Political parties avoid local govt as important agenda


— Experts ask parties to increase representation of women, minorities, youth, and peasants

LAHORE: The local government was not an important agenda of political parties in the 2018 elections, according to representatives of different political parties, including the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Besides mainstream parties, representatives of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, Pakistan Muslim League-Q, Jamaat-e-Islami, Pak Sarzameen Party, Awami Workers Party, Jamhoori Watan Party and Awami Party Pakistan also participated in the day-long discussion.

According to the representatives, the local government was not included in the manifestos, already published or to be released soon. The consultation with political parties was arranged by the Sangat Development Foundation (SDF) here at a local hotel.

The event was held to assess the extent to which political party manifestos incorporated the local government, and how this scope can be increased. The consultation generated a comprehensive debate on the manifestos of the political parties.

PPP leader Barrister Muhammad Amir, PTI leader Nausheen Hamid, Jamaat leader Azhar Iqbal, PML-Q leader Naseem Kanwal, AWP leader Shazia Khan, PSP leader Mubeen Qazi were present on the occasion. All the participants highlighted the importance of the local government system.

They said that the local government was important to strengthen the democracy. This (LG) system provides an opportunity to ordinary citizen to become responsible for the administrative and financial affairs of their areas.

LG expert Zahid Islam said that the manifestos were seen as an important instrument for measuring the priorities of political parties. Besides political representatives, a number of civil society members, LG experts, representatives of the government and media also joined the event.

In Pakistan’s history, it is the first time that around 165,000 local government representatives are still functional and working in the local government system before the general election. The data shows that majority of the elected representatives are affiliated with different political parties.

“We hope that in future all political parties will include the agenda of the local government in their manifestos and women, youth, labour/peasant, and minority representation will be increased at all levels,” Zahid Islam told the audience.

Dr Nausheen Hamid claimed that the schedule of the local government elections would be given within 100 days of coming into power. At the end of the session, the participants emphasised that the local government budget should not lapse at the end of the financial year, but it should be tied to the project completion.