For MQM, it comes to a lone march
ISLAMABAD: Less than a week after parting from the PPP-led coalition government, it came to only a lonely walkout for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in the National Assembly on Friday over its loss of a favourable local government law in Sindh province.
No other opposition party joined them, or said a word of sympathy when MQM lawmakers staged a token walkout to protest against Thursday’s repeal of Sindh People’s Local Government Act, 2012 by the PPP-dominated provincial assembly seen as a tit-for-tat for the MQM’s departure from the coalition on Feb 16 and a move to neutralise strong opposition to that law in the province ahead of the coming elections.Only a day earlier, the MQM stood with the Pakistan Muslim League-N, the main opposition party, to oppose a government bill seeking to convert the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, which serves as the main government hospital in Islamabad, into a medical university named after executed former prime minister and PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
But there was not even a ripple on PML-N or other opposition benches on Friday when MQM legislators stormed out of the house after one of them, Asif Hasnain, lambasted the PPP for letting nearly five years of its rule pass without local government elections and hastily killing what he called a “consensus” 2012 Act, which was seen a major prize for the MQM for its oft-broken alliance at the centre and in Sindh for providing for a separate local government system for its powerbase of Karachi.
In another development, veteran PPP parliamentarian Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor suggested the government give a detailed statement about a perceived setback to Pakistan in the Court of Arbitration based in The Hague in a dispute over India’s Kishanganga hydro-electric project. After the issue was raised by PML-N’s Naseer Bhutto, who said news reports of partial announcement of the court’s award last week – while the final award is yet to come – smelled of “high-level corruption” on the part of Pakistan’s legal team, Mr Ghafoor called it a ”matter of life and death” about which he said the government should give a proper explanation, possibly on Monday when the house meets after a two-day recess.