KARACHI: In a major success after days-long exercise, anxious wait by workers and picking every so-called ‘card’ with due care, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) finally succeeded on Wednesday in striking a deal with the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party on almost all of its years-old demands, which would be agreed under a guarantee offered from the leadership of the opposition alliance.
The demands of the MQM-P agreed upon under the deal range from municipal government structure to future power sharing formula and recruitment policy in Sindh to local policing system.
Although the MQM-P rivals and ruling partner Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf saw the agreement as a ‘betrayal’ from the MQM-P, the party in its politics over the past couple of weeks managed to gain ‘maximum’ from the deal that, if implemented in true spirit, could provide the MQM-P a new lease of life to its ‘fast shrinking’ political space after 2018 and may re-energise its workers at grassroots level, observers believe.
Signed by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi on behalf of their parties, the document also carried signatures of Mian Shahbaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Maulana Fazlur Rehman of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Sardar Akhtar Mengal of Balochistan National Party and Khalid Magsi of Balochistan Awami Party as guarantors.
Major demands include reforms in LG system, implementation of job quota and fair recruitment policy
Describing it as a beginning of a ‘long-term partnership’, the parties through the agreement expressed their resolve to honour their commitments.
In the 18-point agreement with the PPP, the MQM-P succeeded in incorporating almost all of its demands regarding reforms in the Sindh local government system which it had been seeking for nearly a decade.
The draft of the agreement released to the media shows two parts of the agreement. In the first part, the MQM-P demands were related to the local government reforms, quota system, recruitment policy and policing system while the second one addresses overall reforms in the governance.
“The parties [PPP-MQM-P] through this covenant pledged to develop a long-term partnership to ensure harmony amongst people; to promote social justice and to secure economic well-being of the people of Sindh, especially of those who are left behind for various reasons,” said the agreement.
The first point the agreement called ‘Charter of Rights’, was directly related with the Sindh local government in which the two sides agreed that the decision of the Supreme Court regarding local governments in a constitutional petition filed by the MQM-P in 2017 would be “implemented in letter and spirit within one month and with mutual agreement”.
The agreement said “the positions in jobs shall be holistically assessed and the deficiency, if any, of those hailing from urban/rural Sindh shall be removed by enhancing the quote for them. Once the parity of 60:40 is achieved, the agreed job quota of 60:40 shall be fully observed”.
The agreement also precisely addressed the issue of fake domiciles and agreed that a joint commission with mutual consultation would be formed to investigate and cancel all those documents in every district of Sindh.
“The commission shall also give recommendations to develop a transparent procedure in this respect,” it added.
The two parties also decided to set up a ‘quota observance’ joint committee comprising legislators from both sides to monitor its effectiveness in recruitment process while agreeing that in appointments of officials from BS-1 to BS-15 the principle of local presentation provided in defined rules shall be strictly followed.
In another major breakthrough, the PPP agreed with the MQM over local policing system which had been a key demand of the MQM for the past many years.
“Local policing shall be introduced to address the issue of lawlessness and street crimes in accordance with law,” said the agreement.
In its second half, the agreement addressed the issues of up-gradation of transport system, completion of safe city project, a women university in Karachi, establishment of a university in Hyderabad, rehabilitation of infrastructure in industrial zones, immediate attention on health and education and a dedicated cottage industrial zone for employment opportunities.
However, the accord is silent on the future of current local government system in Karachi.
Sources said that the two parties had also agreed on an “addendum agreement” which allowed the MQM-P to take over the city administration.
In that case, they said, the incumbent city administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab would resign in line with the party’s commitment.
However, Sindh Information Minister and PPP Karachi division president Saeed Ghani denied any such arrangement as part of the agreement reached between the two parties.
However, he agreed that since both sides had entered into a wide-ranging accord, they would stay in touch and meet regularly to define better working relationship and devise practicality of all the points of the agreement.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2022