ISLAMABAD, Aug 25: Islamabad will have a metropolitan corporation, comprising members directly elected from “wards” and headed by a mayor, according to the draft of the ICT Local Government Act 2013.
The draft was approved by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan after receiving a briefing from Chief Commissioner Jawad Paul on Sunday. The minister directed the officials concerned to forward the document to the federal cabinet for a formal approval.
Sources in the ministry said the new local government Act had been prepared to bridge the rural-urban divide and enforce a single-tier system based on wards. The draft has also suggested setting up of a local government commission to oversee the functions and performance of the corporation.
The minister had convened the meeting to review the current security situation with particular focus on the recent incident in which a gunman spread chaos in the capital city.
A spokesman for the police said a new security plan would be implemented in the capital from Monday (today) making pickets effective and increasing intelligence level.
Soon after the meeting, the inspector general of police (IGP) replaced as many as 550 police officials posted at 60 pickets with the young and well-trained policemen. The newly-posted policemen are aged below 30 years and they will be imparted commando training.
The sources said the draft Act was prepared in the light of the Supreme Court’s July 17 observations regarding the LG system in Islamabad. After receiving a commitment from the federal government to hold the local government elections in all the cantonment areas by September 15, the apex court had expressed the desire that the four provincial governments as well as the Islamabad capital territory administration also consider conducting a similar exercise on the same date or with a slight change of time.
Except for Sindh, the remaining three provincial governments as well as the ICT representatives had assured the court of their willingness to hold the elections.
Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sajid Ilyas Bhatti, representing the ICT administration, had submitted a statement to hold the elections in the rural areas of the capital city under the Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance 1979. But the chief justice directed him to ensure elections both in the rural as well as urban areas of Islamabad without any distinction.
The sources said the draft Act had no mention of the total number of wards in Islamabad and members of the corporation as the issue had been left on the federal government to decide. At present, there are 12 union councils in Islamabad’s rural areas but all of them have been non-functional for the past over two decades due to the failure of the authorities to hold elections.
Under the proposed Act, the capital will also have two or three deputy mayors depending on the number of wards and members of the metropolitan corporation.
The corporation, to be named as Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation or Capital Metropolitan Corporation, will also have reserved seats for women, workers and minorities who will be elected indirectly. The corporation will have the powers to impose taxes and generate its funds. It will also have the powers to control and regulate municipal laws with the help of inspectors and wardens.
These inspectors will have the powers to impose fine on the violators of the municipal by-laws, but only through the judicial magistrates.
The draft law also suggests setting up of an independent LG commission to oversee the affairs and working of the metropolitan corporation. The commission will comprise seven to eight members having good reputation in their respective fields to be appointed by the government. The members of the commission will be technocrats, civil society representatives and from the parliament.
When contacted, an official of the interior ministry said there was no plan to abolish the Capital Development Authority (CDA) which would continue functioning even after the setting up of the metropolitan corporation. However, its municipal functions will be transferred to the proposed corporation and rest of its operations, including planning of the city and its development, will continue.
While reviewing the security situation, the interior minister focused on the lessons learnt from the Jinnah Avenue stand-off and emphasised ground improvements by the police, adds Mohammad Asghar and Ikram Junaidi.
The minister advised the officials to implement an integrated communication system and clearly define standard operating procedures (SOPs) within a week.
Chaudhry Nisar called for improving pickets and checkpoints, reduction in working hours from 12 to six hours, better discipline and alertness and enhanced level of security. He also issued directives for SP level coordination at sensitive checkpoints.
He assured the officials of full monetary support and facilitation on essential technical requirements of the police.
The minister also directed setting up of a well-trained “Fast Response Force” with the ability to immediately respond to security situations, comprising highly trained marksmen and possessing right technical skills and training.
He also desired reactivation of the National Crisis Management Cell on a priority basis.
After attending the meeting with the minister, the IGP presided over another meeting with his officers, reviewed the security plan and took initiatives to replace the aged policemen posted at 60 pickets with the young and educated personnel.
In addition to the replacement of policemen deployed at the pickets, the Muharars of all the police stations are also being replaced with well-educated and young police officials to change the “Thana culture” and facilitate the victims of crime.
A police official told Dawn that the officials posted to the pickets would be replaced after every three months. “They will have special training in sniper shooting besides detecting and checking suspicious vehicles.
The personnel will be connected to the national database of vehicles, Nadra and mobiles through Islamabad police’s main server and special cellphones will be provided to them within seven days,” he said.
SSP Islamabad Dr Rizwan said the technology would be used for the first time in Pakistan and it would ensure safety of citizens.