By Syed Aman
Historically, a major roadblock in development in Pakistan has been the involvement of provincial governments in running local governments or meddling in the operations of local governments. This is the main reason that provinces have never really achieved their responsibilities of running provinces because they have always feared of losing power if local governments were to become autonomous. Each province has historically claimed its center of power with control of the largest city in the province. Sindh has constantly meddled in the affairs of Karachi, Punjab has always claimed Lahore as its key power center, KP government is always connected to its control of Peshawer, and Baluchistan government is always aligned with Quetta as its center. There is a good solution to this terrible connection. Why not have each province develop a central capital away from these large cities so that they can govern their provinces more efficiently. They can even select an existing city and build a capital around that city.
Key provincial government responsibilities
While there is no doubt that a fully functional local governance will be a powerful unit of government, the provincial government will have tremendous added responsibilities and opportunities to develop their provinces in running provincial wide infrastructure such as highways, transit systems, law & order, educational systems and provincial wide healthcare systems. All of these areas have been ignored by provincial governments as they have continued to put a major part of their resources in running local governments or controlling local government affairs.
Change is necessary for true progress
This mindset can only change if provincial lawmakers can understand that their success could only happen by moving away from control and instead assist communities in forming their own governments. The recent passage of the 2013 Sindh Local Government Act would take the Sindh province back another 10-20 years. It includes all types of provincial controls in local governments.
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.