Who is responsible for the mess in Sindh? The two main political parties, MQM and PPP, are busy painting each other as obstacles to progress and good governance on the one hand, and on the other, trying to woo one another. However, neither party has an answer to the above question, which is puzzling since both have been in government at one time or the other for the past few decades.

PPP boasts a long list of unfulfilled promises – mostly worn-out variations on Roti, Kapra aur Makan celebrated at various jalsas. It holds absolute majority in parliament, a prerequisite to getting things done. But the energies of PPP minsters and lawmakers are dedicated to devising and implementing plans to syphon money away from state resources. They are accused of earning commission and kickbacks on government contracts; sell government jobs to the highest bidder; appoint government functionaries for fat bribes and party affiliations rather than competency; and maintain personal privileges at state expense.

And MQM? The party of immigrants garnered a huge vote bank at inception, having promised to abolish the quota system and to improve its supporters’ quality of life. It has not delivered. The quota system is flourishing while MQM has moved on to greener pastures. Its mandate completely wasted. They enjoyed control over the levers of power and state resources intermittently for decades starting from Jam Sadiq’s government in the 1990s until very recently in the PPP led Sindh Government. The ministries they control have shown no remarkable improvement; the saga of commissions on contracts, job sales and postings continues to follow them. MQM’s voters not only voted for them but also supported them by giving billions of rupees annually by way of ‘Fitrana’, ‘Zakat’ and hide donations on Eid-ul-Fitar, Eid-ul-Adha and other public collections. However, there are precious few charitable projects to show for the billions the party has collected over decades. The money that was spent was on low cost projects. If correctly channelized through KKF, the billions collected over decades could have helped develop world class hospitals and educational institutions to match standards laid down by the Aga Khan University Hospital or LUMS University. People of Karachi and other areas would have seen their donations used for sustainable development and they would have directly benefited from KKF funded but professionally managed charitable institutions. MQM however, did not address this lack of commitment to public welfare.

A survey conducted by the Pakistani newspaper Herald in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute indicates that Sindh is losing the development race against other provinces. It is behind both in governance and service delivery; and surprisingly, respondents believe corruption has increased. If the poor haris in Larkana or Khairpur have no access to health and educational facilities their lives are as miserable as labourers living in katchi abadis of Karachi and Hyderabad who also do not have access to these basic amenities. To put it mildly, progress report on MQM and PPP is less than impressive. Both parties undertake politics of yesteryears by painting themselves as protectors of down trodden Sindhis. The primary consequence has been a deepening of the urban-rural divide. PPP raised slogans as ‘Protectors of Sindh’ and MQM its counter ultimatum for ‘New Provinces’. But the debate on protecting or dividing Sindh is meaningless if the population is destined to suffer under these two parties.

Bilawal & family are worried their united Sindh policy without a proper alternative of local bodies election, is  making them less of a countrywide party and more like the political arm of Sindhi nationalist parties. A change of PPP’s provincial leadership is in the offing. Murad Ali Shah should be allowed to bring in a new perspective and his own team if Bilawal want PPP to survive in Sindh. On the other hand Altaf Hussain & Co is also reviewing MQM’s overall structure. A series of changes have been made to its Rabita Committee and Karachi Tanzeemi committee disbanded. MQM decision makers are of the opinion that its office bearers are extorting money from job seekers, misappropriating huge funds from KKF’s billions and lack the spirit to serve the public. Further reorganization is expected as Rangers investigate the Baldia incident and the presence of known target killers at the party’s head offices.

Rather than embarking on public welfare projects to counter PTI’s popularity in Sindh, both PPP & MQM has chosen to create a victim and siege mentality amongst their voters. In this manner as in the past, they may be able to salvage numerical strength in an urban and rural divided Sindh at the local bodies elections to be held in 2015. However, this will ensure that Sindh remains disunited and both urban and rural Sindhis continue to suffer.