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LAHORE: Terming the April 23 FIR as false and baseless, Lord Mayor retired Col Mubashir Javed says he will not apply for bail since the protest by the elected chairmen, vice chairmen, councillors and members of the local bodies’ institutions was within the ambit of democratic and constitutional limits.

“This FIR is false and baseless as I neither carried a speaker, nor set anything on fire. They (the PTI government) has become blind actually (in its desire) to crush PML-N by hook or crook. But their dream will never be fulfilled since everyone knows that how and why they are doing this,” he told Dawn on Thursday.

“I clearly term the FIR false and baseless. Why should I apply for a bail? So if they have courage, they get me arrested,” he added.

An FIR was registered by Lahore police against more than 100 people, including the Lahore mayor, for protesting against the PTI government’s local government bill. The PML-N sees the move as a ploy to remove the party representatives occupying the lowest tier of the government at divisional, district and tehsil levels. Though the PTI-led Punjab government has been trying to oust the local bodies representatives from the day it came into power, it delayed the process owing to political reasons, the PML-N leaders believe.

“The PTI is making all out efforts to undermine the PML-N through such tactics. But the PTI must remember that we will not allow it to do so,” the mayor warned. He said the new LG bill tabled by the PTI in the Punjab Assembly for debate and approval was perhaps the worst ever in the country. “In the existing LG act, the mayor is empowered. But the bill they (the PTI) have introduced focuses on the transfer of most of the powers to the chief officer, ignoring the mayor, chairman etc. So the PTI that had been claiming to empower mayors, local bodies’ elected representatives, was no more following its manifesto,” he explained. He said in the bill, the mayor’s was just a ceremonial office. “But we will foil their bid to do so,” he vowed.

About the agitation, Mr Javed said the elected representatives would continue their daily protest without any fear since it was under the law and Constitution.

The PML-N’s local bodies representatives and local leaders staged a massive protest at the Charing Cross, The Mall, against the bill envisaging the new local government (LG) system before the end of the existing system’s tenure.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2019