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Centre floats name of ex-federal secretary to run Karachi


ISLAMABAD:

With the four-year term of Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhar set to end this month, the federal government has proposed the name of a former federal secretary to take over as the city’s administrator until the local government elections.

Federal government sources told The Express Tribune that an ex-secretary, who had sought premature retirement, has been recommended for the post.

However, the Sindh government has yet to respond to the proposed name.

There are also reports that the provincial government is also considering different names for the post. Senior PPP leader Taj Haider is among them.

The federal government wants to appoint a neutral and independent administrator for the city.

Under the law an administrator can work for 120 days but his tenure may be extended till the provincial government enacts a new legislation for the local governments.

The federal government also wants that a powerful local government system introduced in Karachi as the incumbent one in the country’s commercial hub does not give any meaningful powers to the mayor.

It is expected that next month, the Supreme Court would take up a constitutional petition filed by the PTI seeking directions for the devolution of powers to local government institutions to fulfill the requirements of Article 140-A of the Constitution as well as Articles 3, 4, 9, 14, 16, 17,19, 19A and 25.

The party has challenged the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA) adopted by the Sindh Assembly.

The petition stated that Karachi was the largest city of Pakistan having a population of more than 16 million (as per 2017 Census) and people from all over the country came to the metropolis seeking employment or for other reasons.

“The ground reality is that the city of lights remains deprived of basic facilities and is plagued with several problems of serious kinds, majority of which remained unresolved for the past many years,” the petition read.

“The municipal services are non-existent, there are broken roads, severe water crisis, appalling sewerage systems, heaps of garbage are everywhere while leading to ill health, diarrhea and various life threatening diseases, health department and government hospitals are in a pathetic state, medical facilities are not available, education is not being provided, schools are non-existent and the living conditions are pathetic, unhygienic and inhumane.”

The party argued that the main reason for this was that local body institutions had not been allowed to be established and the principle of Article 140-A of the Constitution, in which political, administrative and financial powers were to be devolved upon local bodies, was not being implemented.

“As a result, the lives of millions of people of Karachi and other areas of Sindh are being threatened. To ensure a local body system in letter and spirit of Article 140-A for solving these problems, is therefore the fundamental right of the people of Karachi, and in fact the entire Sindh, guaranteed under Articles 4, 9, 15, 18, 23, 24 and 25A of the Constitution.”

The party prayed the court to issue directions to the Sindh government to provide the funds to the local bodies of Karachi to effectively carry out its local body obligations for local governance and make the cities of Sindh, including Karachi, a better and more livable place while, at the same time, declaring the provisions of the laws which are contrary to Article 140-A of the Constitution as being without jurisdiction.

It is also pleaded that the provincial government be directed to release all the dues to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation including the release of its share of Octroi Zila Tax (OZT) along with markup and additional markup.



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