After being held in cold storage for a long time, ironically due to the dithering of democratic dispensations, the arena is all set for the inception of the local government. But where it kindles some optimism, this is instantly blunted by the fact that the political parties continue to slog it out with one another, ranting and raving that only their brand of local government is suited to the nation’s needs.
For instance, the PML-N will be holding the local body elections on a non-party basis in Punjab, which is not in sync with the rest of the provincial governments that are holding it on a party basis. The PML-N’s posturing also stands in sharp contrast with the PTI, which has been a vocal advocate of the elections on a party basis because it is of the view it can win, and thus demonstrate its favoured position among the people.
The PPP seems weighed down at the prospect of non-party polls in Punjab, feeling it reeks of local government in vogue during Ziaul Haq’s era, which stacked the cards against the possibility of Bhutto clan staging a political comeback.
If power is to be devolved to the people at the local level, perhaps we might not see realisation of this objective given the fact that under the present arrangement the financial powers would remain with the provinces, which obviously is a way to defang any local government holding office. Critics might say democratic parties are afraid of empowering the people at the grassroots level.
Whether or not the system in one province tallies with others, the populace is mainly interested in governance that can deliver respite from bureaucracy-oriented officialdom that has made their life a misery in all spheres.