By Mohammad Khan Sial
KARACHI: The people of Sindh were shocked by President Asif Ali Zardari’s remarks while speaking at the fifth South Asian Free Media Association conference in which he complained that nationalists were not ready to talk to the government over the new local government law in Sindh as they were getting money from Punjab for behaving in such a manner. The president also claimed that the controversial Zulfikarabad project is in favour of Sindh and that the nationalists are opposed to the province’s development.
Firstly, I would like to point out that the government has always claimed that the nationalists have no backing in Sindh as they have never been able to win even a single seat in elections. I am unable to understand if that is the case then why is President Zardari so worried about their protests? His claim that Punjab is financing this protest movement in Sindh is unacceptable. The PML-F’s Pir Pagaro is also a staunch opponent of the new law so much so that according to press reports, he did not accept the president’s request to meet him. Can the president please clarify whether Pir Pagara is also receiving funding from Punjab in exchange for opposing the law? I would like to inform the president that the people of Sindh as a whole oppose this system. The government cannot be successful in portraying that only nationalists are opposed to it.
Regarding Zulfikarabad, the president’s claim that “opponents of the project are opponents of development of Sindh” is unacceptable for the simple reason that this project is bound to bring demographic changes in Sindh, increasing fears among Sindhis that after its completion, they would be reduced to a minority in their own province. If the president was really keen on alleviating the plight of Sindh, he would have diverted the funds allocated to Zulfikarabad to the less-developed areas of the province.
In his speech, the president also claimed that at the time of the commissioning of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), protests were staged against the move by nationalists. These claims are false. No one opposed the commissioning of the PSM. However, people demanded fair compensation for the land that was taken from them on which to build the PSM. They also demanded that locals be given jobs at the mills. These two promises have not been fulfilled so far.
On behalf of the people of Sindh, I request President Zardari to not make the new local government system an issue of his ego and withdraw the controversial law by allowing amendments to the old bill.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2012.