Sindh has been subject to continuous onslaught against its sovereignty and unity particularly during last sixty five years of Pakistani Federation. The recent attack on its sovereignty has been hurled by no other than Pakistan People’s Party who claims to have the mandate of the people of Sindh. This attack on the unity and sovereignty of Sindh in the shape of so called Sindh Peoples Local Government Act, 2012 reminds us the era of July, 1948 when Karachi was snatched from Sindh and placed under the suzerainty of centre. Sindh Assembly had to take refuge in Hyderabad. At present, Sindh Assembly’s very existence at Karachi will also be devoid of any utility as it has transferred the executive authority of Provincial Government to Metropolitan Corporation, Karachi making itself and the Sindh Government a puppet in the hands of Karachi Mayor.
Unfortunately, Sindh Government is undeterred by its capitulation and surrender. Its Ministers, advisors and PPP office bearers have been making baseless allegations against the leaders of National and progressive Parties of Sindh who have been spearheading a heroic struggle against this black law. Ignorant of the very letter and spirit of SPLG Act, 2012, the Government is defending the defenseless. We would like to present the case of Sindh against this law by pointing out various provisions of this black law. For the sake of convenience and understanding, we have divided the Act of 2012 into three parts: First relates to the constitution of Councils, Second enumerates the powers of the Metropolitan Corporations and third is about the financial powers conferred on the councils and resources made available to them.
(1) Constitution of Councils:
Section 8 of the SPLG Act, 2012 declares Karachi as a single district abolishing five districts for the sake of municipal purposes. It creates a single Metropolitan Corporation out of five districts in Karachi and five other single district Metropolitan Corporations in Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur, Khairpur and Larkana. Constituting single district metropolitan corporations in no case affects the demographic balance of population. However, it badly affects the demographic balance and representation of various communities particularly sindhi and Baloch in Karachi when their majority districts of Malir, South and West as well as large parts of district East are placed under the central control of Mayor who is elected indirectly on the basis of fraudulent electoral system and belongs to a particular ethnic community not forming majority of the population in Karachi. Under section 8, the Zonal Municipal Committees of the districts and District Council, Karachi representing rural areas of all the five districts have been done away with thus completely eliminating the representation of Sindhi, Baloch and other people living in Karachi. Under Section 9, eighteen towns have been created without respecting the boundaries of the revenue districts thus political Gerry maundering has been ordered in the shape of section 9. The town boundaries, at present, run across district boundaries only in Karachi whereas in other districts of Sindh, town or Talukas are the part and parcel of the same district. In Karachi, the towns have been created in such a way as to make minority population a majority one. No direct elections of the Mayor unlike London will be held. Thus a dual system has been enforced which gives complete control to one ethnic community in Karachi at the cost of others. Such basis of any law is in clear contradiction of various provisions of constitution of Pakistan when the Supreme Court of Pakistan has already held that constituencies in Karachi may be demarcated afresh giving representation to all communities living there. Thus in the name of decentralization, Karachi has been completely centralized eliminating the representation of indigenous and other communities by handing over them to the wolves of the city. District Council, Karachi which comprised of 70% of the rural areas of Karachi has been done away with, thus dealing a severe blow to Sindhi and Balochi population of Karachi. The fate of Sindhi and Baloch people has been consigned to an extremist group who has a history of terrorism, vandalism, torture, mass killings, murder and mayhem. This system of ethnic supremacy reminds Sindhi people one of the sad parts of their history when Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan within one year of Indian partition in 1947 separated Karachi from rest of Sindh in July, 1948. Again in 1954, the central government imposed infamous one unit abolishing the provincial status of Sindh and making it a part of Punjab. Throughout the history of Pakistan, Sindhis have waged struggle against various onslaughts on the sovereignty and unity of Sindh. PPP Government has again violated the sovereignty of Sindh by enacting SPLG Act, 2012 which is no less harmful than Establishment of West Pakistan Act, 1955.
(2) POWERS OF METROPOLITAN CORPORATION KARACHI
Without any iota of doubt, so called Karachi Metropolitan Corporation of Karachi has been created like a state within state. Under sections 14, 38, 39 and schedule 1 of the Sindh Peoples Local Government Act, 2012, it has been given vast authority and list of subjects much wider in scale than the powers and subjects given to Federal Government under schedule 4 of the Constitution. Under Section 14(5) it has been empowered to establish any office or activity which power even the Federal Government does not possess as it can establish only those departments, divisions or Ministries which are enumerated in schedule 4 of the Constitution.
Under Article 137 of the Constitution, Sindh Assembly has no power to transfer the executive authority of the Provincial Government to any other authority. Since there is trichotomy of the powers under the constitution, one organ of the state, particularly a legislative organ cannot snatch executive authority from the provincial government. Sindh Assembly acted in gross violation of law by passing a piece of legislation which it had no authority to enact. Despite opposition and uproar and a missing chapter 18 and 7 schedules from the statue called SPLGA, Act, 2012, the speaker of the Assembly went ahead with the passing of bill thus repeating history of his traitor uncle Ayub Khuhro who in the same manner had cajoled and coerced the members of Sindh Assembly in 1954 to pass an infamous one unit Bill in 1954. Speaker, Nisar Khuhro, being a custodian of the house, not only violated rules of the Assembly but committed an act of treachery.
