Editorial : `Karachi province` - Tuesday 26th April 2011

PUNJAB Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif`s call for a `Karachi province`, which he now claims was merely a `question mark`, has been rejected by all major stakeholders in Sindh and for all the right reasons. The MQM, the leading force in urban Sindh politics, has opposed the proposal in outright fashion and in a timely manner. The key here is indeed the timing: any hesitation from the party that secures the most votes in Karachi may have sent a signal that it is pondering the viability of such a drastic move. Instead, the MQM was quick to dismiss the notion within a few hours of Mr Sharif`s pronouncement in Dera Ghazi Khan. What this decision averted was even more turbulence in an already volatile city that has seen its unfair share of political and ethnic unrest. The other two major players in Sindh, the PPP and the newly energetic ANP, were equally adamant in their criticism of the Punjab chief minister`s statement which appears to be an exercise in scoring points more than anything else. The PML-N knows that a Seraiki province will loosen its hold on national politics. And the PPP is well aware that its Sindh constituency is largely rural-based and it cannot afford any divisions in the province. The ANP, for its part, is still finding its feet in Karachi — fairly successfully for that matter — and is an urban party that is expected to oppose any regional demarcations. Indeed, it has already done so.
Let`s talk about Punjab here. The demand there for a Seraiki province has existed for as long as most people can remember. It is nothing new and that is an area on which the Punjab chief minister should focus. In sharp contrast, there is no such popular call in Karachi or other parts of Sindh. Mr Sharif would also do well to remember that his party, the PML-N, has no real mandate in Sindh. He is the elected chief minister of the country`s largest province and must face a host of challenges. Perhaps it would be better if he tackled those instead of addressing issues that are clearly out of his domain.
If such a statement was to be made, it should have come from the national leader of the PML-N, Nawaz Sharif, not the chief minister of another province. Moreover, a pronouncement like this should have been made during a visit to Sindh, not in Dera Ghazi Khan. Shahbaz Sharif is in the habit of denying controversial statements. He should concentrate on Punjab, not Sindh.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/26/karachi-province.html

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