Tug of war intensifies as Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad's mayor challenges govt reference

Updated February 16, 2020

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On Feb 13, the Local Government Commission headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Capital Development Authority (CDA) Affairs MNA Ali Nawaz Awan decided to proceed against Mr Aziz for a number of charges.  — DawnNewsTV/File
On Feb 13, the Local Government Commission headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Capital Development Authority (CDA) Affairs MNA Ali Nawaz Awan decided to proceed against Mr Aziz for a number of charges. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The ‘tug of war’ between the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to take over control of the federal capital at grassroots level has intensified as the opposition party-backed Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz has challenged a reference filed against him by the Local Government Commission.

On Feb 13, the Local Government Commission headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Capital Development Authority (CDA) Affairs MNA Ali Nawaz Awan decided to proceed against Mr Aziz for a number of charges.

At a meeting on Friday, acting Chief Metropolitan Officer (CMO) Humayun Akhtar, who is member engineering CDA, filed the reference with the commission against the mayor.

Mr Awan also recommended to the federal government to suspend the mayor for three months till the completion of the inquiry.

In his reference, the CMO alleged that two dozen staff members were in the personal use of the mayor. The mayor was also using official vehicles beyond his entitlement.

Petition filed in IHC says allegations against mayor appeared to be politically motivated

The CMO said the MCI was being used by the mayor for his personal glorification. The charge sheet said the mayor in the absence of rules made transfers/postings and took disciplinary action.

Challenging the filing of the reference and subsequent recommendation for his suspension, Mayor Aziz filed a petition in Islamabad High Court (IHC) which would be taken up on Monday.

In the petition, the mayor said the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) was formed under the Local Government Act 2015 wherein several political, financial and administrative functions were devolved to the MCI.

However, since its inception the MCI has been facing several issues regarding devolution of powers from the government and despite the directives of the Ministry of Interior several directorates were still being operated, controlled and managed by the CDA and the chief commissioner office.

The petition said the Supreme Court had discussed the matter regarding powers of the MCI in the Pak Gulf Construction Company case. The apex court had observed that the mayor had a large establishment where more than 11,000 people were employed but had totally surrendered his position. He has neither any fund available with him nor any sort of power on the basis of which he could carry out any development work in the capital.

The Supreme Court was told that the mayor cannot control his own staff or make posting or transfer of MCI’s employees, the petition said, adding the apex court had observed that the matter pertaining to the development within the federal capital “ought to have been dealt with by the Local Government headed by the mayor”.

The petition contended that the union councils established in Islamabad in general and the MCI in particular had been crippled by the PTI government and not only the mayor but the other chosen representatives were also facing problems in executing their lawful responsibilities.

The petition alleged that soon after the appointment of Ali Nawaz Awan as chairman of the Local Government Commission, he started creating hurdles in the affairs of the mayor besides hatching conspiracies to curb the powers of the mayor.

The petition said recently IHC in a matter related to the financial matters of the MCI issued a restraining order to the chief commissioner against utilisation of development funds.

The petition claimed that Mr Awan was not happy with the order and recommended the suspension of the mayor and filed a reference on flimsy grounds.

It said the allegations leveled against the mayor appeared to be political vengeance.

According to the petition, due process was not followed in the instant case and requested the court to set aside the notification.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020