Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. — File photo
LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved a draft of law for the proposed local government system for Punjab.
However, the opposition strongly reacted to the move and said any approval was the prerogative of the Punjab assembly.
A PML-N leader said on Saturday the prime minister had approved the draft law in his capacity as chief of the ruling party.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah briefed the prime minister on the proposed law.
On the occasion, Prime Minister Sharif said resolution of issues at the local level should be encouraged. “We will strengthen democracy by empowering local body institutions. Education and health will be given extra importance,” he said.
According to sources, the draft suggests holding of local body elections on non-party basis and the minimum age of candidates is proposed to be 25 years.
PML-N legislator Rana Arshad, who is a member of the special committee that drafted the bill, confirmed that the prime minister had approved it.
When asked if the elections would be held on party basis, Mr Arshad said: “The Punjab assembly will decide about this.”
On the other hand, PPP parliamentary leader in Punjab assembly Qazi Ahmed Saeed said the prime minister could not approve the draft as this was the prerogative of the provincial assembly.
“The premier can only be briefed about it by his party’s members.”
He said the committee’s head, Rana Sanaullah, had not bothered to show the opposition leaders the draft approved by the premier.
He said the opposition would go to the court if its three basic demands — holding of local body elections on party basis, giving financial and administrative powers to the head of the local body at the district level and authorising the house to remove the head — were not accepted.
Mr Saeed said the way the treasury members had approved the draft of the bill showed the PML-N would resort to a solo flight in the assembly to get it approved.