KARACHI: Just a day after expressing inability to hold the local government elections in Sindh, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Tuesday believed that the devolution of powers in Karachi was not that serious an issue for the people as there were much bigger challenges that needed to be addressed first.
The thought was shared by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who visited parts of the metropolis, got briefing from officials on different development projects and gave directions for early completion of the Sindh government-funded schemes.
“I believe that there are so many other problems for the people of Karachi and devolution of powers is not the number one priority for them,” he told reporters at the last leg of his hour-long visit to the city.
He was asked about the fate of local governments, devolution of powers in Sindh and possible schedule of the LG elections.
The PPP chief says LG elections will be held in Sindh after census issue is resolved
Links LG polls with census issue
“They [people of Karachi] have many other issues and we want to bring solution to their every problem. We feel proud the local government system emerges as the best one in Pakistan. Let me tell you that once this census issue and legislation about the local government is done, we would be ready to go into the polls,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari.
Only on Monday, the Sindh government continued to drag its feet on the local government elections about a year after the expiry of the term of the elected local governments.
During a meeting of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, Sindh Chief Secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah had informed the ECP that the provincial government could not hold the LG elections as it had reservations over the 2017 census results and it wanted to make changes in Sindh Local Government Act which could take around six months.
ECP secretary Umar Hameed Khan had said that the term of LGs in Sindh had expired on August 30, 2020 and as per the Constitution, the ECP must hold polls within 120 days after the expiry of the term.
The PPP chairman repeated almost the same reasons behind the delay. However, he kept his hopes high for winning the LG polls whenever they were held and ruled out any chances for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan.
“The people of Karachi have tested the PTI and they also tested the MQM,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari. “They are poised to trust and give a chance to the PPP this time because they are seeing how our government is making efforts, putting hundred per cent and giving every possible assistance for the development of this city and its people.”
Earlier, the PPP chairman along with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Karachi Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab visited different parts of the city including Hasan Square, Gharibabad, Liaquatabad, Choona Depot, Lasbela, Patel Para, Empress Market, PECHS, Kidney Hill Park, Urban Forest in Clifton, etc.
The PPP chairman also touched upon national issues and welcomed the revival of activities by the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) from which his party parted ways after differences.
“It’s a good thing that the PDM is planning a rally in Karachi,” he said when asked to comment on the recent plans of the PDM. “We are also struggling against this undemocratic and selected government and we welcome the PDM’s move.”
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2021