KARACHI: Without bringing up its demand for a new province to be carved out from Sindh, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have agreed on the need for creation of more administrative units and to hold a population census as soon as possible.

The decision of the MQM-P to side with the combined opposition and ditch Prime Minister Imran Khan seems to have had a positive effect on its relations with the PML-N. Shehbaz Sharif not only agreed to recognise the party as a “major stakeholder and representative” of urban Sindh, but also to consult it on “major political, administrative and economic decisions, affecting urban Sindh”. Another clause pertains to the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act. Here the two parties agreed that the “government should take back all laws which are against freedom of expression, especially PECA amendments”.

A document titled “Charter of Rights for people of urban Sindh” was signed by PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal and MQM’s Amir Khan, while Khawaja Saad Rafiq of PML-N and Kanwar Naveed Jameel of MQM signed as witnesses.

The MQM-P has been demanding creation of a province for people of urban Sindh since long. However, its demand had sparked widespread condemnation from Sindhi nationalists while Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had earlier made it clear that this demand would never be met.

“Need for new administrative units all over Pakistan is recognised and a timeline to create new administrative units in consultation with all stakeholders, including the MQM(P), shall be agreed upon,” stated clause 17 of the charter. It promised to recognise each other’s mandate.

The 27-point charter of rights covers MQM-P’s long-standing demands like reopening of its sealed offices, recovery of missing persons, quashment of false FIRs against party leaders and workers, increased share for urban Sindh in federal government jobs, implementation of previous development packages including completion of K-IV water supply scheme and Karachi Circular Railway, etc.

However, the party managed to convince the PML-N to continue with a PTI government plan to conduct the next national census as per the schedule given by the Imran Khan-led government.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2022

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