Sindh Governor Eshratul Ebad’s promulgation on Thursday night of the Peoples Local Government Ordinance 2012 marked the end of a long drawn-out debate between the PPP and its junior partner, the MQM, over the shape of the local bodies in Sindh. The new ordinance not only allows the MQM to take control of divisional headquarters, it also opens the way for local council elections in the province, and potentially in the country as a whole by pushing the other provinces to adopt their own local body laws, thus preparing for fresh local council elections. Such local council elections must not be allowed to lead to any delay in the holding of the general elections due in less than a year. It should also be noted that the new ordinance establishes local bodies which neither retain the Musharraf-era reforms, nor revert to the prior system, but are a mixture of both. It seems the old local councils are being revived, but the police and revenue departments will be under the local council heads, designated as mayors in the divisional cities of Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana and Mirpur Khas. An immediate consequence has been the alienation of PPP’s other allies. The ANP in particular was so much upset that its sole Sindh minister resigned, and it announced it would boycott Parliament if the ordinance was not withdrawn. There has not been any threat mentioned by it to the KPK provincial government, where the ANP heads the coalition, though that cannot be ruled out. This must be seen within the context of its struggle with the MQM in Karachi, which has seen the PPP also involved in a three-way battle in the city. Other PPP allies, the NPP and the PML-F, also rejected the ordinance. Meanwhile, PML-N Punjab President and Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif has said that he would consult the party cadres before deciding to hold local body polls. His province too has not held local body polls, nor has it promulgated legislation revising the previous law. His criticism of the President for only thinking of LB polls now that general elections were approaching indicated a suspicion, that they would be held only to justify the postponement of general elections. That would be done so that the present assemblies remain in office long enough to re-elect him. Thus the provinces must point out that the provincial autonomy given by the 18th Amendment not only enables different systems of local bodies, but elections at different times.