SPLGO: This land is your land, this land is my land

Published: October 6, 2012

After years of bad governance in the province that has caused damage to property and lives, the two parties had no other option but to go for something as drastic as this. DESIGN: IMAAN SHEIKH

As you may have heard by now, MQM and PPP have successfully managed to divide the province of Sindh along their power base lines. In a very smart move just before the elections, the PPP and MQM have hammered out a deal that will see Sindh get divided in a manner that benefits both parties.

Just to ensure that their opponents really do not do much damage, they have passed something called the Sindh Peoples Local Governance Ordinance (SPLGO) that creates five ‘metropolitan corporations’ in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas and Larkana districts. The rest of the districts in Sindh would have district councils. Metro corporations would have a mayor heading them and running the day to day affairs, while the councils are to have a chairperson in place that apparently has the same powers as the mayor.

Now before we go any further, it is crucial to understand how this regulation, SPLGO, will divide Sindh. The five metro corporations declared under the SPLGO hold 35 National Assembly (NA) seats while rest of Sindh holds 26 National Assembly seats. So the five metro corps hold more NA seats then rest of the 18 Districts of Sindh.

Out of the five metro corps, two of the largest ones, Karachi and Hyderabad, that make up one third of Sindh’s population with 26 NA seats, are MQM strongholds. The other three metro corps are PPP strongholds with nine NA seats.

So basically, what has happened in the case of Sindh is that the PPP and MQM have carved out their strongholds into separate entities called the ‘metropolitan corporations’.

According to both, the PPP and MQM, the SPLGO would be the best thing to happen. One is compelled to ask, then, why did they not simply make all districts into metropolitan corporations?

If you upgrade the status of an area, it normally helps that area grow further and makes the developmental activities there faster. So why not let the rest of Sindh enjoy the same benefits as the PPP/MQM strongholds?

Just a few months before the elections, the control of law enforcement is being handed over to contesting political parties. What kind of democracy is this?

If the police are under the control of MQM, do you think they would let ANP, PTI or PML-N do what they wish? In interior Sindh, where the law and order situation is already troubled, the police would now be under the PPP.

Even after drawing a clear line between the Sindh that ‘matters’ and the Sindh that does not, MQM and PPP are persistent that SPLGO can do wonders.

Have we reached a point where the glaring division in the status of districts is now something positive? Why are we allowing two political parties to divide Sindh while cutting out all other political stakeholders just so they can rule it forever? Fact of the matter is that PPP and MQM are vulnerable in Sindh. After years of bad governance in the province that has caused damage to property and lives, the two parties had no other option but to go for something as drastic as this.

The MQM has been having a tough time in Karachi due to the expanding influence of other parties like ANP and Sunni Tehreek. The ‘gang war’ has shown that MQM is slowly losing control; add to this the resurgence of the Jamaat-e-Islami as a serious player in Karachi politics, and you realise MQM is in a hot water.

No incumbent party likes to go in to elections while being in such a situation. They need the state machinery to work in their favour if they are to preserve their political numbers. For example, even though the MQM is a party of the provincial government, the party pretends to be helpless when it comes to the law and order situation in Karachi. Now with the SPLGO, MQM can use their prior excuse and have the security apparatus work under them, hence making their political life and electioneering much easier.

PPP has identical problems in the rest of Sindh. They have performed poorly and are desperate to hold on to their political majority. For that, they have done everything from literally handing out money to signing up new political alliances, but even they know that simply signing new partnerships is not going to be enough to win back the voters.

They opted for this arrangement because, firstly, it lets them take control of the areas which are traditional strongholds. So if everything goes wrong, they would still be able to maintain their core base areas. However, the reason why PPP agreed to this deal was mostly because they need the MQM. It was not because MQM helps them secure majority in the National Assembly, but because, honestly, everyone knows what happens when you do not include MQM in the government; Karachi suddenly catches fire.

It is safe to say that for PPP, the whole thing is a bit of self preservation and a little of political bending over.

