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PM’s Karachi visit

The prime minister was in Karachi on the eve the Sindh government passed the annual budget for the province. Conspicuously missing from the prime minister’s visit was a meeting with Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah leading to detractors terming the much-delayed visit as a political tour.
Relations appear frosty with the two leaders after the chief minister was silenced during a recent NEC meeting and Sindh’s share of funds was reduced under the new NFC disbursements. The federal government has pledged billions for development projects in Karachi. These will be undertaken by a newly-formed company managed directly by the Centre; receiving sharp criticism from the Sindh government that development projects remain the prerogative of the provinces.
The prime minister camped at the Governor House meeting PTI allies and party workers. He then went on quick tour of Larkana to visit an Ehsaas centre; another issue of friction for having renamed the BISP. This isn’t the first time the chief minister has been shunned during the premier’s visit. Many federally-funded projects remained unfinished due to political tussle between the two sides.
In Islamabad, PPP Chairman Bilawal strongly criticised the federal budget 2020-21 stating that PTI forgot the nation was passing through a pandemic. The PPP wants an uptick in health expenditures, which remains a provincial subject, alluding that the budget was prepared by the IMF. Many were expecting a raise in salaries and pensions in the federal budget which were not provided. The Sindh government, however, gave a 10 percent raise in salaries in the provincial budget.
The politicking continues between both sides even amidst a pandemic. Many of the issues relates to the 18th Amendment which the prime minister hinted needs to be reviewed. The PTI government also wants to bring a new local government system claiming it will be the best in the world. This includes having direct elections for the mayor.
The prime minister said provincial chiefs have “powers like dictators” that need to be devolved to the third tier of government. He believes that over-third of resources are handed over to the provinces and very less remains for vital issues such as defence and debt servicing. This is ironic as the government wants to take power from provinces but also wants to see them devolve to lower levels.
Amid all this political maneuvering, the public is the most affected amid a pandemic and an economic crisis. The people need immediate relief as compared to long-term strategies which requieres more unity and coordination among all sides.
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