The ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is still indecisive on convening the next Sindh Assembly session as the issue of local government system has not been resolved yet, according to sources close to the PPP circles. The Sindh government had earlier decided to convene the assembly session by October 20 as demanded by its major coalition partner Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for giving legal cover to the restoration of Sindh Local Government Ordinance (SGLO)-2001 in the province through an ordinance promulgated by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad. However, the PPP postponed the plan after strong reaction within the party ranks and other coalition partners, especially Pir Pagara-led Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F).
A number of PPP lawmakers had publicly opposed the local government bill planned by the government to be brought in the Sindh Assembly session for converting the governor’s ordinance into legislation. PPP’s former Sindh home minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza had also launched a campaign against the government’s plan.
Meanwhile, the MQM wants to convene the legislative assembly session before November 6, as the ordinance would lapse on that day. Formal legislation by the House is necessary before the ordinance’s expiry because no ordinance can be extended or promulgated again since the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
It is expected that the PPP would face political problems in its stronghold of Sindh if the SGLO-2001 is converted into a law. Besides PPP’s own lawmakers and workers, the PML-F is also piling on pressure on the ruling party over the issue.
Already unhappy with the PPP on the allotment and withdrawal of ministries to its leaders, the PML-F has reiterated its stance that it will oppose any such legislation brought forward by the government in the next legislative session.
According to the sources, the party’s lawmakers, including some ministers, have been unable to defend their party’s decision of revoking the commissionerate system and restoring the 2001’s local government system in the province. Feeling an air of opposition in the province over the issue, around a dozen PPP MPAs had also publicly supported Mirza’s stance against the proposed legislation.
With Mirza’s support increasing within PPP ranks, the ruling party is faced with a difficult situation and this was the reason that Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah – also the PPP provincial president – had convened the party’s Sindh council meeting recently.