• Proposed 26th amendment wants federation to establish local govts under Article 140-A
• Articles 140-B and 140-C to be introduced; sixth schedule to be added to Constitution

ISLAMABAD: The PML-N and MQM-P on Friday signed a formal agreement to empower local governments, which will be directly established and draw powers from the federation instead of provinces.

The memorandum of understanding, signed at Parliament House, relates to the two parties’ resolve to introduce the 26th amendment to the Constitution.

The two-point agreement was signed by Ahsan Iqbal of the PML-N and Syed Mustafa Kamal of the MQM-P.

“PML-N is in complete agreement with the MQM-P on the spirit, objective and need for the constitutional amendment for the establishment of autonomous and empowered local government as envisioned in the MQM’s constitutional amendment,” the agreement said.

The second point of the agreement said that both parties would work together to forge a national consensus within the parliament for the bill’s passage.

Meanwhile, MQM-P leader Aminul Haque told Dawn that his party had assured the PML-N that it would vote in the elections for prime minister and the National Assembly’s speaker and that it would sit on the treasury benches instead of the opposition.

“This MoU was the first step in this regard, and the local governments will be protected in a way similar to the NFC Award,” he said.

The proposed bill said these amendments “shall have an overriding effect and shall be applicable notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution or any law, judgement or order of court”.

“Article 140-A failed to fulfil the command of the Constitution to establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments,” the proposed bill said. “Therefore, to realise the intent of the Constitution, it’s imperative to clearly define the role, functions, responsibility and authority of the local governments in the Constitution.”

It said that Clause 1 of Article 140-A would be modified and read as: “The Federation shall, by law, establish a local government system throughout the country, whereby political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority shall be devolved to the elected representatives of the local governments.”

The proposed law aims to establish metropolitan city governments in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi division, Quetta, and every city with a population of more than five million.

Similarly, municipal city governments would be established in cities with a population ranging from one million to five million; municipal governments for cities with a population of 500,000 to one million; town governments for towns with a population ranging between 100,000 and 500,000; district governments for all rural districts; and town committees for towns with a population of 500,000 to 100,000.

There would be union committees in urban areas, union councils in rural areas, wards in every union committee/council, and village committees (panchayats) in every village.

The draft amendment proposes that every local government will have a tenure of five years from the date of its first meeting, while the mayor or the chairman will be elected directly. Elections will be held one month before the expiry of the term of a local government.

Moreover, Article 140-B of the proposed law discusses the powers and functions of the local governments.

Similarly, Article 140-C relates to the finances of the local governments.

It also states that the sixth schedule will be added to the Constitution, consisting of a list of 42 local government subjects.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2024

Opinion

The risk of escalation

The risk of escalation

The silence of the US and some other Western countries over the raid on the Iranian consulate has only provided impunity to the Zionist state.

Editorial

Saudi FM’s visit
Updated 17 Apr, 2024

Saudi FM’s visit

The government of Shehbaz Sharif will have to manage a delicate balancing act with Pakistan’s traditional Saudi allies and its Iranian neighbours.
Dharna inquiry
17 Apr, 2024

Dharna inquiry

THE Supreme Court-sanctioned inquiry into the infamous Faizabad dharna of 2017 has turned out to be a damp squib. A...
Future energy
17 Apr, 2024

Future energy

PRIME MINISTER Shehbaz Sharif’s recent directive to the energy sector to curtail Pakistan’s staggering $27bn oil...
Tough talks
Updated 16 Apr, 2024

Tough talks

The key to unlocking fresh IMF funds lies in convincing the lender that Pakistan is now ready to undertake real reforms.
Caught unawares
Updated 16 Apr, 2024

Caught unawares

The government must prioritise the upgrading of infrastructure to withstand extreme weather.
Going off track
16 Apr, 2024

Going off track

LIKE many other state-owned enterprises in the country, Pakistan Railways is unable to deliver, while haemorrhaging...