Abrar Saeed       

ISLAMABAD - The key coalition partners in Sindh Government - Pakistan People’s Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement - are caught in catch-22 situation on the controversial Local Bodies Ordinance issued by Governor Sindh a few days back, as reaction against the ordinance is beyond the expectations of both these parties.    

Background interviews and discussion with senior Pakistan People’s Party leaders revealed that there was very strong opposition on the proposed ordinance within the party and a sizeable majority within the PPP Sindh chapter had conveyed their reservations on the issue to the party leadership with the forewarning that if the ordinance would be laid in the Sindh Assembly for legislation they would oppose it.    

The other coalition partners of the PPP in Sindh Government - Awami National Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) - came out with outright rejection of the ordinance under the nomenclature of Sindh People’s Local Government Ordinance 2012 and also quit the coalition and their MPs had already extended the request to Speaker Sindh Assembly for allotment of seats on opposition benches. Sources in the PPP informed that even some of the key aides of President Zardari, including Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Shah, Federal Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar and former law minister Moulla Bux Chandio have serious reservations over the proposed local bodies ordinance but were not speaking against the ordinance publicly in line with the party discipline.   

Sources said that these leaders have conveyed their concern to the party leadership and also conveyed the grievances and annoyance of the Sindh Chapter of the party to President Asif Ali Zardari, who did not want to lose the support of MQM at this critical juncture. Sources in know of the situation informed TheNation that the junior coalition partners in Sindh Government complained that they were not kept in the loop while formulation of the proposed Local Bodies ordinance by their senior coalition partners - PPP and MQM - so how they could support an ordinance which would virtually bifurcate the province in two different administrative set-ups and would help establish hegemony of certain parties in certain areas.

A source in ANP said that the concept of giving status of Metropolitan Corporations in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas, Sukkur and Larkana divisions would benefit the two major political parties while restoration of 18 towns in Karachi would also benefit a particular political party.

These sources further said that if this unjust and unrealistic system of governance at grass-root level was forced on them they would not accept it and would launch protest movement against it along with other people protesting this injustice to the people of Sindh.

To a question sources in ANP said that the party leadership was also contemplating partying ways with PPP at Federal level as well.

The sources in PPP said that in the given situation it would extremely difficult for the PPP to bring the ordinance for debate in the Sindh Assembly and to get it passed despite having thumping majority in the house clubbed with MQM, as majority of their own members in the house would unlikely extend support to it.

These sources further said that party Co-Chairman President Asif Ali Zardari has tasked some of his loyalists to evolve consensus on the proposed Sindh Peoples Local Government Ordinance 2012, as they have ample time for the job as the life of an ordinance is 90 days and it could also be re-issued for one time in the light of the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

On the other hand MQM wanted to get the ordinance passed from the Sindh Assembly to convert into a piece of legislation but PPP was in no mood to table it in the house before evolving consensus on it within the party and among the coalition partners.