According to a statement made by the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, mayors of major cities in Punjab and KP will be selected by the population through a direct election. This news comes after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued directives for the local elections to be held without delay. This, in turn, led to provincial governments issuing public notices for the filing of nomination papers alone. It has been three years since the previous local bodies were dissolved and it is unfortunate that this is the only progress we have made meanwhile.
Whether the local elections are held directly or indirectly is of no particular significance as of right now. The fact of the matter remains that the previous system was scrapped without a vision for what should replace it. Surely local bodies are not as ineffective as they are being portrayed to be because they bridge the gap between the masses and their elected representatives. Without them, the grievances of the people remain unheard and important issues remain unaddressed. It is better having an imperfect system than not having one at all in the hopes of something flawless. Three years is a very long time for the political system of the country to run unconstitutionally—considering that our constitution dictates that the presence of a local body is essential—and further delays cannot be accepted.
There are claims being made that the preparations of the local body elections are in their final stages and that KP will hold the first phase by December 19 this, but little can be expected if we are to judge based off of the wavering commitment to the cause in the past. Instead of focusing on small details like the process for electing officials or which nominees are acceptable or not, decisions should be taken to solidify a particular date on which they will be held. A local government is a necessity, we can no longer treat it like an optional faction of governance.