KARACHI: The Sindh government and the Jamaat-i-Islami were found at loggerheads again on Wednesday when the provincial administration of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ruled out the possibility of any major change in the recently passed Sindh Local Government [Amendment] Act (SLGA) 2021 just two days after the PPP promised to amend the law with ‘mutual understanding’ prompting the right-wing opposition party to continue its sit-in that had already completed almost two weeks.
Just less than 72 hours after an exchange of cordial gestures, the two sides were again seen turned up against each other and this time it began when the key minister of the provincial cabinet came up with a categorical viewpoint of the PPP government that it could hold talks only on ‘valid’ proposals by the opposition parties and no one should have any ‘misunderstanding’ that the Sindh Local Government Ordinance (SLGO) 2001, which had ensured an empowered local government, could again see the light of day.
“The revival of the SLGO 2001 is out of the question,” said Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani while addressing a press conference in an aggressive tone.
“No matter if the protest sit-in continues outside the Sindh Assembly building for an indefinite period, there’s no possibility that the municipal system in the province envisaged under the SLGO 2001 introduced by General Pervez Musharraf will be here again,” he categorically said.
Jamaat says no contact was made with Sindh govt for talks; hints at staging sit-in on Sharea Faisal
He said the Sindh government had agreed to revive town municipal administrations in Karachi after amending the SLGA 2013 in line with a consensual demand of all opposition parties.
Despite being a member of the committee set up only on Sunday by the Sindh government to hold talks with the JI, the Sindh information minister addressing the media the first time after the contact between the two sides didn’t show any prospect that could lead to fruitful talks between the two sides.
Instead, he blamed the opposition parties like Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) of ‘conspiring’ to carry out bloodshed in Karachi.
“I advise the MQM and JI against destroying the peace of Karachi,” he said.
“They should not push the city to the brink of bloodshed only for securing their own vested political interests. The Jamaat, like I said earlier, has in fact been following in the MQM’s footsteps only for undue political popularity in Karachi. It raises slogans that Karachi is occupied territory. Who they [JI] are blaming for this? It should not play such dirty politics for vested interests.”
JI readies ‘plan B’
The JI, on the other hand, came up with a strong reaction and made it clear that the sit-in outside the assembly was not going to end any soon.
The party vowed to further expand its protest and hinted at staging a sit-in on Sharea Faisal under its ‘plan B’ to protest against the recent LG law and to demand rights for urban Sindh.
“Three days have already passed but the Sindh government hasn’t responded to or contacted us for talks,” JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rahman told journalists at the sit-in venue.
“But we are not worried. We are cool and calm. We are not here for any political or vested interests, but for the rights of the people of Karachi and this province. This sit-in, we believe, has created a wave of awareness across the province as people of rural areas have started asking for their due rights too. This sit-in is representing 60 million people of Sindh.”
He said the JI had plans to further strengthen its protest and in the next phase the party would be discussing staging sit-in on the main intersection, including Sharea Faisal.
The PPP government was making every move to keep its ‘suppression’ of Karachi intact, but people of the city would no more allow these ‘feudals’ to make the people their ‘salves’.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2022