It’s almost nine years since local (municipal) government (LG) elections were held in Pakistan in the Musharraf era (a period nicknamed as ‘controlled democracy’ by his political opponents). Since the departure of Musharraf, the two successive so-called ‘open’ democratic governments have failed to hold elections of the third tier of democracy (other two tiers are national and provincial assemblies). A while back the Supreme Court intervened, but its orders on LG elections were put aside by all the provincial governments, citing laughable excuses. It’s very obvious none of the democratically elected provincial governments is ready to devolve its administrative and financial powers at city and town levels. These governments want to keep the municipal administration of cities and towns under their thumb; classic case of concentration of power, greed and corruption.

In the present democratic set-up, a common man can be elect the national and provincial assemblies members but he is not permitted to elect someone who will be responsible to run healthcare, education, sanitation, road works and development projects in his/her city or town. It’s interesting that none of the political parties, other than MQM, is vocal on this issue. In my opinion, MQM itself is the cause of this holdup in LG elections, and creation of new provinces in Punjab and KPK. All political parties are united not to let MQM takeover the Karachi’s LG; that is the main reason for not meeting the constitution clause on 3rd tier of democracy.


Saudi Arab, September 26.