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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 282, 28 January 2022

Sindh in 2022: Three issues to look for



Provincial politics, federal-provincial differences and economic woes will dominate the province in 2022

Abigail Miriam Fernandez

Sindh, the third-largest province in Pakistan has several issues to deal with in 2022. Currently, the province is ruled by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP); in the 2018 elections, it secured 97 seats in the provincial assembly, followed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (30 seats), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (14 seats), Grand Democratic Alliance (14 seats), Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan ( two seats) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) ( one seat).

The above political equation will determing Sindh politics in 2022,  especially over Karachi.
Three issues to look for in Sindh in 2022

1. Provincial Politics: The PPP vs the opposition
The preparations for the upcoming local government elections are already in full swing in the Sindh. With the polls scheduled in February/March, political parties are strategizing with and against each other to secure their position.

The local government elections 2022 are significant for the following reasons. First, the controversial Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2021. While the PPP appears confident about the legislation, opposition parties in Sindh have been protesting over it claiming that it has stripped the local body representatives of key administrative and financial powers. Thus, an issue concerning the legislation. Second, the politics between parties.

The PPP is confident about its success in the local government elections. However, the opposition in the recent weeks has gathered against the PPP government. The PTI and MQM-P have joined hands along with the GDA and the JI and have launched protests against the PPP. However, these alliances are fragile and may not be enough to tackle the PPP given its expanse in the province.

Finally, the politics in Karachi. Except for the PPP, no other party has made substantial inroads into the province, rather they seem to be limited to Karachi. This, in turn, gives PPP a better chance at securing power in the province. 
 

2. Federal-Provincial Differences: The blame game will continue

The relationship between the federation and province has not been smooth. PTI and PPP are rival parties both at the federal and provincal levels.

Some of the basic differences between the federation and province include: the islands issue, in which the federal government wants to develop two islands off the coast of Sindh through bringing in foreign investment, but the Sindh government is against; the Karachi package which due to the lack of coordination has not been implemented properly; the issue of ownership of some hospitals and among other. There have been efforts taken by both sides to patch the relation, such as Prime Minister Imran Khan offering an olive branch to the Sindh government, urging Sindh to work with the federal government for the upliftment of Karachi. Similarly, President Arif Alvi also met Governor Imran Ismail where he stressed the need for dialogue to resolve Sindh’s issues.

In 2022, the differences will continue, given the bitter resentment and mistrust that exist between the powers that are ruling in the centre and province. Thus, the deep political polarization will be seen in 2022 as well. Abigail: Make a note on the firthcoming election in 2023, and how the PTI and PPP would be in opposite camps, and how that would shape the federal-provincial relations this year.


3. Economic Woes: Stagnant and regressive economy
Sindh’s economy has remained stagnant when compared to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa especially in certain key areas. This has been seen in several reports including the Sindh Growth Strategy by the World Bank which showed that the per capita income of the province has been declining over time. Additionally, rural Sindh in particular has witnessed negative growth while urban Sindh has seen positive growth. Additionally, the pandemic has had an impact on the province’s economy. Additionally, the slow and insufficient federal transfer of funds to Sindh has disrupted the provincial government’s plans for development. Thus, in 2022, Sindh would continue the same path because there are likely to be any major efforts that could help revive the economy.

In conclusion, Sindh in 2022 would remain in the hands of the PPP despite the opposition’s efforts. The PPP would secure its hold both at the province and particular in Karachi. On the other hand, the opposition in the province would concentrate on asserting their influence in Karachi rather than the entire province.

The affairs for the province thus would revolve around the PPP’s plans and strategies, how much they are willing to revive Sindh is yet to be seen. For Karachi, given the politics at play, tensions are likely to rise with each picking sides with a larger game plan in mind. 

Reference
Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, “The Sindh-centre strain,” Dawn, 18 December 2021
Centre-Sindh ties,” Dawn, 26 April 2021
“Sindh-centre ties,” The News International, 9 June 2021
Centre-Sindh sparring,” Dawn, 12 December 2021
Sohail Sangi, “Behind the progressive facade: PPP’s tactics to maintain dominance in Sindh,” Dawn, 19 February 2019
Dr Moonis Ahmar, “Sindh’s endless predicament,” The Express Tribune, 12 December 2021
Sheharyar Ali, “The curious case of Sindh’s LG law,” The News International, 7 January 2022
PPP bags most of the reserved seats in new Sindh Assembly,” The News International, 13 August 2018
Local power,” The News International, 25 January 2022
LG issues,” The News International, 25 January 2022
Sindh LG Act: Opposition parties slam PPP govt over ‘black law’ The Express Tribune, 15 January 2022
‘Sindh LG polls likely in Feb or March next year’ The News International, 27 December 2021
Sindh LG bill: PTI, MQM and GDA to jointly protest today,” The News International, 15 January 2022
Sindh’s economy - challenges and solutions,” The Express Tribune, 9 September 2019

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