RAWALPINDI: Military Lands and Cantonments (ML&C) has dissolved elected boards in 42 cantonments including Rawalpindi, replacing them with mini-boards that consist of one civilian and one military official under the station commander to run the affairs of civic authorities for a year.
A notification was issued in this regard, and cantonment board presidents — station commanders — have been asked to nominate individuals for the various boards.
The notification stated: “In the light of decision of federal cabinet on September 22, 2020, the federal government directed to form the varied boards in cantonment areas under clause (b) of sub-section (i) of section 14 of the Cantonments Act 1924.”
A senior Military Lands and Cantonments official told Dawn the notification was issued on Oct 7 and dispatched to cantonment executive officers on Oct 8 to be implemented.
He said all the elected boards in 42 cantonments across the country now stand dissolved and new three-member mini-boards will be formed within a week. The department has already asked all the cantonment boards to submit nominees’ names so routine work can begin.
Move paves way for setting up of mini-boards which has already been challenged in LHC
Cantonment boards were previously dissolved after the 1999 military coup on Oct 12 that year. Until 2015, cantonment board affairs were run by mini-boards.
After local government elections were held for the first time in the country under the Political Parties Act in 2015, the PML-N won most of the seats in the cantonment elections.
The elected members of the current cantonment boards have already completed their four-year tenure, but were advised to continue working until the next elections are held by the Ministry of Law and Justice.
However, the Military Lands and Cantonment director general, citing a federal cabinet decision, dissolved them on Oct 7.
Elected members of the Chaklala Cantonment Board (CCB) have already filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench challenging the formation of mini-boards in the cantonment areas after the elected members’ tenure expired. The petition was filed on Oct 2.
Justice Shahid Jamil has issued notices to Military Lands and Cantonments to submit a reply within 14 days on the formation of the boards.
When contacted, former CCB vice president Raja Irfan Imtiaz said they were ready to challenge the cabinet’s decision in the LHC and would contact the court about the dissolution of the board.
He said they are demanding new local government elections instead of mini-boards. The 2015 local government elections were held after 17 years, he said, and elected boards need to continue.
Published in Dawn, October 9th, 2020