Under the aforesaid sections and Schedule 1, the Metropolitan Corporations will have 43 departments with their own administration headed by a grade 20 Chief Officer who will be the head of District administration. Strangely enough, Sindh government has also 43 departments. Following departments will work under Mayor of Metropolitan Corporation.
1. Primary, vocational and continuing education. (2) Literacy (3) Health including basic and rural health centers, child health, women health and hospitals (4) Civil Defense (5) Community development and organization (6) Fisheries (7) Social Welfare (8) Sports and Sport Boards (9) Culture (10) Co-operation department (11) Finance, Budget and Accounts (12) KDA, KMC lands and Estate department (13) Property Tax (14) Housing (15) Physical planning (16) Public health engineering (17) Transport (18) Master plans, zoning and clarification of lands (19) Water Board and other water authorities (20) law and order (21) Law and legal drafting (22) Encroachments (23) Market Committees (24) Natural Disasters (25) Co-ordination (26) Environment (27) Human Resources (28) Information technology (29) Works and Services (30) Land control and land use (31) Land Revenue Co-ordination (32) Enterprises (33) Investment (34) Industry and Industrial Estates (35) Dams and water reservoirs (36) Energy (37) Police and crimes control (38) Planning and Development (39) Data Base (40) Historical and cultural sites (41) Regional markets and commercial centers (42) Coastal Development (43) Prosecution of offences under chapter XVII of the Act.
It is astonishing that Sindh government has 43 departments and the Metropolitan Corporations will also have same number of departments. Apart from above departments, the MCs have been given judicial powers under sections 109, 133, 143, 144 and 145 of the Cr. P. C. They shall also exercise powers under sections 30A to 34-B of the Police Act, 1861. Section 109 pertains to preventive detention, 133 and 143 to public nuisances, section 144 to ban any sort of activity including freedom of movement. Under section 145, Mayor has been empowered to attach a property of any citizen in case of dispute over title of the property. Interestingly, these powers, at present, are being exercised by Judiciary and police and previously, they were conferred on District magistrates and sub divisional Magistrates. Under section 201, the Mayor could be chairman of development authorities of Malir, Layari and Hyderabad. Under Section 64 and 149 he will exercise complete control over town Chairmen unlike Mushraff system. Under Section 23, Mayor could only be removed by two third majority when the Chief Minister can be removed by simple majority of the house. Under section 28(e) Mayor will implement Provincial and Federal Laws, under Section 29, he can take disciplinary action against officers of Administration headed by Chief Officer and he has been empowered to initiate ACRs of the officers.
Under this arrangement, two parallel administrations will be working in the province: one under the Chief Officer controlled by Mayor and another under Deputy Commissioner who shall be responsible to Chief Minister. The administration headed by Mayor will be all resourceful and powerful whereas the administration working under Deputy Commissioner and instructed by Chief Minister will be nominal, weak and toothless having no authority whatsoever. This system is more lethal than Musharaff’s SLGO of 2001 as under that system power and authority over 12 departments was shared by the Provincial as well as Local Governments. Under this system, Metropolitan Corporation will have 43 departments instead of 12 under Mushraff system which stand completely transferred to them. Under this black Act, the departmental authority will not be shared by provincial government and councils rather it has been transferred to MCs to the total exclusion of Sindh government. This system will sow the seeds of conflict and enmity between Sindhi and Urdu speaking Sindhis and will divide mother Sindh on ethnic basis.
(3) FINANCIAL BASIS
Municipal institutions throughout their history in Sindh right from 1910 to 2001 catered to their needs from their own taxes including octri tax, local cess, rents and other fees. However, with the sharing of authority over 12 departments under Sindh Local Government Ordinance, 2001, Provincial Finance commission was created on the pattern of National Finance Commission under Article 160 of the constitution to divide tax revenue between Federal and Provincial governments. Similar arrangement has been made under section 124 and 126 of the SLGA 2012. Under section 116, the accounts of the councils shall be kept in a manner approved by the President of Pakistan. Besides, property tax has also been transferred to Metropolitan Corporations. Thus Metropolitan corporations will have their own taxes, plus property tax as well as right over the finances of the Provincial Government. The Metropolitan Corporations will be fed from the finances of provincial government and provincial governments will only be serving as post offices. History is witness to the fact that encroachment over the powers and authority of the Province of Sindh has been anathema to Sindhis. On the one hand, centre has usurped the sovereignty and resources of the province and on the other Local Government system has been tailored to snatch the sovereignty and authority of the province. It is beyond any shadow of doubt that all powers and authority of the Province including coastal islands and finance has been transferred to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation which will be established on the basis of undemocratic Principles eliminating the representation of Sindhi and Baloch people and will be a state unto itself.
PPP Government, through its inept and treacherous policy, has repeated history when Chanesar, a local traitor entered into an agreement with Alauddin Khilji of Dehli to attack Sindh. Great Dodo Soomro fought a valiant struggle against Dehli Rule. This black law on the basis of PPP-Mutahida agreement could be compared only with Chanesar-Khilji agreement to snatch sovereignty of Sindh. Therefore, we call upon all the loyal sons and daughters of Sindh to resist this fascist and anti-Sindh black law by following in the footsteps of Great Dodo and defeat the PPP government who has imposed a war-like terms on Sindh.
SINDH BACHAYO COMMITTEE
Hyder Manzil, Karachi, Sindh