Local govt polls may not be held by Aug 15 deadline in Islamabad

Published April 10, 2021
During the five years, even no honorarium was given to the local government representatives elected from 50 union councils of Islamabad. — AP/File
During the five years, even no honorarium was given to the local government representatives elected from 50 union councils of Islamabad. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: The local government elections, which are supposed to be held before Aug 15 this year, seem to be in the doldrums as so far required amendment has not been made to Local Government Act 2015 to start the delimitation process.

The five-year term of the first ever local government in Islamabad ended in February this year and as per clause 29 (3) of the Act, an administrator appointed by the federal government will perform functions until the elected local government assumes office within a period of six months.

Administrator Syed Shafaq Hashmi is running the affairs of the local government in Islamabad.

Sources said the new elections cannot be held without making an amendment to the Act and the Election Commission of Pakistan has already written to the interior ministry for making the required amendment for starting the delimitation process.

They said before conducting new elections, the ECP will have to carry out the new delimitation and for doing this there was a need to make the amendment to the existing law.

They said the last elections were held in accordance with the provisional data of census, which was allowed by an act only for one time. They said for a new delimitation, there was a need to make an amendment to get legal cover for using the census data of 2017.

“For this, there is a need for amendment,” an official of the ECP said.

The local government elections were held in November 2015 on the basis of the said act but the local government headed by PML-N mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz and three deputies of his party could not deliver due to various reasons, including alleged inefficiency of the mayor and hurdles created by bureaucrats. Even throughout the five-year tenure, financial rules were not prepared and notified by the government to help the local government representatives spend the funds the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) collected through taxes on welfare of their constituents.

During the five years, even no honorarium was given to the local government representatives elected from 50 union councils of Islamabad.

PTI lawmakers form Islamabad and Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Capital Development Authority (CDA) Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan and MNA Raja Khurram Nawaz, who before becoming MNAs were part of the local government, said a ‘vibrant local government system will be introduced in Islamabad’.

MNA Khurram Nawaz said during the last tenure the local government representatives could not come up to the expectations of people due to weak system and policies.

The SAPM said a draft law had already been finalised, adding that last elections conducted by PML-N were held in haste and on the basis of a weak act.

“We have conducted many meetings and will introduce the best local government system,” he said.

Former deputy mayor Syed Zeeshan Naqvi said the local government act was primarily a weak document in terms of its efficacy and enforcement clauses, having confused clauses, perhaps being typical of the bureaucratic jugglery.

He said absence of lucidity and confusing chain of command, hierarchy, powers and structure were the core reasons which kept the system dysfunctional and kaput. He said he expected that a new law will be made to empower local government representatives.

In response to the ministry of interior’s ads, he also submitted suggestion to the ministry for new local government system.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2021

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