Opposition rejects talks offer until withdrawal of controversial Sindh LG bill

Published December 7, 2021
Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh addresses PTI worker on Sindh Culture Day on Sunday. — APP
Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh addresses PTI worker on Sindh Culture Day on Sunday. — APP

• PTI, MQM-P, GDA warn of protest movement
• JI, ANP invited to Muttahida’s MPC on 11th
• Stakeholders’ conference by PTI on 12th

KARACHI: The joint opposition in the Sindh Assembly on Monday ruled out any possibility of talks with the provincial government before the withdrawal of the controversial Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2021, warning the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party that it would face a strong reaction from all political stakeholders who were planning a protest movement against the ‘dictatorial law’.

The opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) held a press conference at the Sindh Assembly and came up with a joint and consensus strategy about their future course of action against the controversial LG bill, saying they were convinced that in the presence of such a law the upcoming LG elections would become irrelevant for every democratic party.

“It’s not possible until they [PPP government] withdraw this [Sindh Local Government Amendment] Bill,” said Leader of the Opposition Haleem Adil Sheikh of the PTI in response to a question about the possibility of talks between the two sides over the controversial bill.

“The government has extended an offer for dialogue, but the opposition parties consider it meaningless as we should have been consulted before tabling the bill in the assembly. All opposition parties agree that under this black law, local governments have been deprived of powers and made subservient to the CM,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, MQM-P leader Muhammad Hussain said that there was a time when the provincial government in Sindh was of a different party and local government set-up was run by another party. But even then, no one ever tried to bend or amend the law to deprive the local governments of their functions as they gave space to each other despite serious ideological differences, he added.

“But the PPP government has set a new tradition,” he said. “It has conceded defeat even before the elections and in a pre-emptive move has encroached upon every single power of the local government under this black law. MQM-Pakistan rejects this law aimed at corruption and usurping of peoples’ rights. We stand by with the joint opposition.”

Barrister Hasnain Mirza of the GDA observed that the bill was approved in haste while bulldozing assembly’s rules and from the day one it was clear that the PPP wanted to exclude the opposition from legislation process.

“The move, which itself is illegal and unconstitutional, cannot be recognised for any law,” he said. “The process was not followed and the rules of business were defied. A question on the effectiveness of the bill is another thing and violating Constitution is another. It’s an irony that the PPP passed the bill illegally and now want it to become law.”

The MQM-P has sped up its campaign for its Dec 11 multiparty conference extending invitation to parties across the country. On Monday senior leaders of the party visited the Karachi headquarters of the Jamaat-i-Islami, met its leaders and invited them to their event.

An MQM-P delegation, led by Kanwar Naveed Jameel, met JI’s city chief Hafiz Naeem Naeemur Rahman and agreed on a consensus strategy against the new LG bill in the larger interest of Sindh and its people.

Another MQM-P delegation visited the Bacha Khan Markaz of the Awami National Party and met its Sindh president Shahi Syed. The two sides agreed that the recently passed bill had failed to meet the requirements of an effective municipal system and it was designed to strengthen the elite class of the society.

Also on Monday, the MQM-P organised a protest demonstration in Korangi district against the new LG bill in which a large number of people participated.

PTI gears up campaign

The PTI is also holding an All Stakeholders Conference on Dec 12 for which it has been extending invitation to politicians, businessmen, journalists, etc.

The opposition leader said that the PTI was going to launch a movement against the “black law” and on Tuesday (today) it would stage rallies in three different Sindh districts to mobilise the masses and resist against the illegal bill on all available forums.

PTI’s Karachi chapter president MPA Khurram Sher Zaman met the Association of Builders and Developers and office-bearers of the Karachi Press Club and invited them to his party’s moot.

Abad chairman Mohsin Shaikhani told Mr Sher Zaman the the builders had stopped all kinds of construction activities in Karachi for the past 10 days and he had contacted the prime minister, chief minister and governor to pass a law for the protection of the construction industry.

He hoped that the federal government would ask the Sindh governor to sign the Construction Regularisation Ordinance to protect the construction industry.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2021

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