Aleem Khan promises empowered local govt


LAHORE: Punjab Senior Minister Abdul Aleem Khan on Saturday elaborated the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s plans to empower the local body system.

Speaking to a crowd filled with Union Council chairmen, vice chairmen and councilors, the senior minister assured them that his government was on the fast track to taking away the purse strings from MPAs and handing over funds to local government officials.

The minister was taking part in a panel discussion titled “Democracy from the Grassroots” which was part of the Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest being held in the city over the weekend. He was joined on stage by Okara MPA Jugnu Mohsin and Union Council chairmen from UC 125 and 127, Rai Mushtaq and Mubashir Hayatt.

Before the talk began, Khan noticed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Musadik Malik leaving the venue from a previous event and also invited him on stage.

The event became interactive as all panelists spoke in Punjabi and local government officials in the crowd sporadically commented on the proceedings.

The last of the panel to speak, Aleem Khan said that even his own party MPAs were not happy about losing their funds and handing over power to local government, but he would face their discontent to implement the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“There’s no better way than local government. Let legislators legislate, not oversee the building of roads and other small issues. Nobody wants to give away their authority, but PM Khan has asked us to do this so we will,” he said.

He promised a local government system where money and funds would be an issue that would not concern MPAs at all. The proposed system ousts district nazims and chairmen while introducing tehsil nazims.

“You will see that people will start quitting ministries to instead take part in these party-based elections,” he said.

He also talked about the creation of new village councils in rural and neighbourhood councils in urban areas, with 5-10 members based on size. “This is the old panchayat system, so there are no losers and we avoid a hostile environment,” he said.

The minister went on to say that local government will get 30 per cent of the budget, and 30 per cent of it would go to village councils, meaning that money would be injected in every single village directly. Tehsil and village funds will be separate in the proposed system.

He also took good-humoured jibes at Musadik Malik, saying that the previous government didn’t do anything without plastering the chief minister’s face on the project, no matter how small.