By Syed Aman
Lack of organized local governance remains to be a critical issue in Pakistan. The 18th Amendment in the constitution (passed in 2010) specifically requires that all four provinces establish local government and delegate all responsibilities ( political, financial, & administrative ) to the local government. As of 2018, this law has not been fully implemented. The underlying reason historically is related to politics, power, control, and lack of trust. The provinces will lose their traditional control and thus would continue to delay moving forward with local government elections and implementation.
Benefits far-outweigh costs The benefits of having local government far outweigh any costs and negative impact. In the long term the biggest beneficiaries would be the provinces themselves. New leaders would emerge, new opportunities would develop, and most of all responsibilities in terms of security and infrastructure, checks and balances would be shared with these new governments. Pakistan could then move from an incomplete democracy to a truly three tier democracy. However, unless the legislators recognize the importance of implementing local governance, the future is bleak and uncertain with anarchy to continue on a widespread basis.
Keep political parties out of local government affairs. Even if the parliament and lawmakers decide to implement local government, it is very important to establish the organizational and political structure of a local government. Most urban scholars would agree that political parties (state and federal political parties) should not be involved in running local government. A local government should be represented by local representatives from various professional and business backgrounds but should not be supported by any political party. This form of local governance has the best chance to succeed in Pakistan. It is the opinion of this author that if Pakistan were to continue to allow political parties to participate in local government, it would increase further turmoil at a scale that we have not seen before. More infighting among parties and corruption are virtually guaranteed when politicians are running local government.
About Syed Aman
Syed Aman is a city planner with over 35 yrs of city planning and local government experience in the United States. Syed earned an M.S. in City Planning and has numerous publications on diversified planning subjects. Syed is also the founder of actionpakistan thinktank and has a keen interest in offering solutions on governance in Pakistan with a special interest in local governance.