The recently promulgated ordinance allowing the federal government to take control of islands in the internal and territorial waters of Pakistan did not catch the attention of many initially. On the surface, the regulation, Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) Ordinance, 2020, is a positive development, as it allows the centre to develop and maintain these islands.

However, the ruling party in Sindh, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) does not think the same. Likewise, nationalist parties and fishers’ communities have also expressed their anger against the move. They think of the ordinance as the centre’s unilateral move to take control of coastal areas of the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. Had the federal government consulted the parliament over the plan, things would have been different today.

But the ruling party in the centre, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has already cultivated a reputation for “ruling through ordinances.” PTI’s reliance on these executive orders to run the state’s affairs is damaging for the supremacy of parliament.

For the most part, the opposition’s difference of opinion on public matters and its criticism of government policies strengthen democracy and are essential for keeping a check on the government. However, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s tweet, where he calls the act of the federal government equivalent of Modi’s action in Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOK) is unfortunate. The opposition does not need to make false equivalencies and faulty parallelism with IIOK to get its point across.

In case the centre relies on ordinances, the opposition will be rightly raising objections over the means and methods the federal government deploys. Additionally, the lack of debate on the development of these cities and the selection of investors and developers will undermine accountability. Therefore, PTI must listen to all the stakeholders; it must consult them and ask for their cooperation. Only through consultation and asking for cooperation, can PTI develop these cities smoothly and without stirring future controversies and fights.