KARACHI, Dec 7: While the Muttahida Qaumi Movement is thought to have overcome its initial disdain for the restoration of the commissioner system even to Karachi, a long-delayed consensus among the coalition partners in Sindh on the local government system is not expected anytime soon, it emerged on Wednesday.
The MQM and the Pakistan People’s Party are set to meet on Dec 10 to discuss and finalise a consensus document to be tabled in the Sindh Assembly for legislation.
The MQM was earlier considered to be a staunch opponent of the revival of the commissioner system, but interestingly the same system was envisaged in its draft local government proposal that it recently handed over to the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional.
The MQM and the PPP had recently exchanged their draft proposals on the LG system, but they were unwilling to share any detail with the media.
However, both parties had handed over their respective documents to the PML-F, which is also a partner in the Sindh ruling coalition.
PML-F leader and Chief Minister’s Adviser Imtiaz Shaikh told Dawn that MQM’s Sardar Ahmed had sent him the draft LG proposal “and a meeting between the PML-F and MQM is expected on Thursday”.
He said MQM’s Wasim Aftab had invited him to a formal meeting to discuss the LG proposals and after getting Pir Pagara’s consent, a PML-F team would meet the MQM leaders on Thursday.
Mr Shaikh, who is privy to the MQM and the PPP drafts, said that the MQM document had contained the commissioner system as well as certain features of the Sindh Local Government Ordinance, 2001, while the PPP document appeared to be a copy of the LG system of 1979.
Terming the LG system of 1979 a rollback of devolution of powers, he said the PPP had to identify the functions of the provincial government it wanted to devolve to the local governments and what would be the criteria to form a district.
“I have gone through both the documents [of the PPP and the MQM], there is no meeting point I can see,” said the bureaucrat-turned politician, who had recently made public a ‘functional formula’ to end stalemate over the longstanding issue between the two parties.
He said that things could only be sorted out by having a joint session of all the coalition parties.
However, MQM leader Wasey Jalil was optimistic that the MQM and the PPP would manage to hammer out a mutually acceptable formula in the coming days.
“We partially read the draft of the PPP in our internal meeting held on Wednesday. Now we will meet the PPP team on Dec 10 to discuss both drafts and soon a consensus document will be finalised.”
He refused to share the MQM’s or the PPP’s proposal on the ground that any premature disclosure might complicate things.
No PPP leader who is part of the process to finalise a consensus law on local government was available for comments.