ISLAMABAD, June 30: President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Thursday said the changes in local government laws have been enacted to make the system more efficient. He described the introduction of democracy at the grass-roots level as a proud achievement on which he would never compromise.
“The local government laws have not been changed so as to betray the principles behind their enactment, nor have I ‘surrendered’ to reactionary forces and surrender has never been part of my personality,” he emphasized.
The president was commenting on e-mails received at his official website — www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk — regarding recent changes in the local government system and the timing of the local government polls.
He claimed that the government introduced democracy at the grass-roots level. “This is an achievement of which I am immensely proud and one which I would never compromise.”
However, he added, what needed to be remembered though was that every political system ultimately belonged to the people.
“The current local government system is not simply ‘my’ system; it belongs to the people of Pakistan. If the system is to take root and flourish then the people must be allowed the right to change and modify it in the manner that they see fit.”
No system, he underscored, could be static.
Instead, it should respond at all times to the needs of people and the demands of the hour, he added.
The local government system has had many successes, he said, but pointed out there were also areas in which it required improvement. For example, when the system was initiated, it was found that there were genuine problems in reconciling the roles of the district governments and the provincial governments, he said.
The key issue was the relationship between the district nazim and the chief minister, which was becoming unnecessarily adversarial. “Such disputes were affecting the resolution of the common man’s issues and the delivery of services to the people,” the president said.
The government, therefore, felt that it was necessary to provide a more balanced approach with respect to the division of powers between the district nazim and the chief minister, he added.
Sharing his view on the amendments, President Musharraf said they provided for the consolidation of the local governments in the light of the difficulties faced in their functioning.
The amendments aimed at empowering the local government by vesting the authority for efficiency and discipline of the officials at the local level, he said. Earlier it used to be vested in the provincial government.
Secondly, to end the friction over control of officials in the local government, the district service and the tehsil administrative service would be created later this year, he said.
Thirdly, he added, the provincial government departments would be restructured to shed executive powers that have been devolved and perform only regulatory functions such as setting and maintaining standards, making rules, special audits and periodic inspections, coordination and legislation.—APP