HYDERABAD, Oct 5: Awami Tehrik president Ayaz Latif Palijo has said activists of his party will block all highways in Sindh on Oct 14 to lodge a strong protest against adoption of the Sindh People’s Local Government Act by the Sindh Assembly and killings of four activists of nationalist parties by police during ongoing agitation against the LG law.

Mr Palijo said at a news conference at the press club here on Friday that his party supported all public meetings to be held by the Sindh Bachayo Committee on Oct 10, 12 and 19.

“I appeal to all nationalists and opposition parties having members in the Sindh Assembly to launch a ‘court arrest’ movement and bring a long march of one million people to the Sindh Assembly building and turn it into Tahrir Square,” he said.

“We had proposed in the Oct 3 meeting of the SBC in Karachi a long march from Kashmore to Karachi or from Mirpurkhas to Karachi or a ‘court arrest’ movement but the meeting could not reach a consensus on the proposal,” he said.

People were agitating against the bill and expecting political parties to play an effective role by launching a decisive struggle, he said.

He rejected the claim made by former chairman of the National Reconstruction Bureau Danyal Aziz in a TV talk show that police powers had not been delegated to the mayor. He alleged that Mr Aziz and the PPP were telling people lies about the LG law and said Clause 22 of Schedule-A of the law could easily give the lie to the claim.

Likewise, he said, powers under Sections 109, 133, 143, 144 and 145 of the criminal procedure code and 31-A and 34-A of Police Act 1861 would be exercised by the mayor who would also be empowered to exercise these powers to control land-grabbing and remove encroachment.

“The mayor can impose Section 144 of the CrPC to restrain protesters from holding peaceful protests,” he said.

Mr Palijo criticised Sindh Assembly speaker Nisar Khuhro’s statement that nationalists were finding faults with the bill without even reading it.

“I challenge the chief minister to sit with me and prove that I haven’t read the document,” he said.

He said that departments of inland fisheries, lands of the Karachi Development Authority and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and primary education had also been placed under the authority of the mayor.

“Handing over control of primary education to the mayor means closure of Sindhi-medium schools in Karachi and Hyderabad,” he said.

With inland fisheries department under the mayor, he would have control over all water bodies or lakes to the exclusion of fishermen.

“They will actually be deprived of it,” he said and asked “whether or not such powers have been given to the Dadu or Tharparkar local government.”

He said that office of deputy commissioner had been retained but a new office of chief officer had been created. “DCs’ role will be similar to that of President Fazal Illahi Chaudhry’s under the Z.A. Bhutto government,” he said.

According to Section 5 of chapter-II, metropolitan corporations have the power to create their own resources and use them. “But one must keep in mind that resources of Karachi do not belong to a particular community or a group,” he said.

He said that the PPP government which did not share the draft of the law even with their partners who had now joined the opposition how could it have share it with nationalists.

The PPP first opposed graduation as a precondition for contesting polls under the Musharraf regime but later plunged into elections headlong while the Awami Tehreek rejected all elections under the military regime, he said.

He said that when Babar Awan and Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad imposed a dual local government system in August 2011 in the dark of the night, people reacted strongly, forcing the government to take it back. But the same law had now been adopted by the assembly, he said.

“Powers to collect tax and post police officers in 18 towns have also been given to the mayor, which indicates preparations are being made for setting the stage for a new province and a country,” he said.

The manner in which Ayub Khan and Ayub Khuhro had imposed One Unit, the remnants of the Ayub, Yahya and Musharraf governments had thrust the dual local government system on the province, said Mr Palijo.

“Sindh will never forget the anti-Sindh role played by Qaim Ali Shah, Nisar Khuhro, Ayaz Soomro, Pir Mazhar, Sharjil Inam, Agha Siraj, Murad Ali Shah, Zahid Bhurgari, Maula Bux Chandio, Shazia Mari, Naveed Qamar, Khurshid Shah and President Asif Ali Zardari,” he said.

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