Read more by Adnan here or follow him on Twitter @adnanrasool 

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Adnan Khalid Rasool

Currently the Deputy Executive Director Center for Enterprise, Trade and Development, Adnan is also a political analyst working mainly on electoral politics and political campaign management. He tweets at @adnanrasool

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ali Ahsan

    Power sharing, and political pragmatism, is the only way forward to stabilise the still transitional democracy in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Syed

    This is indeed a very good decision and will benefit the people of Sindh.

    S. Mustafa Kamal was the best example of such a system.Recommend

  • Parvez

    You have nicely explained a complex issue.
    Your saying that the ‘ tail is wagging the dog , but thats how its been for the last many, many years and the owner of the dog seems quite happy.Recommend

  • fus

    What a pathetic and misleading article. First of all the police would still be under provincial govt. Mayor will not control it, unlike most of the metropolitan cities of the world. so no change there. Secondly MQM has no problem if same system is implemented in rest of the cities of Sind, but it is the feudal/land lords who don’t want that to happen. Beside that is how it is in the world, even in US, not all cities have same system, but based on the size and population. Smaller cities in New York state don’t have same local govt. system as New York City. The ppl who are against this ordinance wants to have old bureaucratic based 1979 commissioner system, which is regressive and introduced to control the population. Instead of appreciating that the govt. has tried to balance b/w the 1979 and 2001 ordinance, suggest improvement rather than writing ill-informed and useless article. Request more cities to be made metropolitan since the provision is there in the ordinance.

    But again what would you expect from an author is who has no clue about the reality of Sind and is writing from his cozy chair in Lahore. I would suggest you should just write about things you are familiar with like local govt. in Punjab. Your two cent is actually nothing but two cent. Read, research and then write. Same goes to the ppl of Sindh, rather than complainig aganst the system, ask your leaders to make cities like Nawabshah and Khairpur metropolitan.Recommend

  • papoo piplia

    Dude, if you think sindh is one, why is there urban rural quota division for jobs and education?Recommend

  • MMB

    LOl its funny when you talk about other stake holders… How many seats do parties like Anp, Jamat and sunni tehreek have even if you combine all of them.Recommend

  • Hameed Ansari

    Please explain how will Sindh benefit from this dual system which aims to create a state within a state?
    Also please do explain how the rural populations of Sindhis and balochs (which were incorporated in City government as 18 towns) prospered under your beloved mayor during 11 years of MQM rule during musharraf? It is a fact that this mayor of yours directed the funds only to certain MQM-stronghold areas.Recommend

  • Atif Yousufzai

    Funny article. MQM is always in demand of LG system in whole sindh, but PPP has more mandate in Sindh, hence they recommended controlling cities through LG and rest through district councilors, i don’t see any division, i see an effort which is definitely better than 1979 commisoner system.Recommend

  • The Nomad

    Karachi is now counted among the most populous cities of the world. Sadly it is administered under one of the most obsolete systems currently out there.

    Running and managing such a huge, diverse and complex metropolis needs educated,honest, sophisticated and visionary minds who have the authority to implement their vision and plans. This should be the case not just for Karachi but for all cities in Sindh and Pakistan.

    The urban centers of Sindh should not be run by feudal lords who only are good at running their lands and stables. Devolution of power is a necessity for progress. Every city of the world has its own policing setup, traffic management system, revenue generation plans, health, education and social programs. Sindh cannot afford to regress by supporting an outdated governance system. Local bodies is the only way to progress.

    Sindh has two options. Either to convert its urban centers into areas having skyscrapers of garbage, disease, poverty, illiteracy, and overpopulation. OR. Turn its cities into centers of progress, prosperity,good health and education. A local bodies system will provide the latter.
    The progress achieved in the cities will reach all parts of Sindh eventually.

