KARACHI: Political and economic stakeholders of the city expressed their views on the controversial local government law during a session organised by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Wednesday.
Representatives of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), Association of Builders and Developers (Abad), Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and others attended the event held at a local hotel.
MQM-P leader Senator Faisal Subzwari opened the floor by introducing the topic of discussion. “This is not an issue of just the MQM, Karachi or Sindh, it is an issue of every person of the province whose voice is not heard openly making you think that perhaps it only affects the people of Karachi,” he said.
“The main issue here is this that the taxes we pay are not spent on us. We get no facilities in return of our taxes. Since the 18th Amendment, billions have been taken from here in taxes but nothing was done for Karachi in return,” he said.
“Our Constitution says that the federal government, the provincial government and local government are three components of the government. But here the provincial government is not passing on its resources to the local governments,” he said.
Party vows to continue its struggle against controversial local govt law
“Our mayors work in a vacuum without authority, without an resources. How is he supposed to deliver this way? The 2013 local government law was bad enough and the amended law of 2021 has made the local governments toothless. The provincial government is bringing a regressive system. There is a method behind this madness to disown Karachi,” he said.
PSX chairman Salman S. Mehdi said there is a need for a think tank, which can write a white paper and categorically address the specific issues faced by the business community here.
“Pakistan depends on its economy. You don’t do politics with the economy,” he said.
KCCI Vice President Mohammed Hanif Lakhani observed that these days you see many warehouses opening up where factories have closed down.
FPCCI chairman Mian Nasir Hayat Maggo said that Karachi was in ruins even before the LG law came about. “We need more ideas and willingness here,” he said.
Abad chairman Mohsin Shekhani said after seeing construction being stopped for so many already approved projects here, they have been coming to raise their voice from every forum.
“We need to raise our voice about irregularities here. This city gives revenue, it creates jobs...this city gives to everyone. This city deserves importance because it has the potential to give to the entire country,” he said.
PSX managing partner Ahmed Chinoy said that the industry faced with low or no gas issues, water scarcity issues and there was no one to listen to them at the grassroots level. “We can’t always be running to big politicians for resolving our issues,” he said.
Abdul Rehman Naqi and A.Q. Khalil, senior vice president and former president of the KCCI, respectively, also spoke.
Speaking on the occasion, MQM-P convener Khalid Madbool Siddiqui said that in the 50 years that the Pakistan Peoples Party had been in power here all the good things that happened prior to that rolled down the ladder.
“When the MQM was formed in 1984, its young leadership went to all the educated people of this city to make them aware about where Karachi and where Sindh were headed,” he said.
“We had planned a proper mass transit system in our first term in the local government in 1987. Tell me why it didn’t happen? Tell me why our Metro Bus Service, which we came up with in our second time in the local government, failed? We need guarantees. We need guarantees from the federal government that our projects won’t be shelved by the PPP government like it has been happening. Mandates also need the power to do things,” he said.
“Here the MQM wasn’t even informed about the things or reasons for the operations carried out against us,” he said. “The MQM has been against the quota system from the beginning. We are all for merit. But there is no merit in Sindh even today.”
He said that today the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) was holding a sit-in outside the Sindh Assembly after rejecting the Local Government Act.
“We are with the JI on this. But don’t forget that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and JI were with the PPP earlier when this law was passed. It is good that they woke up now at least. They never joined our stand but we, the MQM, are with them today,” he pointed out.
Amir Khan, senior deputy convener of MQM, read out a resolution stating that they had been witnessed to the drop in economy due to the neglect to industry in Sindh for the last half century now.
“It has affected the circumstances of the people of Sindh. The province is in ruin, its people are unhappy. They feel like they have been left out in the cold. First the Local Government Act of 2013 and now its amendment in 2021 will be the straw that will break the camel’s back.
“Therefore, it is time to reject this black law that will make everyone completely dependent and at the mercy of the Sindh government. The PPP set out to steal our powers, our authority in 2013 and now after 2021 it wants whatever little was left. But we want resources equally distributed. Karachi alone earns 70 per cent revenue of the country and 95pc revenue of Sindh.
“We want all the people here to assure that the MQM will not rest until this black law is taken back,” he concluded.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2022