RAWALPINDI: In an unusual show of unity, all union council chairmen belonging to the treasury PML-N, opposition PPP and PTI benches in the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) on Thursday rejected the proposed local government system of the PTI government for Punjab.

They warned that 58,000 elected members in the province would stage protests if the new system was imposed.

All members passed a resolution at a session of the RMC held in Jinnah Hall with Mayor Sardar Naseem in the chair. The session was held to discuss the fate of the present local government system and approve development works.

Threaten protest across Punjab if govt imposed a new local government system

The resolution presented by Mayor Naseem said despite making tall claims the PTI government at the centre and in Punjab had failed to bring any significant change to the proposed local government system.

“The government wants to bring new people in the local government and is creating hurdles for the elected elected members to complete their term. For the last nine months, Punjab government has imposed a ban on development works and provided money only to the treasury benches of Punjab Assembly which is a clear violation of Supreme Court orders to empower local governments,” said the resolution.It said the local government elections 2015 were held on the directives of the apex court and under the law the elected members would complete their term by 2021. He said the Punjab government had stopped the mayors and chairmen from performing their constitutional duties for the last nine months.

The mayor asked the elected members to stand up so the government would respect people’s mandate given to the local government members.

He said the current local government system was good and problems of the citizens had been solved through it for the last three years. But the local government representatives are sitting idle for the last nine months as the Punjab government has snatched their powers and given it to the bureaucracy and non-elected people belonging to the ruling party.

He said the elected government should not use such undemocratic tactics to destabilise the local government system. The mayor said the country was facing a serious law and order problem so the federal government should stop imposing such system which had failed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

All members of the treasury and opposition benches agreed and gave approval to the resolution and asked the mayor to lock the RMC offices if the provincial government failed to release the development funds generated by the civic body.

PTI Union Council Chairman Azhar Iqbal Satti and PPP’s Anjum Farooq Paracha unconditionally supported Mayor Naseem to make any decision to launch an agitation.

They said the government should not change the system and wait for the next local government elections. They said people had elected them for five years and the term would be completed in next two years.

The PML-N has majority in the RMC with its 40 elected members while PPP and PTI have six members.

All members are not in a mood to accept the new local government system. After the session, they gathered at the mayor’s office to express solidarity with him.

The house also approved the proceedings to rent out RMC’s old offices to a private firm. The RMC conducted an auction and selected a private firm for Rs1.6 million rent per year.

The members also approved allocation of Rs120 million for the pension of the former employees of the civic body from the development fund. They gave the go-ahead signal to allocate Rs4 million for anti-dengue drive, Rs4 million for procurement of an executor to launch an anti-encroachment drive, Rs2 million for repair and maintenance of roads and Rs1.5 million for salaries of security guards at Pirwadhai general bus stand.

The house also decided to form a six-member committee to improve the condition of the bus stand.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2019