RAWALPINDI: Military Lands and Cantonments (ML&C) has asked all 43 cantonments across the country to form mini boards and end the extensions in the terms of elected members.

In a letter to all the regional directors, available with Dawn, ML&C issued directions to begin working on the varied constitution of cantonment boards.

Sources said that federal cabinet met on Sept 22 with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair and gave approval to a summary forwarded by the Ministry of Defence to make a decision on the tenure of elected members.

In the ML&C letter, the department instructed regional directors to ask cantonment executive officers in their jurisdictions to proceed in the matter in light of section 14 of the Cantonment Act 1924 and forward nominations of one military Officer and a civilian member - who is not a person in the service of the government, for publication in the official gazette.

Sources said the mini-boards will consist of one civilian and one military member who will work under the station commander - the president of the cantonment board till the next local government elections in the cantonment areas.

The tenure of elected boards expired on Dec 10, 2019 and new elections will be held after the delimitation of new wards in cantonments.

Local government elections were held in April 2015 in 43 cantonment boards across the country. The tenure of elected members is four years.

The local government elections were held across the country in 2015 on Supreme Court orders and most seats were won by the PML-N.

In Rawalpindi, the PML-N won all the seats in the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board and nine out of 10 seats in the Chakala Cantonment Board.

This was the first time that elections were held under the Political Parties Act, prior to which elections in cantonment areas were not held on a party basis.

However, there was some confusion regarding the completion of the tenure of elected members.

After their tenure ended, the ML&C in January 2020 sought assistance from the Ministry of Law, and extended the tenure of elected members until the next local government elections.

When contacted, CCB Vice President Raja Irfan Imtiaz said there is confusion regarding the tenure of elected members and local government elections in cantonment boards.

He said that instead of making arrangements for elections, the government is making strange decisions.

Mr Imtiaz demanded that local government elections be held instead of forming mini-boards in cantonment areas.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2020