Zardari, Altaf show magnanimity
Yet it was victory on paper, for the move began to meet and instant and stiff resistance from Sindhi nationalist parties, and even Mumtaz Bhutto, Ayaz Lateef Palejo, Qadir Magsi etc announced strikes and agitation, saying it amounted to dividing Sindh. The reaction was so strong that Zardari had to take notice of the murmurs in PPP ranks, including ministers and even the chief minister, parliamentarians etc. Although it was victory for principles, credit goes to Asif Zardari and Altaf Hussain for rising to the level of statesmanship and agreeing to extend the original local bodies system of 2001 to whole of Sindh, banishing the system of commissioners and deputy commissioners in the province.
Powers returned to elected representatives, nazimeen and all their colleagues. This was magnanimity on the part of Zardari and also Altaf Hussain, both of whom showed enormous wisdom and far sight. In the context of historical records, it can be easily argued that New York and Nevada can not be equated, neither can New Jersy, barely a few odd miles from the JFK airport, can compare itself with the main eastern city of America. They are big and small in territory and population wise only. In governance and legal terms , they are as much an equal State as anyone else right upto the western coast of San Fransisco. Dozens of instances can be cited in the next door neighbor India where Delhi is a province and national capital simultaneously.
Karachi and Hyderabad have governance problems and the resultant irritations caused by pressures on over and underground facilities needed quick and urgent attention. MQM city nazim in Karaci and zila nazim in Hyderabad rose to the occasion, working overtime for 4 long years to bring some sort of sanity to their two cities. Their success depended entirely on public participation. Their town nazims and deputy nazims in various cities, not only changed the face of these two cities but won accolades globally. The PPP, lusty and hungry as it is for power and pelf, was eager to take over in its own hands the massive funds for development of these two cities, suffering from decades of neglect, and had now been placed in the hands of bureaucracy. Commissioners and deputy commissioners could not even control the prices, despite the judicial authority vested in them. They are not tuned to the needs of the time. They still live in colonial ages. How could they be expected to govern such big cities with huge problems. They like sitting in their cosy offices, under the cool comfort of airconditioned rooms, and controlling merely through their kingly orders. Things were bound to deteriorate. It had already begun to suffer.
Tragic as it is, the English ,ruling India for a long time before giving up in the wake of second world war, introduced a colonial system in India and yet refrained from doing away with counties system in their own country. Double standards. That is the only name it could earn. In USA smallest counties have mayors and even their sheriffs are elected to place the police under public rule. Here a Police Ordinance of 2002, aimed at putting police in cities under mayors or nazims, was thwarted in its infancy, and is now finally killed by the present government who has done away with that innovative system of governance and police accountability. MQM remained silent on the issue, aware of the fact that it had up with the half-baked system during its powerful years in the government of Musharraf days. The party saw no reason to make it an issue, when it had already put up with it for so long. For all these years, the police order 2001 had remained idle and without any effect. Pointless now to raise voice about it now.
MQM, the undisputed leaders of urban cities in Sindh since 1987 municipal elections, and churning out majority of parliamentarians in province and the centre since then, was not expected to watch it sitting idly by. It had to take a stand, which it did. Getting out of the government brought pressure on Asif Zardari, cunning and shrewd and knowing how to protect himself and his party in power, watched Karachi burn, not hesitating to leave the country in the midst of such a severe crisis. Ultimately however when the issue of provinces began to gain momentum it needed two-third majority in the two houses of the parliament to amend the Constitution to accommodate the new provinces.
He reverted to MQM and Altaf also realizing that since its desire for support to its cause of being in opposition, has remained elusive, there really was no point in being in the opposition when by being in the government, can at least fetch it some assistance, even though partially and much less than its expectation, something was still better than nothing. But that is also politics, where everything is allowed. All part of the game. Everyone takes his time and acts only in enlightened self interest. However Zardari and Altaf jointly have saved the system and protected the province from turning into inferno.
Now the entire Sindh will revert to old local governance system with DCOs , town nazims and Karachi being one district instead of splitting into five different geographical entities. MQM by agreeing to sign the amended ordinance, has also saved itself from the looming threat of losing some of its constituencies of national and provincial assemblies in next elections with the creation of five new districts in Karachi. Who wins or who loses is no more relevant here. Both the major parties of Sindh have showed wisdom and far sight, large heartedness. Now MQM can satisfy its electorate that it had played its cards well, and should look for greater cohesion and understanding because of their maturity between them. That is now the crux of the problem the end product which is polished and enduring.