Local Bodies Dissolved. Good, Bad, or Ugly?

Posted on July 8, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Politics
42 Comments
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Adil Najam

In a dramatic but not entirely unexpected move, the Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani has announced that all Local Bodies have been dissolved and the forthcoming Local elections have been postponed because of the law and order situation. Administrators will be appointed by the Provincial governments from the bureaucracy to replace Nazims until elections are held.

Meanwhile, according to APP, the Prime Minister also announced that the decision of appointing administrators did not mean that the local government system would be abolished. “It has been unanimously agreed by the provinces that administrators will be appointed and the local bodies elections will be held after the law and order situation improves,” he added.

In a decision with deep developmental implications, the twice-postponed national census was also postponed – yet again.

According to a report in The News that did not hide its own views on the issue:

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani announced dissolving the local governments throughout the country and postponed local bodies elections till improvement in the law and order situation. The decision would mean an effective return to the old ways of bureaucratic bigwigs lording over the masses, who would once again have no influence or say in the management of matters at the grassroots level.

The prime minister said non-political administrators would replace elected Nazims from August. He also revived the executive magistracy system in the country. “A decision to this effect has unanimously been taken by all the provinces and now I would consult the president on the subject and a decision is expected within four weeks,” he said while addressing a press conference here on Wednesday after chairing an Inter-Provincial Coordination meeting at the Prime Minister Secretariat.

Flanked by Sindh, Balochistan, NWFP chief ministers, governor of the NWFP, Punjab Provincial Minister for Local Government Dost Muhammad Khosa and Chief Executive of Northern Areas and Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, the prime minister said it was also decided to postpone census till the end of the year. “We will take up this issue again by the end of the current year to review the situation in the country, as the NWFP government has requested to this effect as it is hard to hold census in the province due to insurgency in some areas of the province,” he said. The premier said there was demand that census should be held by the Army to ensure its transparency but the Army is engaged against militants. The prime minister said the government had also decided to postpone the local government elections till a favourable environment and to amend the Police Order 2002.

“The local government elections could not be held due to prevailing law and order situation in the country as there is insurgency in the NWFP and whenever there is an environment conducive for an election exercise it would be held,” he said. Gilani said the administrators would be non-political people and the provincial government would appoint them from the bureaucracy. “The appointment of the administrators is the prerogative of the provincial governments as we believe in the provincial autonomy,” he added.

He, however, said competent and neutral government officers would be appointed as administrators. He said there was consensus among the provinces that the magistracy system should be revived and for this necessary amendments would be made to the law. He said it was also decided in the meeting to amend the Police Order 2002 in the light of demands of the provincial governments according to the Constitution. He said in this regard, the National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) and ministries concerned would be taken on board for formulating recommendations.

Asked whether the government would hold the local government elections on party basis or non-party basis, the prime minister replied the PPP in its election manifesto had clearly taken the line of party-based local government elections but the holding of the local government elections was a prerogative of the provincial governments and it was up to them to decide the mode of the elections. When asked about the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s opposition to dissolving the local governments, he said the Sindh chief minister would take them into confidence on the consensus decision of all the four chief ministers.

How do you react to this development and what it means for democracy and devolution in Pakistan. Was this necessary? Good? Bad? Or outright Ugly?

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42 responses to “Local Bodies Dissolved. Good, Bad, or Ugly?”

  1. rootlevel says:

    Hmmmm….

    If the LG system (root level democracy) is corrupt, election could not be held due to law and order, and only the beuracrats can run the cities. Shouldn’t the same logic hold true for provicinial govt and federal govt. Kick them off and get beuracrats to run the country.

    What does CJ has to say about this undemocratic step. But wait, “kursi” is what everybody is after; not democracy.

  2. theuglymawg says:

    I guess the PPP knows PML(N) will sweep the LB elections; something they cannot let happen as it would further pave way for the N-walahs to start agitating for mid terms elections.

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