PESHAWAR: The provincial government has divided seven tribal districts of the erstwhile Fata into 702 village and neighbourhood councils to introduce the three-tier local government system there.
Sources said that division of tribal districts into village and neighbourhood councils was a prerequisite exercise for the implementation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act, 2013.
According to the government system, which has been functional in the province since 2015, the village and neighbourhood council is the lowest tier among the district and tehsil tiers.
Elections for local govts in erstwhile Fata to be held after amending law
According to the preliminary report, the seven tribal districts consist of 702 councils including 628 village and 74 neighbourhood councils.
Under the local government system, the rural areas are divided into village councils while the urban areas into the neighbourhood councils.
Prior to local bodies’ elections in 2015, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was divided into 3,501 village and neighbourhood councils. Under the law, the elections for district and tehsil councils were held on party basis while elections for the village and neighbourhood councils were conducted on non-party basis.
Sources said that the erstwhile Fata had already been divided into 296 union councils decades ago but no local bodies’ elections were held there in the real sense.
“With the implementation of the KP local government system, these union councils will be called wards under the law,” they added.
The Khyber tribal district is on top in the list with 147 councils including 130 village and 17 neighbourhood councils while Orakzai is on the bottom with 46 councils including 42 village and four neighbourhood councils.
Bajaur tribal district has a total of 127 councils including 120 village and seven neighbourhood councils while South Waziristan has been divided into 97 councils — 82 village and 15 neighbourhood councils.
North Waziristan tribal district has 81 councils including 75 village and six neighbourhood councils while Kurram tribal district also has 81 councils — 67 village and 14 neighbourhood councils.
Mohmand tribal district consists of 65 councils with 58 village and seven neighbourhood councils.
Similarly, the erstwhile frontier regions (FRs), which have been merged with the adjacent districts of the province, have also been divided into village and neighbourhood councils.
According to the data, the erstwhile FR Kohat has been divided into 16 councils including 13 village and three neighbourhood councils and FR Dera Ismail Khan into 12 councils — 11 village and one neighbourhood councils.
The erstwhile FR Peshawar has 11 village councils, FR Tank has eight village councils, FR Bannu has six and FR Lakki Marwat has five councils while none of. these erstwhile frontier regions (FRs) has any neighbourhood council.
According to the existing KP local government system, the minimum population of a village or neighbourhood council should be 2,000 while its maximum population is 10, 000.
However, the number of population has increased as noticed in the latest census held in 2017. So, the provincial local government department has proposed to increase the minimum population of the village and neighbourhood councils from 2,000 to 5,000 and maximum from 10, 000 to 15, 000.
It is worth mentioning that two months ago, the provincial government has decided to abolish the district council and retain the tehsil and village and neighbourhood councils. It has also decided to shift the district government’s responsibilities to the tehsil government.
The provincial government has been working on amending the local government law for the implementation of the local government system in the tribal districts, abolishing of district council and making other changes.
“Discussions and meetings regarding the changes in the current local government system have been underway for the last two months. Once the required amendments are incorporated in the law, the local bodies elections would be held in the tribal districts,” said sources.
Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2018