Democracy is in the air. Imran Khan has been raising a hue and cry about stolen election mandates and the people’s power. The joint session of the parliament repeatedly affirmed its faith in the democratic process and an ardent desire to protect it at all costs. MQM and even Tahir-ul-Qadri have been demanding that new provinces be made, so that power is decentralised. Yet despite all this, when it comes to turning all these glorious sentiment to reality, by holding Local Government (LG) elections, all parties cling to power.

November 15, the extended deadline for holding LG polls is almost upon us, and the governments of Punjab, Sindh and KPK are nowhere close to holding the election. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued notices to attorney generals of these provinces to file reports on the preparations of the provincial governments to hold the LG polls within 15 days. Will the unwilling government be pressurised into moving forward through this order, remains to be seen. The sensationalised everyday political intrigue, Zarb-e-Azb and the floods have driven everything else from the government’s mind and provided convenient excuses for the delay. It is commendable that the apex court is perusing this issue relentlessly. Not only is it keeping the issue in the public’s eye, it previously gave the ECP authority for delimiting constituencies in these provinces, which the provinces were shamelessly taking eons to do.

The federal government will change foreign policy, the provinces will get their motorways and industrial projects built, but which body will build the local sewer, or the pot-holed village road? Without the LG polls, the funds for developmental projects rests with MPAs who can quietly embezzle millions without anyone noticing. Why would a parliamentarian who would be elected in his hometown based on his stature alone, build a school in a lowly town or a thoroughfare? The local council member will. He will be elected on these local issues and mandates. He is the only one that knows the issues of that community, the only one who would bother. Not only this, this grassroots devolution of power not only gets things done, it shows people the real power their vote holds, it involves them into the democratic system, involves them in rational debates over policy and principles they relate with. It makes them democrats. It is time we take our hypocritical democrats to task, Nawaz, Bilawal and Imran alike. The LG polls must not be delayed any more.