• Form joint committee to approach Sindh govt
• Freezing of development funds only in one province termed discriminatory
• Sukkur mayor vows to approach SHC, SC if restrictions not removed
KARACHI: Terming the ban imposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan on initiating new development schemes only in Sindh ‘discriminatory’, elected mayors and heads of over two dozen district councils and municipal committees across Sindh formed a joint committee on Sunday and demanded that the poll supervisory body be immediately lifted the ban.
The demand was made by Sukkur Mayor Barrister Arsalan Islam Shaikh at a media briefing held here at a local hotel after the meeting of the mayors, chairmen and vice chairmen of district councils and town committees belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party.
The meeting discussed the implications of the ECP’s decision to freeze development funds even without announcing the schedule of next general elections.
Barrister Shaikh said that the meeting decided to form a joint committee comprising mayors of Sukkur, Hyderabad, Shaheed Benazirabad and Mirpurkhas, deputy mayor of Karachi and chairman and vice chairman of over two dozen district councils and municipal committees.
He said that the local government representatives of Sukkur, Khairpur, Larkana, Shikarpur, Ghotki, Naushahro Feroze, Jacobabad, Shaheed Benazirabad, Kashmore and mayors and district council chairmen from Hyderabad, Badin, Dadu, Matiari, Jamshoro, Mirpurkhas, Kambar Shahdadkot, Sanghar, Tando Allahyar, Tharpakar, Thatta, Karachi and seven other districts participated in the meeting.
He said that the infrastructure, including roads and schools, had been badly damaged in the last year’s floods and needed immediate repair, upgrade and construction.
He said that the ECP’s restriction on the completion of approved schemes was beyond any comprehension.
The Sukkur mayor said that the provincial budget was approved in June and the ban was imposed on the ongoing schemes after Aug 15.
He said that at least three months were required in the tender process itself. “Things are not clear and there is a lot of ambiguity because there is no ban on the approved foreign-funded schemes,” he said.
Barrister Shaikh said that if the general election was held in February, then the process of development works would have to be started in March.
“Even if all the procedures are completed on time, it will take at least three months and the funds will be lapsed due to the budget of the next financial year in June,” he added.
He said that freezing of development funds was not a constitutional requirement as it was Election Commission’s discretion.
Speaking on the occasion, Larkana District Council chairman Aijaz Leghari said that work on development schemes in Punjab was still going on but the ECP had frozen development funds in Sindh.
The Sukkur mayor said that the joint committee meeting had agreed to approach the ECP as well as the provincial and federal governments for lifting of the ban.
He said that the committee would move the Sindh High Court and Supreme Court in case the ECP did not lift ban on the execution of the development funds in the province.
He said that the meeting also decided to approach federal and provincial governments as well as the judiciary to strengthen the local government in the province and empower elected representatives.
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2023