Karachi: Legislators of Sindh province assembly on Monday approved a new municipal law with a thumping majority while a opposition members tore up copies of the bill and chanted slogans against the legislation.

Nationalist parties which do not have representation in the parliament chose to stage a strike and close down businesses in several cities of the upper province except for Karachi.

The new municipal la which paves the way trickling down of power to the grass roots level was earlier promulgated as an ordinance by the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government with Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) amid opposition of some of the co-allies.

The coalition of PPP and MQM also came under stress after the pressure mounted on the ruling PPP leadership from within their own constituencies. The alliance was on the verge of collapse when President Asif Ali Zardari took up the matter and ensured MQM’s smooth sailing with regard to the bill.

The new Sindh Peoples Local Body bill was tabled by provincial law minister Ayaz Soomro which was approved with 149 votes in its favour and a mere 18 votes against the bill.

The legislators of the Muslim League Functional Awami National Party, National Peoples Party, and another faction of the League tore the draft copies of the bill in front of the speaker of the assembly. They all had black armbands arms to express their opposition to the new law.

All the parties were part of the ruling alliance but in protest against the new law they demanded allocation of opposition benches to them.

Faisal Sabzwari, an MQM parliamentarian, in a press conference outside the assembly, shrugged off the opposition to the bill saying it should have been discussed and debated by its opponents instead of acting undemocratically.

“They should have come up with amendments if they had any objection regarding any clause of the bill instead of violating parliamentarian values,” Sabzwari told media.

Sindhi nationalists parties observed a strike in different cities of interior Sindh to express their protest against the new law which, they alleged, would broaden the rift between urban and rural Sindh, saying it was a conspiracy to divide the province.

Dadu, Nowshero Feroze, Larkana, Sukkur, Ghotki, Hyderabad and some other towns remained completely or partially closed.

The security around the provincial assembly was also tightened by deploying water cannons, armoured personnel cars and shipping containers to prevent any march of protestors against the new law.