Apparently winners can’t be choosers either

  • Local bodies representatives elected in Nov 2015 still await devolution of powers
  • Many representatives hold bureaucracy, CDA and CADD responsible for lack of devolvement of functions to elected members


On November 30, 2015, the citizens of Islamabad cast their votes to elect representatives in the first ever local body elections in the federal capital. The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) reigned supreme in Islamabad’s rural areas, and managed to grab some seats from the city’s urban localities as well. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) fared well in Islamabad and bagged many seats of chairmen, vice-chairmen and members mostly in the capital’s urban areas.

Almost three months ago, the PML-N elected Chairman Sheikh Ansar Aziz as mayor who took oath along with three deputy mayors, all hailing from the PML-N.

While there are no stumbling blocks in the devolution of power as far as a legislative framework is concerned, it is still very much in doubt if the political government and the civil bureaucracy are working towards that end.

The bill titled Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Bill, 2015 clearly demarcates the distribution of powers between the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC). At present, there are no legal lacunae impeding the elected members from exercising powers bestowed upon them by the afore-mentioned bill.

However, despite issuance of relevant notification earlier this month and devolution of as many as 23 directorates including the environment wing, directorate of water management, sports and culture, emergency and disaster management, the Simli dam management and human resource department, the metropolitan corporation is yet to exercise its powers and take hold of matters.

Talking to media, earlier this month, the newly elected mayor Aziz accused the capital’s bureaucracy for its halfhearted attempts to transfer the powers that include machinery, assets and personnel from both Islamabad Capital Territory and CDA.

An elected member of a Union Council, on condition of anonymity, confided in Pakistan Today that since the top leadership of PML-N and PTI has invested themselves on the issues of national importance like Panama Papers and drone attacks, the issue of local bodies has taken a back seat.

“Our voters ask us of our utility. They want their neighbourhoods cleaned; they want parks; they want water and they demand that footpaths be made and roads be carpeted. We have been left high and dry by our parties. I request them to take immediate action to end our misery,” he said.

It will be better for the people of Islamabad if the rift between the authorities concerned and the newly-elected IMC ends soon, he said. Many of them suffer from acute shortage of water, lack of waste disposal facilities and many other problems.

The mayor still awaits the notification that is expected to come during the month of June. In a recent development, CDA Designs DG Asad Kiani has been sent to IMC as Chief Municipal Officer (CMO). A notification in this regard too is expected to be issued soon.