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Devolution and the threat of mini-dictators

August 12, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Aug 12: Government’s silence over Sindh High Court’s (SHC) decision (on May 18) to conduct local government elections within 90 days is contempt of court.

Newly appointed Election Commission has also failed its first test of democracy and will also be in contempt as it was to make provisions for holding the election under the same order.

Chairman of Jeevay Pakistan Jeevay Maqami-Hakoomat (JPJM), Daniyal Aziz stated that during a press conference on Sunday.

This case will be a test for rule of law and democracy in Pakistan as Islamabad and Sindh were both parts of Pakistan, how can the courts remove a prime minister due to contempt and use some excuse to spare a chief minister or the Election Commission, he said.

The controversy surrounding the contempt of court gained notoriety due to the prime minister remaining adamant that the immunity enjoyed by the president compelled him not to abide by the courts decision.

In the case of contempt by the Sindh Government and the election commission there is no such excuse.

However, it will not be surprising to see if the government and the Election Commission now claim immunity against democracy making a mockery of the Constitution and democracy, he said.

He said that the sixty-day period for the Sindh government to file an appeal to the judgment expired on July 18 and it is only this week that the Sindh government is desperately trying to seek a stay order to protect them from violating the Constitution and contempt of court.

The provincial governments’ appeal has not been accepted, despite two attempts at filing the same, both were returned with objections by the Sindh Registry of the Supreme Court this week.

Political parties have been continuously using the excuse that they were fashioning a new system of local government system by including the good measures of the Zia system and the 2001 system.

However, this has also turned out to be a hoax with the public as they have simply adopted the Zia system by reviving the 1979 Local Government Ordinance that actually creates mini-dictators in the bureaucracy of each district and Taluka, he said.

He said each provincial government was duty bound to establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibilities and authority to the elected representatives of the local government and non-holding of the local government elections was a violation of Articles 32, 140-A and 17(2) and 2-A of the Constitution.