Federal Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem on Saturday said that the enforcement of Article 149 of the Constitution will only empower and strengthen the local government systems in place across provinces and is not a matter to be considered controversial in any way.
His remarks came during a press conference in Islamabad during which he was flanked by the government’s chief spokesperson, Firdous Ashiq Awan, and other officials.
“First, I would advise everyone to read Article 149(4) of the Constitution. There is nothing controversial in it except the provision to empower a local government, and there is a mechanism to dovetail it with Article 140A,” said the law minister.
“And it won’t be for Karachi alone; if the recommendation made by the federation proves successful, it will light the way for other cities of Sindh, Punjab, KP and Balochistan,” said Naseem.
He explained that “if the local government of Kandiaro, Diplo, or Dadu is empowered, it is neither the PTI nor the MQM that benefits. It is advantageous to their own local government which is in place there and I am fighting their case.”
The law minister also clarified that the enforcement of Article 149 is not meant to create any divide between Karachi and Sindh. “We ourselves have avowed not to let Karachi segregate from the rest of the province,” said Naseem while responding to a question.
“The [strategic] committee has to iron out the issues relating to Article 149,” he continued before telling reporters: “I am ready to respond to your questions on this subject again, whenever you say.”
Naseem said that he agrees with Khurshid Shah and will not let anyone divide Sindh. Talking about Karachi, Naseem said that he did not speak of a new province. “My statement is being politicised,” he said.
The law minister has been under fire after he announced that owing to the situation in Karachi the federal government was mulling over imposing Section 149 in the metropolis.
“A Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill is being passed to provide legal and financial assistance to the poor and vulnerable segments of the society in criminal cases,” said Naseem, adding that underprivileged women and children will be given preference, under this bill.
Speaking to the media, Dr Firdous introduced the Women’s Property Bill and said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and allies have made new laws for the welfare of the people.
Firdous said the bill will protect and secure the rights of ownership and possession of properties.
“Women ombudsman will be appointed under this law, and they will exercise enforcement and policing powers to restore the possession or ownership,” she said.