    This is no time for regressive thinking. The only way forward is the local bodies system. Recommend

  • http://strongerpakistan.wordpress.com/ Logic Monkey

    Point is….. MQM and PPP divided Sindh… There is simply no denying that for political gain they have divided Sindh on party lines. The author is simply explaining how they did this and why it will come back to haunt Pakistan. I fully agree with what the Author has to say about this issue..What I am interested in what our MQM friends have to say.. Is this not blatant political manoeuvring on their Part? Did they NOT divide Sindh with SPLGO? Why did they not want the same for rest of Sindh? Is Rest of Sindh not as important as Karachi?Recommend

  • Sami

    Coming from a born and bred Karachite !!…. LGO is by far the best thing that has ever happened to the City … Mustafa Kamal Zindabad !!Recommend

  • http://strongerpakistan.wordpress.com/ Logic Monkey

    Typical MQM replies… Read the whole thing.. the discussion is not wether Mustafa Kamal is good or bad.. it is how MQM along with PPP have divided Sindh. Its just fascinating how MQM and its supporters are so well trained at never really answering the actual question instead just dancing around it repeating themselves over and over again….

    The Author is raising actual questions… answer them… Recommend

  • Sami

    @ Hameed …. Lyari Expressway, the clean water lines, sewage lines are a few projects I can remember on the top of my head …. All in a place where MQM hasn’t won a single seat in history …. The road to Mubarak Village …. And the list goes on ….. that brother is a FACT !!Recommend

  • papoo piplia

    also there is a dire need to give full control of Karachi’s police, traffic, transport, health, education to the city government instead of incompetent village outsiders who know nothing of urban planning.Recommend

  • papoo piplia

    We will see how people like the author will react if some jahil feudal lord from, say south Punjab comes over and starts ruling Lahore and destroying its each and every institution. But that would never happen as the ethnicity that Lahoris belong to has the demographic majority in Punjab.Recommend

  • Rahim ALi

    bring back Mr kamal as a Mayor Again !!!Recommend

  • Nabi Soomro

    I dont know why people are so much stubborn about their ideas.. the wirter has beautifully made a conclusion that SPLGO is merely a step by both MQM & PPP towards securing thier areas of influence. Mustafa might have done KAMALS but its not about him. Its about the law. Its a fact that the development can not be carried out across the board, people do take cognizance of their areas and keep them on priority. Local Govt may be good,, but why for the past four years the system of Local Govt was not in place. Now MQM would say “Govt” didnt want that… I ask who is the Govt if MQM is not the Government. People at the helm of affairs (politicians, land lords, bhai lords, capitalists) have divided the country on ethnic and party lines so that they can enjoy the friuts of this Division. no matter they sit in Islamabad or Karachi or elsewhere….. Try and undersatnd fellows, its not necessary that you should like everything that any party does.Recommend

  • fus

    Nabi Soomro, My friend, what will it take for ppl like you to start using your brain. Why is everything termed conspiracy to break Sind.You know that local govt. is better for everyone of us but you will come up with illogical excuses to make it anti-sindh conspiracy. Why cant you see beyond MQM, how does it help MQM when ppl really want to have a local govt. system. MQM has be requesting it for last 3-4 years, PPP was delaying it, even now they have accepted it more as a political move, but educated people like you never came out on streets to force PPP to implement local govt. system. Now when they have implemented you are complaining just because how it was done. In so many discussions I have yet to see anyone pointing out a major issue in the ordinance. Atleast think beyond PPP and MQM, list down the points that you think are the real issue.
    Again as you said, it is not about a party, but a system, so talk about substance. Go beyond these conspiracy theories.Recommend

  • fus

    @ Logic Monkey, you are the one who think that this ordinance has divided the province on party lines, why don’t you prove it? Province is already divided for last 30 years, and that is thanks to the local govt system of 1979. Why can’t you compare the systems and compare the benefits? Just because MQM was asking for the devolution of power, you have an issue with it. PTI has a similar local govt plan, nobody has problem with that. Even the PPP manifesto takes about the devolution, but that is was ok until MQM comes up with its points.

    Here is a excerpt form the article, which shows author ignorance and lack of knowledge,
    –Just a few months before the elections, the control of law enforcement is being handed over to contesting political parties. What kind of democracy is this?

