ONCE again, on the occasion of its 37th foundation day in Karachi, the MQM-P has called for the creation of an ‘urban Sindh’ province. This demand has been raised many times before, in apparent response to the perceived injustices the dwellers of urban Sindh have faced, with Muttahida leaders blasting the PPP-led provincial government for its ‘biased’ attitude towards Sindh’s cities at Thursday’s rally in Nishtar Park.
While the Constitution allows for the creation of new administrative units, the process has to be channelled through the right forum — the respective provincial assemblies. Any attempt to carve out new provinces by bypassing the provincial legislature will create more problems and add to the ethnic divide.
Moreover, as the PPP enjoys a comfortable majority in the Sindh Assembly, the move is a non-starter. Also, urban Sindh is a euphemism for the province’s Urdu speakers, and the MQM’s attempts to repeatedly use this card to revive its political fortunes will only fuel ethnic tension and give the more extreme Sindhi nationalist factions an opportunity to promote their narrow brand of politics.
There can be little doubt that where facilities and infrastructure are concerned, Sindh’s cities lie in ruins, and the PPP is squarely to blame for introducing a failed local government system that is designed to be micromanaged by the provincial government. But it is also true that the province’s rural areas are faring even worse.
One way to address such issues, as we have indicated in our first editorial today, is to put in place empowered LGs that deal with local problems effectively.
Elected district, city and local body heads can address problems better than ministers and bureaucrats sitting in Karachi, inaccessible to the people. The Muttahida’s other grievances, such as the quota system, must also be discussed at the national level to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. Sindh has suffered from decades of ethnic strife, and all political stakeholders must promote communal harmony instead of indulging in the politics of division.