The Sindh Local Government Act was passed with amendments in the Sindh Assembly on Saturday in a chaotic session that saw loud chants by a fervently protesting Opposition.
The Opposition members surrounded the dias of Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, with anti-government placards in hand, where they raised slogans and even proceeded to tear up their copies of the agenda, throwing them towards the treasury benches.
Things began to get heated when mere sloganeering and hurling of abuses gave way to physical blows between PTI and PPP members.
Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah expressed great displeasure over the commotion, saying that the Centre had seen such unruly behaviour but now it was being witnessed in Sindh.
“The Centre already had an illiterate government. Now we have an illiterate Opposition in Sindh,” he remarked.
He said that the bill is “in accordance with the wishes of the people”.
“You must view us (Sindh) as a part of Pakistan,” he said, adding: “Do not create an environment in which we are compelled to think any other way.”
Shah said that Governor Sindh Imran Ismail had levelled allegations of horse trading on the majority that passed the bill. He said that the Opposition had proposed two amendments, which have been included in the act, and now the amended act will be sent back to the governor for approval.
Speaking of the impact on governance following the amendment to the act, the chief minister said that Sindh’s urban areas will have a “town system”.
According to the act, the mayor’s election will be done with a show of hands and only elected officials will be able to run for mayor.
The mayor will be the co-chairman of Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and chairman of Solid Waste Management Board, he said.
Minister for Information Sindh Saeed Ghani lamented that “abusive language was hurled” at the provincial government officials and that they were insulted.
“Papers were thrown at the speaker and members of the government,” he added.
“If someone has troubles at home, they should not bring their frustrations with them to the Assembly,” Ghani remarked. It was not clear who he was referring to.
“If you have multiple marriages that are causing strife, find a solution.
“If personal problems are creating difficulties, hit your head against the wall, not in the Assembly,” the minister added.
‘Another dark day’
Talking to media after the Sindh Assembly session, PTI parliamentary leader Bilal Ghaffar said that the Sindh Assembly witnessed “another dark day” and that the province has “civilian dictatorship”.
“The government passed legislation which allows a takeover of the province, and we were not allowed to speak,” he said.
‘Law of corruption’
MQM member Kunwar Naveed Jamil said that the Sindh government “kept control of all the revenue-generating institutions”.
Local government hospitals and schools have also been nationalised, he said.
“They have brought in a law of corruption on which the Opposition was not even allowed to speak,” Jamil added.
‘System of oppression’
Arif Mustafa Jatoi, a member of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), said that the PPP used to call retired Gen Pervez Musharraf’s system “a system of oppression” and is now “bringing the same system”.
‘Opposition to not allow seizure of local bodies’ resources’
MQM member Muhammad Hussain said that the opposition had made the joint decision to not allow “dictatorship” in the Sindh Assembly and seizure of the resources of local bodies.