by Shahnilla Fayaz
Sindh and federation have governments of two different political parties, and their political interests are also different. The differences between them over the distribution of funds in the national budget and the manner in which they are presented are not a good omen in the interest of national unity. The distribution of funds issue has two aspects, one is related to National Finance Commission and other is allocation of development budget.
Moreover the ruling party in Sindh -Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is also major party of opposition in Parliament as well as outside Parliament
Presently the aspect of allocation of funds for development is the point. By the way, there had been a tussle between the Center and the provinces in the matter of funds in past, but on Sunday, the Chief Minister of Sindh revealed at a ceremony that he had written a letter to the federal government in this regard, was replied coldly. As if he was speaking to the deaf, he pointed out a situation that requires deep reflection. Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has said that in the last seven years, the federal government has not given any development scheme for Sindh.
It seems that apart from PTI, the PML-N federal government has also done nothing for Sindh. Hence, this issue becomes a federal issue against Sindh, which is a sensitive issue of national unity. Murad Ali Shah complained that Sindh was being discriminated, he said that we are happy with the development of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan but why Sindh is being discriminated. When there was no water in Sindh, I took the issue to the provincial assembly.
Sindh has also concerns about the results of 2017 census and the ways these results were approved.
All parties agreed that Sindh was being ill-treated, but the federal government, on the other hand, alleged that Sindh was getting enough water, which was being stolen.
The Council of Common Interests also exists to meet the demands of justice. Even after this, if there is any ambiguity, there is a parliamentary forum.
In response to the Chief Minister’s claims, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar retaliated in a briefing and said that the PPP was playing the card of nationalism. We can’t afford to build properties. We have allocated 32% more for Sindh projects in 3 years than in the past.
In the next budget, the Prime Minister has set historic plans of Rs 300 billion. Asad Umar recounted many works for which the federal government was spending funds in Sindh and said that PTI spent so many funds in Sindh which is unprecedented in the history of the country. Regardless of the facts, politics is unfortunately more driven in this Sindh vs. Federal debate.
The PTI and its allies are in power in the Islamabad, while the PPP is in power in Sindh. Both are playing their cards to humiliate each other on political grounds. Meanwhile, the National Economic Council meeting held on Monday to consider a development budget of Rs 2.135 trillion for the financial year 2021-22. This huge amount is to be spent on the development of the federation and the provinces and is 61% more than the current year. The National Economic Council is the country’s largest constitutional body that makes economic decisions.
It was chaired by the Prime Minister and is attended by the Chief Ministers of the four provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan and the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir. The meeting was proper forum to debate equitable distribution of development funds.
The Council of Common Interests also exists to meet the demands of justice. Even after this, if there is any ambiguity, there is a parliamentary forum. There should be a serious discussion on controversial issues and decisions should be taken by consensus in the national interest.
The Sindh government also wrote letters to chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly to summon joint session of Parliament to consider the reservations of Sindh about census results. This move seems to be positive, which can be considered seriously. At the same time this can be adapted for other controversial issues being debated by the two sides publically.
The same procedure should be followed in the case of Sindh Federation and instead of scoring points, the most appropriate steps should be taken keeping in view the promotion of national unity and constitutional requirements.