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The choices: PPP, MQM reasoning on local govt

They have chosen local governments that give them more power

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 5, 2019 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Sep 5, 2019 | Last Updated: 2 years ago

The MQM and Musharraf and later on, the PPP, have all chosen which type of local governments they wanted, depending on what gave them more power and financial control. They have been able to do this because Section 140-A of the Constitution on the topic is rather cryptically open-ended. 

Just two lines spell out how provincial governments should make local governments. Sindh had to set up a local government system and “devolve” or give power down the ladder. Power had to be filtered down politically, administratively and financially to people chosen in local government elections.

The brevity of this constitutional article has left wide open for interpretation and experimentation what the provincial governments could do with the result that when Musharraf (and the MQM) liked it, they reconfigured the entire KMC/CDGK and when the PPP had more power it changed everything according to what it wanted.

If the 2001 Musharraf local government law for all of Pakistan was so popular, or worked so well, argues former local government minister Saeed Ghani of the PPP, where is it today? When its tenure ran out, no one revived it. In fact, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan all dumped it and made their own new laws. He thus argues that this was not just PPP thinking in Sindh. “The day [that law’s] protection was over, all the provincial governments, ended it,” he says.

Saeed Ghani also says that the MQM initially did not like the 2001 Musharraf law but had a change of heart later on. “This very 2001 law they badmouthed and boycotted in 2001,” Ghani says. “Altaf Hussain opposed it in 2001. But it was after 2005 that they decided to stay with it.”

One route that the MQM could have taken was the legal one. If they did not like the laws, they could have challenged them in court. According to Saeed Ghani, they could even propose amendments in the Sindh Assembly.

When I scoff that the PPP would never let those changes see the light of day (well, in my heart at least), he said: “Ok, then the burden would be on us [the PPP] that something good was proposed and we didn’t allow it. At least for the record, they should bring it [to the floor of the house], that they were bringing these fantastic progressive changes to the law.”

When I heard this, and I saw Saeed Ghani’s shug. Well, who stopped them from making changes in the law…

Technically yes, the system does provide for someone to make these maneuvers. And for what it is worth, Mayor Wasim Akhtar  filed a petition in the Supreme Court on July 13, 2017. He has gone for Article 140A.

To read the next article of the series on Local Government, click on the image below

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