KARACHI: Strained relations between the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led federal government and Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government were dealt another blow when a key member of the federal cabinet on Sunday accused the provincial administration of deceiving people and vowed to launch a campaign against the recently passed Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2021.
The announcement was made by federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, who also declared that the Centre couldn’t abandon the people of Sindh.
He said: “This bill [Sindh Local Government Bill] doesn’t give powers to the local government of Karachi or any other city in the province. It has been floated to create a fake local government system. We reject this bill and now it’s time that we launch a campaign for the rights of Karachi and people of Sindh.”
“The people of Sindh have been deceived again,” the federal minister said while addressing a workers’ convention of his party in North Nazimabad area.
He referred to a petition filed by PTI in the Supreme Court for a system having effective, powerful and resourceful local bodies in the country and ‘appealed’ to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed to take it up on an urgent basis.
“The overall (governance) system in Sindh isn’t based on justice. We have to make people of Sindh more powerful under the defined laws. Here in Karachi, the mayor isn’t supposed to run health and education system of the city. This is not fair and we can’t accept it,” asserted the federal minister.
Only last week, the ruling party in Sindh got approved an amended local government bill that takes away functions of education and health care from municipal bodies and does away with open ballot for the election of mayors, deputy mayors amid opposition’s absence and based on PPP’s numeric majority in the Sindh Assembly.
The new bill gives so much control to the provincial government over municipal organisations that it can effectively pull back their reins with just a notification without going through the cumbersome process of legislation.
However, a strong reaction has come from the Centre, creating new challenges for the PPP-led Sindh government.
“For Islamabad, we have brought a local bodies’ system that empowers the mayor for every single municipal, health and educational job in the capital,” said Mr Umar.
“Here in Karachi we see the local bodies’ representatives cannot even take up the matter of water supply, sanitation and health. I say to my fellow members in Karachi that it’s a grave injustice with the city and they should stand against it with an effective campaign.”
He also recalled that a number of projects had been launched in Karachi and other parts of Sindh by the federal government, accusing the PPP government of creating hurdles in execution and completion of those schemes for political gains.
“The people of Karachi are suffering from injustice. They don’t ask for alms. They deserve better life, and strong and powerful local government system,” he added.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2021