KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said the federal government had “behaved democratically” during the first year and a half of its tenure but later “unleashed a policy of confrontation and political victimisation” against its opponents.
“They [have] started harassing our ministers, officers and elected representatives without solid or tangible evidence,” he said.
The CM was speaking to media personnel and delegates of the Chinese Medical Association (CMA) at a reception hosted by him at the CM House after the conclusion of the three-day Pakistan-China Medical Congress (MedCong) on Sunday. The congress was organised by the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA).
Mr Shah said China had expertise in manufacturing medicines and their raw material, while Pakistan, especially doctors in Sindh were experts in surgery.
“We can take advantage from each other’s expertise. The visit of the CMA delegates is a milestone in the creation of a medical corridor along with the on-going economic corridor,” he said.
He spoke extensively of political issues his government and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was confronted with in the province.
The CM said the federal government which had worked in a democratic fashion initially and given space to provincial governments to freely implement their policies and manifestos had unfortunately started a policy of victimisation. He added that no evidence of corruption had been found, and whatever action was being taken against PPP stalwarts was akin to harassment.
Referring to MNA Mir Munawar Talpur, Mr Shah said the MNA had never been in any government office during both the tenures of the PPP government – federal and provincial combined. But even then a reference had been filed against him.
“He is an extremely polite person and mostly lives in his village to serve his people, yet a baseless case has been brought against him,” he said.
However, the CM thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for inviting him along with his delegation to Islamabad, listening to him patiently and almost agreeing to his argument.
He revealed that assurances had been made by the PM that the interior minister Chaudhry Nisar would visit within a week and address all grievances, but they were still waiting for him.
Mr Shah said that the new National Finance Commission award in which multiple criteria was accepted was among his great feats.
“I convinced the PM and others that sales tax on services was a provincial subject and the provincial government should be allowed to collect it on its own,” he said.
The CM added that the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) stands out as a great revenue collecting organisation among its peers and had collected Rs60 billion last year and would collect Rs70 billion this fiscal year.
He also said that he helped restored law and order in the province with the joint efforts and sacrifices of the police and Rangers.
“We have created more than 150,000 job opportunities, developed a road network across Sindh, established nine universities, introduced a public-private partnership concept and launched mega projects; we are also going to celebrate the Engro coal-fired power plant in Sindh.”
In reply to a question about the recently formed opposition parties’ alliance, Mr Shah said it was not a new thing as similar alliances had been formed against the PPP and its governments in the past and simultaneously rejected by the people.
However, he said he was not expecting such a move from Pir Pagara: “He calls me uncle and then leads such an alliance and without any solid argument criticises my government.”
He added that Arbab Ghulam Rahim, a former chief minister from Thar, did nothing for poverty alleviation in his area even during the worst drought. And while giving out subsidised wheat to people of the area, Mr Rahim discriminated against the Hindu population.
He said an assembly member could be unseated for abstaining for 40 days from the house, yet the PPP accommodated Mr Rahim and kept granting him leave which the latter forgot conveniently.
Referring to the allegation by Waseem Akhtar, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement nominee for the Karachi mayor, that the Sindh government had sent Karachi’s funds to Dubai, Mr Shah called it an “absurd utterance”.
“If I would retaliate against it in the same coin, he would not be able to answer. His statement is baseless … we have served Karachi and its people selflessly,” he said.
He said the Sindh government was paying salaries to the employees of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) who were appointed by the MQM.
“We have constructed flyovers in Karachi, we are paying the electricity bills of KWSB and we have always been financially supporting the local bodies of the city without any discrimination.”
He said that at present development work costing more than Rs42 billion was under way in Karachi.