Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pakistan Happenings...Of Local Government Elections,New Alliances & Karachi.

As the Pakistan Peoples Party(PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement(MQM) reach accord for a new Local government ordinance, the other political parties like the Awami National Party(ANP),Muslim League ,Functional  (ML-F) which are coalition partners of the PPP government in Sindh are opposing this ordinance.The local government has been successful in Karachi & Hyderabad, two cities governed by the MQM in 2001 till 2009 through the 2001 Local Bodies Act . As described in the editorial of Business Recorder today,All cities need local governments.  The personnel and infrastructure of this tier of government has to be institutionalized.The provincial government officials are transferred after a period and the local body staff has to be deployed on permanent basis with a service structure. A big megapolis like Karachi  needs a permanent local government structure. For that matter cities like Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana also need well trained, well entrenched local government staff which cater to the needs of these cities.
The politics of opposition are based on mistrust and lack of confidence amongst the various coalition partners in Sindh.The background of these political tensions is ethnicity. Sindh political landscape has a very varied expression of ethnicity. The main ethnic groups are Sindhi speaking (Sindhi, Brahui, Balochi speaking communities),Urdu speaking,Pushto speaking,Hindko, Punjabi, Balochi,Gilgiti &Seraiki speaking.Karachi and Hyderabad have a large population of Urdu speaking people. Generally the MQM wins a large mandate from these two cities. During 2000 and 2008, it successfully ran these two large cities with lots of roads & infrastructure development.It bases the strength of this development for favor of the local government (as envisaged in 2001 ordinance).There have been various problems in the implementation of this ordinance and practical problems were highlighted and discussed in many conferences during this period.The Sindhi speaking population which gives its mandate to the PPP largely has not availed of this ordinance and wanted the 1979 Local bodies Act to be implemented. This was made anordinance ironically during the Zia ul Haq regime but was initially the Peoples Local Bodies Act as drafted during the Bhutto government in 1976.It was redesigned with small changes to suit the dictator's whims and put in place.The present PPP wanted this to be implemented with its changes.The other coalition partners agreed on this except the MQM which fearing its disenfranchisement & lessening of its power wanted the 2001 ordinance to be retained.
The new politics of Sindh need taking all allies on board and having a reconciliatory stance with stakeholders as too much water has passed under the bridge and Sindh needs massive and urgent  development both in its urban and rural areas. The successful interaction in which the city Nazim got the nullahs and drains of Karachi cleaned when rains wrecked havoc and submerged even the posh areas of Karachi like Defence and Clifton needs to be revitalized. Since the collapse of the local government and its replacement by administrators by the PPP Sindh government all the good work of garbage and drain cleaning has been undone. The encroachments by the rich and powerful over drains and natural waterways in Karachi which the city Nazim so successfully undid with political clout is slowly making its way back again.The staff of the city government of Karachi has not been paid their salaries for many months so all the drains and main waterways inside the city are filled with garbage. The disposal of solid waste has also taken a back bench. This seems like a deliberate attempt to undermine the well bieng of Karachi civic bodies and indirectly affect the MQM votebank but it , infact raise eyebrows on PPP Sindh governments' ability to govern large cities like Karachi .The lack of civic services and their mismanagement speaks volumes on this party's inability to do anything for their own inner cities where they have a large mandate. The sense of urgency to tackle this issue has been cleverly sensed by president Asif Ali Zardari, who being the co- chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party has brought about a reconciliatory local government ordinance.
Image(DAWN.COM) shows the drains are blocked causing havoc in recent rains.
 The issues where Hyderabad was divided into areas , which the PPP says was to lessen its hold over the votebank, has also been a bone of contention for the PPP and MQM.
But what about the other cities like Nawabshah, Larkana, Jacobabad where the city problems are massive with bad roads, bad & broken sewerage etc. Here there is the mandate is of PPP. These cities also need a dedicated , honest local government for their massive and urgent development.
The new ordinance will not only benefit the largely Urdu speaking MQM supporters but also all the other ethnic groups residing in Sindh. The roads & bridges network will help the Pathan, Punjabi traders and transporters with their businesses. The development and housing , building activity will help the Punjabi, Sindhi,Pathan and Seraiki speaking people.There is a need for all the ethnic groups to develop a tolerance towards each other based on the fact that all are here to stay permanently for their economic gains. The racism and hatred based on primitive instincts has to be abandoned for a new beginning.

The politics of Sindh are also showing a new yawning activity of Sindhi nationalists. People like Mumtaz Ali Bhutto who uptil now called Mr Nawaz Sharif (PML-N) a face of Punjab domination have merged his party into this larger party.All other Sindhi nationalists have also taken a reconciliatory stance with the largely Punjabi party.Many say that this has been done on the behest of the establishment.It seems that in Sindh, the nationalists are leaving no stone un-turned to grab power away from PPP and appear on the scene even as a nuisance value.

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