had limited their role to enjoying protocols.

“They take huge sums for areas like Ghotki and Badin, which produce gas and oil, on account of special development packages. But look at the state of Badin and Ghotki,” he said.

The minister said the healthcare system in Sindh had been destroyed and the situation was so dire that the Supreme Court had to intervene and direct the Centre to take over administrative control of three main hospitals of Sindh, namely the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and National Institute of Child Health.

“The MPAs from Sindh’s leadership need to think about such issues,” observed the minister.

Reiterating that the province was getting sufficient funds without any record of where they were being spent and with no visible signs of investment in its cities and districts, he said a PPP member was made chief minister after every five years “who is then used by the Zardari family as a puppet”.

“Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and the provincial assembly have been left with no decision-making [powers]. The decision-making does not rest with those in the assembly, but with the people in Bilawal House,” he alleged. “This is a constitutional crisis Sindh is going through.”

He also accused the provincial government of giving contracts of different projects to its favourite persons.

Highlighting the need to hold local government elections in line with Article 140-A, he said enforcement of the said provision would mean devolution of administrative, financial and political powers to the district level, and termed it the only means for Sindh’s rural and urban populations to get their due rights.

The minister drew attention to the leadership and other influential persons of Sindh entering plea bargain deals with the National Accountability Bureau. He claimed that the anti-graft watchdog had received the largest amount in plea bargain deals from Sindh.

“And this amount is just the tip of the iceberg as a larger fraction of the sum has been sent to Dubai and London,” he alleged, referring to money laundering cases against PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.

He claimed that shortage of water in Sindh was because of the provincial ministers. He said Punjab and other provinces were saying that Sindh was receiving more water than its share.

The federal minister alleged that Sindh’s water was not being stolen by Punjab but it was Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and the chief minister and ministers of Sindh who were involved in stealing water. “Water to lands of Asif Zardari and his sister has never been stopped.”

Mr Chaudhry opined that if independent observers were appointed, it would be clear as to how much water Sindh was getting.

Fawad Chaudhry paid a visit to Karachi Arts Council and viewed the facilities being provided to encourage artists, adds APP.

On his arrival, KAC President Ahmed Mohammad Shah, Vice President Munawar Saeed, Secretary Aijaz Ahmed Farooqui, other office-bearers and members of governing body welcomed the visitors.

The minister inspected open air and AC auditoriums, visual studio, library and other sections of the Arts Council.

Ahmed Shah briefed the minister about performance, functioning and future plans of the council.

The information minister also planted a sapling at the lawn of the Arts Council.

Sindh govt’s reaction

Reacting to the statement of Fawad Chaudhry, the Sindh government’s spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said what the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had done to the country and the people was an open secret. “The incompetent government has made the people scream.”

Mr Wahab said the PPP was a patriotic party that had sacrificed even the lives of its leaders for the sake of the country and democracy. “Fawad Chaudhry should teach the lesson of patriotism to someone else.”

Mr Wahab said the “hypocritical and unjust” policies of the “selected” federal government for Sindh were well known to the people here. “Whether it is the NFC award or the water issue, Sindh has always been abused. Syed Murad Ali Shah is fighting well for the people of Sindh.”

The spokesman said Mr Chaudhry’s job would not be secured by talking nonsense against Mr Zardari and Mr Bhutto-Zardari. “The incompetent [deferral] government is standing on the crutches of lies and utopia and it will soon fall victim to the wrath of the oppressed people.”

The spokesperson said water of Sindh’s share had been blocked by the federal government and Punjab due to which the lands of Badin, Thatta, Umerkot, Jamshoro, Gharo, and other areas in Sindh had become barren and crops standing on millions of acres were being sacrificed to the “unjust” policies of the federal government.

Mr Wahab said it would not be wrong to call Mr Chaudhry the ‘biggest turncoat’ (Lota-i-Azam). “He has not spared any party of the country which he has not represented for the sake of money. He is trying hard to beat Asad Umar and Firdous Ashiq Awan as he keeps spewing poison against Sindh.”

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2021

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