Sindh Local Govt (Amendment) Bill-2010: Sindh PA unanimously passes bill to end local govts term -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Sindh Local Govt (Amendment) Bill-2010: Sindh PA unanimously passes bill to end local govts term

By Imtiaz Ali

Karachi: The long-deliberated Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill-2010 was, after a protracted delay, finally tabled and passed by the Sindh Assembly on Monday.

Passed unanimously, the legislation appoints civil servants as administrators in place of Nazims and promises to hold local bodies’ elections in “120 days” on party basis.

A visibly happy Agha Siraj Durrani, the Minister for Local Government, said while introducing the bill, that, “Today is one of the greatest days in the history of Sindh.” Amidst loud thumping of desks by legislators, he said: “We will make sure to hold polls within 120 days.”

“This is the beginning of the end to the system introduced by the dictator,” declared Minister for Law Muhammad Ayaz Soomro. He said that the local government system introduced in 2001 had encroached upon the rights of the provinces and increased centralization. He disclosed that the new law would likely be introduced within 30 days to hold LB polls.

He said that civil servants from grade 17 to 19 would be appointed as administrators.

“We, the coalition parties, will go for the new law to hold LB polls in 120 days,” said PPP’s parliamentary leader in Sindh Assembly and Senior Minister Pir Mazharul Haq. He added that the real credit goes to slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto who introduced the policy of reconciliation and asked for respecting the mandate of each party. He said that, while pursuing their leader’s policy, they buried their “egos” and demonstrated “large heartedness” to their coalition partners. It showed that Sindh’s political conscience has excelled in Pakistan, he felt.

With the last words in the debate on the bill, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah said: “It is binding upon us to hold next LB polls in 120 days and we will strive hard to meet this condition”. He, however, said that legislation was not an easy task, adding, it took them one-and-a-half months to resolve this “minor issue” (of introducing amendments in Sindh Local Government Ordinance-2001). He said that well-reputed officers would be appointed as administrators to ensure transparent polls.

Referring to the meeting of four chief ministers chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in October when the tenure of existing local bodies ended, Shah recalled that three other provinces intended to bring amendments in the local government system and they had even brought the draft of new legislation with them to appoint administrators. But, he added, he contended that Sindh’s situation was “different” where political and social conditions were also different. Shah said that they wanted to bring “suitable” amendments in the LB system of 1979. He said that three other provinces were not in favour of LB polls and Punjab was even reluctant to hold by-polls on vacant National Assembly seats on the apprehension of the law and order situation.

Shah further said that he also “consulted” opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly and the ANP leadership regarding the proposed amendments.

He said that successive military rulers introduced an LG system with the sole purpose of bypassing national and provincial assemblies. Gen. Ayub introduced the LG system whose chairman was an official but it did not resolve the people’s problems rather it further compounded them, he added.

The chief minister said it was good to see that no one opposed the proposed bill and no one introduced any amendment to it.

Earlier, Minister for Irrigation Murad Ali Shah said that, “Civil servants will be appointed as administrators to ensure free and fair LB polls,” adding that free and fair polls were not possible in the presence of sitting Nazims.

He said that the 1979 local bodies’ ordinance introduced by military ruler Gen. Ziaul Haq would be repealed with this Act.

Minister for Katchi Abadis Rafiq Engineer said that the next LB polls, which will be held on party basis, would bring “unity” as polls on non-party basis tended to create division on the basis of language, caste and ethnicity.
Source: The News