Enforcement of Article 149 will strengthen local government system: law minister – Pakistan

Federal Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem on Saturday said that the enforcement of Article 149 of the Constitution will only empower and strengthen the local government systems in place across various provinces and is not a matter to be considered controversial in any way.

His remarks came during a press conference in Islamabad during which he was flanked by the government’s chief spokesperson, Firdous Ashiq Awan, and other officials.

“First, I would advise everyone to read Article 149(4) of the Constitution. There is nothing controversial in it except the provision to empower a local government, and there is a mechanism to dovetail it with Article 140A,” said the law minister.

“And it won’t be for Karachi alone; if the recommendation made by the federation proves successful, it will light the way for other cities of Sindh, Punjab, KPK and Balochistan,” said Naseem.

He explained that “if the local government of Kandiaro, Diplo, or Dadu is empowered, it is neither the PTI nor the MQM that benefits. It is advantageous to their own local government which is in place there and I am fighting their case.”

The law minister also clarified that the enforcement of Article 149 is not meant to create any divide between Karachi and Sindh.

“We ourselves have avowed not to let Karachi segregate from the rest of the province,” said Naseem while responding to a question.

“The [strategic] committee has to iron out the issues relating to Article 149,” he continued before telling reporters: “I am ready to respond to your questions on this subject again, whenever you say.”

On Wednesday, Naseem had told Dawn that a strategic committee on Karachi was going to recommend to Prime Minister Imran Khan that he invoke Article 149 for the uplift of Karachi.

Reacting to the law minister’s statement, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had accused the Centre of “trying to occupy Karachi” with the move.

The minister during his presser today revealed that under new laws to be introduced by the government, those involved in the embezzlement of Rs500 million or above in National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases will be assigned “C” class in jail.

Naseem also said the government is going to institute a law relating to the immovable properties of overseas Pakistanis.

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