KARACHI: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Sunday ruled out the possibility of imposing governor rule in Sindh, saying the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government considered it a non-democratic and extra-constitutional step.
The Federal Government, however, was in favour of the implementation of Article 140-A of Constitution, which requires the provinces to establish a local government (LG) system, and devolve political, administrative and financial powers to the LG elected representatives so that the basic issues of people could be resolved at their doorsteps, he told a press conference here at the Sindh Governor’s House.
The minister questioned the Sindh government where it spent over Rs 1,800 billion that it had received under the National Finance Commission award in the previous years “as nothing on ground has been seen”.
An amount of over Rs 700 billion was earmarked for the province in next year's federal budget, he added.
He said the people of Sindh were suffering only because of the policies of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government, which had completely failed to resolve their problems.
The health system in the province had deteriorated to the extent that the Supreme Court judges had to observe that the hospitals devolved to the province should be handed back over to the Federal Government for improving their service delivery, the minister remarked.
Similarly, he said, the deplorable condition of development projects, dilapidate roads, and non-availability of drinkable water and other basic facilities spoke volumes about the provincial government's performance.
The PPP government had failed to maintain law and order even in the provincial capital, he added.
Fawad deplored the Sindh government for not convening the meeting of Provincial Finance Commission, nor putting financial resources at the disposal of LG bodies or devolving administrative powers to them.
In a total contravention of the Constitution, he said, all the decisions were being made at the Bilawal House undermining the authority of provincial assembly and cabinet.
“This is a constitutional crisis in itself," he added, urging the Supreme Court to ensure implementation of Constitution, particularly Article 140-A in Sindh as it was the only statutory procedure for granting basic rights to both urban and rural areas of the province.
The minister said the PTI government was committed to resolving the issues being faced by people of Sindh, “which is evident from the “growth-oriented” budget for 2021-22 fiscal year, being hailed by every segment of the society, including trade and industry”.
He said the next fiscal year would be the “year of the development of Pakistan and prosperity of its people”.
Fawad said recently, when the national power transmission system was under severe pressure and the electric supply in the entire country was disrupted, Karachi comparatively suffered less than the previous years. “The reason is that the Federal Government is providing 500 MW additional electricity to K-Electric to provide relief to the residents of Karachi,” he added.
As regards the issues of journalists fraternity, the minister said the Federal Government wanted to constitute Pakistan Media Development Authority to ensure the rights of media professionals and resolve their problems.
He said the government had paid the outstanding dues of Rs 1.17 billion to the media houses so that they could pay salaries to media workers and journalists.
As the minimum wages (in the budget) had been fixed at Rs 20,000, the media organizations should also raise the salaries of their workers accordingly, he added.
With regard to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Fawad said its leadership had realized that the party had no political future, therefore they had resorted to “antagonistic politics”. They were opposing each and every step of the government without any sound reasoning. They had rejected the right of vote to overseas Pakistanis, use of electronic voting machines and other people friendly measures.
He said the PML-N leaders had “undermined” the vital role of overseas Pakistanis in the country's development and financial stability.
To a question, Fawad said the Federal Government was fully committed to carrying forward the Green Line Project, but the provincial departments were not cooperating in that regard. Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Federal Minister Asad Umar were fully committed to resolving the transport issues of mega city, but the Sindh government's reluctance was a hurdle.
To another query, he said the Sindh government had demanded more funds. The funds allocated by the Centre in the past for specific purpose were not utilized, “rather the same were transferred to foreign bank accounts.”
“We want to spend funds for the betterment of public,” he said.
Responding to a question on the performance of state-owned entities, the minister said the PPP's last government had destroyed public institutions by large scale induction of employees and mismanagement, but the PTI government was now taking remedial measures to save them.
The incumbent government had appointed heads of 60 of entities purely on merit, whose performance was improving, he added.
As regards distribution of irrigation water, Fawad said the Indus River System Authority was releasing water to Sindh as per its share. He added: “Punjab is not taking water from Sindh’s share,” he said, accusing PPP leaders of “usurping” and “stealing” the water of farmers and growers.
He said the Federation had suggested Sindh to appoint impartial observers on entry points but Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had not accepted the proposal “as it would expose their water theft”.
The minister alleged that the Sindh government was not ready to provide Health Card facility to people of the province.