Two major political parties of Karachi on Wednesday held various activities in order to exert pressure on the Sindh government to take back the recently passed ‘controversial’ local government bill.
Amidst the opposition’s absence and based on its numeric majority in the Sindh Assembly, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday passed amendments to the local government law in a bid to take away functions of education and health care from the municipal bodies and replace open ballot for the election of mayors and deputy mayors with secret balloting.
MQM-P to convene APC
Announcing that it would strongly resist the new local government law approved by the Sindh Assembly, leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Wednesday said they would convene an all-parties’ conference on December 11 and hold a demonstration near the Gujjar Nullah today (Thursday).
Addressing the press conference at the party’s headquarters in Bahadurabad, MQM-P Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said Karachi’s residents were asking the state institutions if there was any national consensus to destroy the urban areas of Sindh.
“The PPP has never ruled over the urban areas of Sindh and now the PPP has taken the responsibility of fulfilling the dream of creating Sindh Desh,” the MQM-P convener said. “Why is there a monolingual government in Sindh that is a multilingual province?” he asked.
He stated that the Karachi Institute of Heart Diseases (KIHD) and the Karachi Medical and Dental College (KMDC) had been created with the budget of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) but now they had also been taken away from the municipality through the recently passed bill.
“The courts are only interested in demolishing buildings. We have knocked on every door to tell them that our houses are being demolished, we are being deprived of employment opportunities and admissions, but no one listens to us.”
Appealing to the chief justice of Pakistan, MQM-P deputy convener and former Karachi mayor Wasim Akhtar said that the party’s petition for local government powers had been awaiting for a decision since 2017 in his court. “Karachi residents are waiting for you to decide before you go so that they will always remember you for good.”
“All these atrocities are being committed against the people of Karachi in the name of the 18th Amendment,” Dr Siddiqui said. “Democracy will not be strong till the third tier of government is strong,” he added.
MQM-P leader Kunwar Naveed Jamil said the local governments and mayors were empowered all over the world and even the ports and policing system were under mayors. “But in Sindh, the corrupt PPP government even snatched collection of taxes on the sale of milk from the local government bodies.”
The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) on Wednesday organised protest sit-ins on 11 major arteries of the city against the new local government bill.
The protests marked the commencement of the JI’s campaign against the controversial bill, which, according to the party, aimed at further squeezing the authority and powers of the city government in Karachi.
The sit-ins were held on MA Jinnah Road, Sharea Faisal, North Karachi, Federal B Area, Hyderi Market, Orangi Town, Hassan Square, Old Sabzi Mandi, Korangi and Quaidabad areas. JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman addressed the sit-in outside the KMC head office on MA Jinnah Road and the Star gate on Sharea Faisal. He warned the Sindh government against any ambush on the rights of Karachi, stating that the JI would mobilise the public and resist the bill on all the available forums.
The people of Karachi would not accept any illegal legislation that violated the constitution and undermined the authority of the local government, he maintained.
The JI leader was of the view that the amendment bill hastily passed by the PPP in the Sindh Assembly was totally in violation of the Constitution of Pakistan’s Article 32 and Article 140-A. He added that the bill was a part of a nefarious conspiracy to plunder the resources of Karachi and open the floodgates of loot and chaos.
He announced that the JI would observe Friday, December 3, as Black Day and hundreds of protest demonstrations would be held across Karachi on the day against the newly passed bill. He added that a massive “Save Karachi March” would be held on Sunday, December 12.
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