KARACHI, Sept 24: Terming the Sindh People’s Local Government Ordinance a move aimed at dividing Sindh, both factions of the Pakistan Muslim League (Functional and the Quaid-i-Azam) and the Awami National Party on Monday said they had quit the coalition government over the issue, but speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said he had received no application for the allotment of opposition benches in the Sindh Assembly.

These views emerged from speeches at a press conference held at the residence of Sardar Ghous Bakhsh Mahar in the Defence Housing Authority, a press release issued by the ANP and a media talk of speaker Khuhro in the provincial assembly.

PML-F Sindh general secretary Imtiaz Ahmad Shaikh and PML-Q Parliamentary Party leader in the Sindh Assembly Shahryar Mahar spoke at the press conference which was also attended by PML-F leaders Nusrat Sehar Abbasi, Nadeem Mirza and NPP leader Naeem-ur-Rehman.

Challenging local government minister Agha Siraj Durrani to debate the issue on TV channels or at any other forum, Mr Shaikh said he would prove that the ordinance was a formula to divide Sindh and it was more dangerous than the 2001 district governments system.

He said he was surprised over Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah’s remarks that the governor had not received the resignation notes of the ministers and advisers. He waved the paper on which the resignations from the ministers and advisers belonging to the PML-F and PML-Q and others had purportedly been received by a staff officer of the Chief Minister’s House the very next day of the promulgation of the SPLGO.

The PML leader said the chief minister could forward the resignation letters to the governor whenever he wanted to fulfil the formality, but they had resigned their official positions.

Mr Shaikh said the assertion of the chief minister that the ordinance was in the interest of the people of Sindh was not correct. Had it been so, he said, the 18 districts of the province would not have been excluded from the system that gave special rights to the other five districts. He said only the chief minister, information minister Sharjeel Memon and the local government minister were supporting the ordinance in TV programmes. Most PPP lawmakers, he claimed, were against the ordinance and the government would not be able to get the bill passed through the assembly.

In reply to a question, he said that they had not yet formally applied for the allocation of opposition benches to them as the last time they had submitted their request for the opposition benches the speaker had told them that their resignations had not yet been notified. But if this time the speaker was in a hurry, they would submit an application for the opposition benches in two or three days.

He endorsed a call of the Sindh Bachayo Committee for blocking the highways on Sept 26 over the SPLGO issue.

Sharyar Mahar said that mayors were given more powers than the district governments and it was a conspiracy to divide Sindh.

Khuhro’s explanation Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said he had not yet received a request from any parliamentary group of lawmakers for the allotment of seats on the opposition benches.Talking to media persons in his Sindh Assembly chamber, he urged the government coalition partners opposing the SPLGO to hold negotiations with the government over their objections to the new law, which could be discussed in details when the ordinance was tabled in the assembly in the form of a bill.

ANP stance The Awami National Party said it opposed the SPLGO and its minister had quit his post over the issue.

In a statement issued from the Mardan House, ANP Sindh chief Senator Shahi Syed said the ANP would continue to oppose Karachi’s division on the pretext of a new local government system. He rejected claims that ANP leaders had been consulted before the promulgation of the SPLGO.