LG controversy & cautious Indians
The controversy between the M Q M and the PPP on what should be the system for the Local Bodies in Sindh started on PPP wanting the old British administrative system to be implemented – or revive the Deputy Commissioners and Commissioners administration. It is to be noted that in “democratic” India, the British system is by and large in tact with certain added paraphernalia of Gandhian village representative bodies. The emotion loaded denunciation that the old system is a relic of imperialism is irrelevant. British introduced so many systems of governance that if this objection was to be acted upon hardly any thing will be left of modern administration and what more it is working in India. As against this, MQM insisted on Nazim system to have a say in the local administration. There is much that can be said in favour of both the systems. Each has its merits.
This is a compromise formula aimed at putting to an end the controversy in Sindh about creation of a new Suba of Karachi. If this can close the bickering over the status of Karachi it was a practical manner of creating harmony between the two groups, the so-called Muhajirs and Sindhis. It remains to be seen how this compromise will work out. It may be pointed out that all other four districts put together are not any where equal to Karachi, in population and income. It can be safely said that greater Lahore and Karachi are several decades ahead of any province. Even in population Karachi is nearing 3 crores. There could be a case for a different local bodies system for Karachi, but to what extent it applied to four other districts is not known to me.
However, the ANP is furious over this dichotomy in local bodies system and intends to lead opposition marches against this Ordinance. The Functional Muslim League of Pir Pagara too has challenged it . It remains to be seen what future holds for this otherwise a reasonable compromise if MQM can implement it as a non-partisan administration. Fire work may not be ruled out considering the reaction of the two groups to withdraw from the coalition with PPP Government. It seems a far fetched claim that this dichotomy in local bodies system can lead to the division of Sind. Larkana is a PPP’s mental capital. In all other three districts Sindhis are numerically significant.
Much jubilation has been witnessed on the Visa Accord with India. The reason for this jubilation is difficult to understand. It is some thing but not what the TV propagandists have made it out. First about the Visa Accord. India has opened its doors but with considerable caution which is quite visible in their attitude towards Pakistan. I do not know any country which has 8 category of visas with Pakistan. 65 year olds who can get visa at the Wagha /Attari border are supposed to walk about two three miles on foot to cross the India-Pak border, a condition in the rules. From my days on post in India I know even only diplomatic cars could cross the border, others had to walk in the check posts area. Old citizens are not put to such ordeals. Mr Rehman made very high sounding comments on the- as if - a great break through between India-Pak relations but Indian Minister was quite restraint . His meeting with Prime Minister Raja Ashraf Pervaiz was an indication also .
In the photo of his meeting with the Prime Minister he is well composed and non-enthusiastic but the Prime Minister seems to be gleeful on this meeting. The only good point of Raja’s meeting was that he was in a Pakistani dress which was not the norm with ex P M Yusuf Raza Gillani. He would not let such an occasion go without exhibiting his expensive foreign made suits. At least Raja Ashraf Pervaiz is seen in Pakistani dress more often than not. Prime Minister Raja Ashraf is quite often dressed as a Pakistani which is as it should have been in the past too. However, PPP stalwarts seem to have discarded Jinnah cap totally and shown a fondness for expensive suits. In India even rich politicians are seen in national dress but it is the contrary in Pakistan Incidentally the Visa Accord was signed by the Interior Minister whereas in International practice accords signed by the Foreign Minister are two governments agreements , signed by others are only working agreement. The Agreement should have been signed by the Foreign Minister on our side also .
Returning to a point of protocol, it is not necessary for a female minister to appear on photo sessions with foreign personalities to be holding hands, which is different from holding hands. Quick shaking hands for a female official as a formality is different from holding hands. In Protocol small details matter. For example who so ever might be included in a delegation in a “democratic” country, the next place after the President or Prime Minister abroad is that of Foreign Minister not of a party office holder whatever he or she may be. The Party big wigs took precedent over ministers only in Soviet Communist countries. If in a delegation their place is below all the ministers. A President’s family has protocol precedence only on social parties, NOT in official negotiations or in delegations abroad. In fact it is open to question if a party official can be taken by the President to a tête-à-tête with a foreign government head. I might add that in the Foreign Office Protocol and Chief of Protocol had been under me and in about four decades of diplomatic career details of protocol were known to me.