Local government system embraced by dictators; shunned by democratic governments?

ISLAMABAD: It was the democratic elected governments that had always scrapped the local government system whereas military rulers always strengthened local government system.

This was stated by Head of the Department Peace and Conflict Studies Dr. Ishtiaq Chaudhary while addressing a seminar on “Devolution of Power to Local Governments: Challenges and Reforms” organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) here the other day.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Isthiaq termed the Basic Democracy System introduced by General Ayub Khan as the best local government System. However, the major political parties agitated and buried that LGS in 1967 without offering an alternative.

Similarly, the local government systems introduced by General Zia-ul-Haq in 1980s and later on by former Army chief and President General Pervez Musharaf was also scrapped by political parties, Mr.Chaudhary said. “General Pervez Musharraf’s ‘Devolution of Power Plan of the year 2000’ was real devolution but political parties did not accept that either.”

Blaming the civilian political leadership, Dr.Ishtiaq said that it was the lack of political will which prevented political parties ruling in Punjab and Sindh for not being able to hold local bodies’ elections for eight years.

He said that it was unfortunate that the political parties did not understand that the local government system strengthened them. He suggested structural changes that will make local governments so strong political parties would find it impossible to abolish them.

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