Govt seems reluctant to hold local bodies polls

Published June 14, 2021
The five-year term of LGs in the federal capital ended in February this year. — AP/File
The five-year term of LGs in the federal capital ended in February this year. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Although the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is demanding implementation of Article 140-A of the constitution (for putting in place the Local Government system) in Sindh, it dissolved LGs in the Centre and Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the two other provinces it rules.

LGs in Punjab, which could run only for over two years, were dissolved three months ago and they are not being restored by the Punjab government even after orders of the Supreme Court. Now LGs are eying on the apex court’s next hearing on the issue on June 24.

Similarly, the five-year term of LGs in the federal capital ended in February this year and according to the Constitution, the government is bound to hold elections in six months, but it seems to be reluctant to do so as five months have passed and no work has been started for the elections, including delimitations, which was to be started three months before holding of the polls

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain at a press conference in Karachi on Sunday ruled out the possibility of imposing governor’s rule in Sindh, saying the PTI government was in favour of the implementation of Article 140-A, which required the provinces to establish the LG system, and devolve political, administrative and financial powers to LG elected representatives so that the basic issues of people could be resolved at their doorsteps.

Govt is bound to hold Local govt elections in six months

The minister said the Sindh government had received Rs1,800 billion under the National Finance Commission Award but nobody knows where that money had been spent.

Talking to Dawn, Chairman (Mayor) of District Council Narowal Ahmed Iqbal who had moved the Supreme Court against dissolution of LGs in Punjab, said: “How the information minister talks about implementation of Article 140-A of the constitution, if the PTI government has itself wrapped up the LG system in two provinces and the Centre.”

He said despite the apex court’s orders, the Punjab government was not restoring the LGs rather it was creating resistance in reopening of LGs’ offices. “We are pinning hope on the next hearing of the case on June 24 in which the apex court might ask the provincial government why it is not implementing the court’s orders,” he added.

He said some LGs like those in Narowal, Sahiwal, Gurjat, Rawalpindi and Bahawalpur have started their work but facing resistance from the provincial government.

In Islamabad, LGs have completed their five-year term in February but the federal government has appointed an administrator, Syeda Shafaq Hashmi. But, he could not start work for holding the next LGs elections required to be held within six months after the end of the term of the LGs.

A source in the LG system in Islamabad said if the government was sincere to hold next LG polls in the federal capital then it will have to start delimitation of constituencies three months before the elections. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Farhatullah Babar said LGs in KP run for four years and they were dissolved by the PTI-led provincial government. “Now even after directives of the Supreme Court the LG system is not being put in place in the province,” he added.

He said not even the KP, but there was no LG even in the recently merged districts of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

Asked when the PPP government will hold next LG polls in Sindh, he said the government was facing some problems in delimitation process which have now been resolved. “We will soon start delimitation of constituencies in Sindh to restore LG system there,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2021

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