Sindh asks federal govt to withdraw ‘illegal’ ordinance

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The Sindh government has asked the federal government to “immediately” withdraw an ordinance aimed at taking control of two islands along Karachi’s coast, saying the islands belonged exclusively to the people and the government of Sindh.
At a press conference here on Tuesday, representatives of the provincial government said the Sindh cabinet had also decided not to hold any further discussion with the Centre regarding the development of the islands. Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said the islands “were, are and will remain the property of Sindh”, adding that the province did not desire any development in which its people were not involved and which was without the Sindh government’s approval.
“We will not allow any action that seeks to usurp Sindh’s rights and land and could harm the local population,” he said. Murtaza Wahab, the provincial government’s spokesperson, said the Constitution clearly stated that the land within a province’s limits belonged to the provincial government.
Through the PIDA ordinance, he said, the federal government had “tried to give the impression that they can add any island to federal property by amending this schedule. This is a completely unconstitutional act done by the federal government.”
He further said the Sindh cabinet today had “unanimously expressed reservations” over and condemned the move and demanded that the federal government “withdraw this illegal ordinance forthwith”. Terming the ordinance “an encroachment on the provincial authority and powers”, Wahab said the Sindh government had long maintained that the islands were a property of the people and government of Sindh. “When the federal government told Sindh that they wanted to carry out development on these islands, the Sindh government categorically informed them that these islands are property of Sindh government and people,” he added, denying the impression that “the Sindh government did not fight Sindh’s case.”
He said the ordinance, published in the Gazette on September 2, was made public in the first week of October, which he alleged showed the federal government’s “ill-intent”. “The Sindh cabinet … has decided that these islands are the property of Sindh’s people, government and province,” he reiterated. “We have rejected this ordinance and requested the federal government to immediately withdraw it.”
He said the talks that the Sindh government planned to hold with the Centre regarding the islands “in good faith” will no longer be taken forward “because we don’t trust your word anymore”.
A letter addressed to the federal government regarding the proposal for the islands’ development was also withdrawn by the Sindh cabinet, Wahab told the news conference.