    If the police are under the control of MQM, do you think they would let ANP, PTI or PML-N do what they wish? In interior Sindh, where the law and order situation is already troubled, the police would now be under the PPP. —

    Nobody is giving control of police to MQM or the Mayor. So please top spreading lies. Take about the finer points of the law, and how does it impact life of a poor Sindhi. Hereis my advice to you and ppl like you, take a deep breath, have a glass of water and then find out what powers are being devolved to a Mayor. Then think about them and then write about the pros and cons. Like the Author don’t start shooting in air with no substance. Whatever you are saying or Author has written is the present picture nothing to do with this Ordinance. In fact let it run, with improvement in day to day life, the rifts b/w the ppl will actually shrink.Recommend

  • mander

    Its not only MQM, JI in Karachi endorses local govt. Only “outsiders” not born or raised in Karachi oppose it.Recommend

  • mystreeman

    The article is atrociously obnoxious in nature. Those who are crying hoarse that LGO is division of Sindh are mute for last 3 decades against the real division of Sindh when it was divided on the basis of Rural and Urban Quota. Lets the people of Urban Sindh also feel that they have a say in running the province, cities, towns. Get away with Quota System first and then talk about unity of Sindh.Recommend

  • mystreeman

    Interestingly the writer is Lahore based. So it is not without reason permanent dwellers of Sindh blame Punjab for creating rift among Sindhis whether they speak Urdu or Sindhi. Recommend

  • saad
  • hameedullah

    For those having doubts that police is not handed over to the mayor please read Section 145 CRPC 30A- 34B of SPLGO 2012. That will clear you information.
    And also those who think that how does Sindh become divided they should read sections 18, 27, 24, 43, 38, 201, 145, 144, 143, 133, 109, 14(5) you will know how Sindh is divided. And yes how did the commisionerate system divide Sindh. It had DCO who were completely under control of provincial government. Basically when divide a territory you divide it’s administrative system and cut it from it’s government. SPLGO 2012 does exactly that and not with just 1 metro corp but creates 6 others that means Sindh is divided into 7 pieces whose governments will have over 40 of the departments (in musharaff’s LG sytem mayor had 12).
    And if the PPP ministers are to be believed that there is only one system and DCOs in district government have same powers as mayors then we are talking about 23 parts of Sindh divided in such a way that they are cut off from the provincial government.Recommend

  • Alam Aziz

    Those people who are at odds with MQM are not very comfortable with this law.
    The new would let people have powers at a local level. The dilemma is that these anti Muhajir elements would never like to see MQM holding the local bodies in two most important cities of Sindh and of Pakistan .All non political forces in Sindh like Sindhi nationalists and political orphans like PML N are making every h ue and cry against the new law. ANP though is a political force but it still has not accepted the fact that it is only MQM who is rulling urban Sindh for last 27 years and th,ere are no chances in atleast near future that this MQM dominance is about to end. Now as PPP has after a long time realized this fact and gave up its desires and intentions to wow the urban population.Sindh is politically ,socially and even economically divided in 1970’s .Look at the beauracrcy in Sindh almost Sindhi speaking .The commissioners ,the DIG’s ,the provincial secretaries ,the police officers ,every powerful position is held by a Sindhi speaking loyalist hailing from interior Sindh. These are the reasons why the Urban Sindh has decided to go with MQM ,since no other polical partis willing to accept the fact that Sindh cannot be ruled by Islambad ,therefore Karachi can not be ruled from or by Larkana or Khairpur. You need to let people rule themselves at local level.Ninety percent of ministers and beauracracy are Sindhi speaking and Urdu speaking are marginally didelined in the day to day affairs of Sindh.The same blunder you did while dealing with Bengalis are committing now in Sindh and in Baluchistan .I am very sorry to say that I am a Muslim and these temporary identities of Sindhi,Punjabi and Muhajir and Padhtun are no more attractive to me .I just believe that please let people govern themselves.Those are who believe in Pakistan should survive and rest all are regional and cultural beauties.Recommend