At least two amendments in the Sindh Local Government Act were passed by the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday despite protests and heavy sloganeering by opposition leaders.
An amendment in the act called for monitoring of local government representatives by the Sindh government which invited the wrath of opposition leaders Khawaja Izharul Hasan of the MQM and Sheheryar Mehr of the PML-F who argued that the move showed the government did not want to hold local government elections.
Sindh Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro however contended that monitoring of local government representatives was necessary to ensure that they did not engage in illegal activities.
Sindh Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmed Khuhro tabled the amendments as members of the opposition chanted slogans of “shame” and protested before the assembly speaker besides tearing copies of the bill.
The opposition accused the Sindh government of using the pull of the majority in the assembly to get the bill passed.
A second amendment in the act passed into law was in accordance with an earlier Supreme Court’s verdict ordering election of local government representatives – including mayor, deputy mayor, chairman and vice chairman – through secret ballot instead of a show of hands within 60 days.
The amendment was passed with consensus in the assembly.
Local government positions are hotly contested in Pakistan’s main financial hub. Since it swept the elections with 135 seats for six Karachi districts, the MQM appears poised to clinch the office of Karachi mayor and deputy mayor with Waseem Akhtar as the prime mayoral candidate.
In the past, the MQM had alleged that local government did not hold meaningful powers, saying the mayor of Karachi would have no power as the PPP-led provincial government had reserved a number of powers for itself.