Terming it a ‘day of rejoice’ for the people, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Jamaat-e-Islami on Tuesday hailed the Supreme Court’s verdict directing the Sindh government to devolve financial, administrative and political powers to local governments as enshrined under the constitution, and said the apex court’s definition of Article 140-A of the constitution in detail was “the victory of 98 per cent population of the country”.
After the provincial assembly passed the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA) 2013 amid fierce objections from the then MQM, the party had challenged it in the Supreme Court in October 2013.
In December, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party had passed some amendments to the original draft amid severe opposition from the MQM-P, the PTI and the Grand Democratic Alliance.
MQM-P ‘fulfils its promise’
Addressing a press conference at the party’s headquarters, MQM-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said the party congratulated the people of urban and rural Sindh on the apex court’s landmark verdict.
“The MQM-P has supported the 18th amendment in the spirit of devolving powers from the power elites to the people on the street,” he said. Siddiqui said the apex court’s decision on the MQM-P’s petition was a gift of the next mayor of the city, irrespective of the fact whichever party he was affiliated with. “The MQM-P has given them the deserving required power through its petition.”
“The apex court’s decision has also encouraged the Sindhi people to get their hands on the necks of corrupt and corrupt government and feudal lords,” he said. Through the MQM-P petition, all local bodies of the province, whether they were in Karachi, Hyderabad, Larkana or any other city, had been empowered, Siddiqui remarked. “The MQM-P has fulfilled our promise and the judiciary has also fulfilled its constitutional obligation,” he said. “Now it is time for the ruling PPP to not stand against the court’s decision.”
Senator Faisal Subzwari of the MQM-P said that after a thorough study of the decision, it could be concluded that in accordance with the spirit of Article 140-A of the constitution, the powers were bound to be transferred to the district, tehsil, town and union council levels.
“The Karachi Development Authority, Lyari Development Authority, Malir Development Authority, water board, master plan and building control institutions across the province, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Larkana and Sukkur, will now be headed by local government representatives.”
PTI expects empowered LGs
Welcoming the apex court’s verdict, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders said it would “end absolute control of the Sindh government over the local government system” and “pave the way for the creation of an empowered third tier of government in the province.”
Haleem Adil Sheikh, the opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly, said the entire SLGA was in contradiction to Article 140-A of the Constitution of Pakistan. He also said that a PTI petition on the SLGA 2013 was also pending in the apex court.
“We hope that the Sindh government will mend their ways as now they have understood why people and political parties of Sindh were protesting against the law,” he said. “The PTI from the first day was opposing sections 74 and 75 of the act that was nullified by the apex court.”
Sheikh said the intention of the government had been exposed that it did not want to empower the local governments and that was why the CM had announced a review petition would be filed without going through the decision of the court.
Criticising the CM’s for his statement, Sheikh said Murad Ali Shah should have welcomed the apex court’s judgment.
“As many as 21 sections of the SLGA 2013 were contradictory to the constitution of the country and the detailed decision in the case would expose them as well,” he said and vowed that the PTI would continue the struggle for the repeal of the disputed local government law.
Separately, PTI Sindh President and Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Ali Zaidi hailed the apex court’s verdict and said the people of Sindh wanted the revival of an empowered local government.
He said the transfer of powers to grassroots level was a priority of the PTI. “The Supreme Court verdict has exposed the mala fide intention of the Zardari mafia.”
JI hails verdict
Welcoming the apex court’s verdict, the Jamaat-e-Islami said that the party had been also demanding the same powers for the local governments as enshrined in Article 140-A of the constitution.
“The Supreme Court has represented the true aspirations of the masses and affirmed the prolonged struggle of the JI for the rights of the masses,” said JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman. He said the JI’s struggle for the rights of the city and the citizens would continue. “The JI’s charter of demands includes a chapter in the constitution to specify the rights and responsibilities of the local government set-up.”
Veteran politician Dr Farooq Sattar also hailed the apex court’s decision and said that it was the victory of the people of the entire country.
“The mayors across the province must have financial management powers, and the local government powers should be devolved to the neighborhood level,” said Sattar, who heads his own faction of the MQM-P.
He said the people needed an empowered mayor, not an incompetent and toothless one. All provinces had been given their share through the National Finance Commission (NFC), but all provinces, including Sindh, were not giving funds to the cities by implementing the Provincial Financial Commission.
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