By Naseer Memon
Impregnated with ethnic strife, the Sindh Peoples Local Government Act (SPLGA) created an unprecedented anti-PPP sentiment in its stronghold, Sindh. Proceedings of the Supreme Court, hearing a petition seeking annulment of the law, were indicative of an inclement outcome for the government. The recent experience of by-elections also sent waves of consternation in the ruling camp as its candidates faced pillories from opponents and disgruntled masses on the same law. All these factors constrained the PPP to cajole its ally to rescind the politically incendiary law. The belated adieu by the MQM to the government is viewed as an overtly cosmetic move under a premeditated script. On the day that acting governor of Sindh, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, signed to repeal the SPLGA, the Karachi Stock Exchange recorded bonanza business — unimaginable if it was not a mock war between the two parties. Nevertheless, the interment of a divisive law averted a lurking ethnic frenzy in the province, already mired with unremitting violence, especially in Karachi.
In the presence of this law, the next general elections could have been a nightmare for the PPP in Sindh. Although the opposition has been disarmed of its would-be most popular slogan of divisive law, the lacklustre performance of the PPP during the past five years has sufficiently exasperated its voters. Rampant corruption, brazen violation of merit in postings and transfers, displacement of several million flood affectees, substandard quality of social sector services, ubiquitous lawlessness, shabby infrastructure and scruffy towns can provide ample ammunition for the election campaign of opposition parties. For the PPP, the past platitude of victimisation and martyrdom of the Bhuttos has lost its lustre to fascinate the masses this time. Portending this ominous fact, the party has embarked upon a medley of actions, including cajoling feudal lords in Sindh.