The federal and provincial governments are actively planning either to scrap the existing structure of Local Government or modify it to meet their requirements. For the modernisation of the system, Asian Development Bank has provided about $300 million for improving local representation, evolving a system of transparent accountability and bringing efficiency in the delivery of civic services to the people. The fact of the matter is that the local government system grows through a process of evolution in accordance with the political, socio-anthropological, ethnic and cultural conditions of a country. Ayub introduced Basic Democracies System in 1959, making 80000 democrats as electoral college for the election of the President. From 1972 to 1977, the PPP did not hold local body elections Zia constituted "Majlas-e-Shoras" at the federal and provincial levels but delegated powers to elected representatives in local councils to prolong his ruthless rule. Later, General Musharraf made drastic changes by changing the entire structure of the District administration by promulgating the Local Government Ordinance, 2001. Gen Naqvi and his team had no insight or practical experience of the district administration or of local government. They destroyed nearly 150 years old system. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, constitutional protection was given to the system under Article 140-A of the Constitution. It is pertinent to note that martial law regimes were not sincere in their pursuits, their only aim being to create an army of loyalists from village to the city levels to perpetuate their unconstitutional and illegal rules. The cardinal principle of Local Government, all over the world, is that local representatives must exercise powers within the framework of local charters framed with the participation of local communities or laws passed by the elected representatives of the people. Ironically none of the above pre-requisites was followed in 2001. The administrative structure of civil & police administration that had grown administratively, politically and sociologically over a period of more than 100 years was scraped with one stroke of a pen. The ex-President was very proudly acclaiming as one of his big achievements at the national & international forums, that he had empowered the people and delegated them sufficient administrative and financial powers to provide security and civic amenities to the people at the grassroots level. The new system was not pre-tested in any district or province before introducing it all over the country. In four martial laws, it was persistently advocated that elected representatives were corrupt and inefficient. On the contrary the politicians in the form of nazims were made mini dictators without any transparent system of accountability. Unfortunately no reliable and objective study was conducted to evaluate the performance of local councils and their nazims. But stories of corruption, inefficiency and plundering of the resources of local governments appeared in the media from time to time. Provincial Local Government Commissions constituted under Clause 131 of the said Ordinance neither performed special inspections, monitoring, special audit, and enquiries nor took cognisance of the violation of laws & rules. The ministers for local governments were the ex-officio chairmen of the Commissions and it was not in their political interest to lay hand on their staunch supporters. Out of 35 Districts of Punjab, 33 nazims were de-facto allies of PML(Q) League. Obviously ruling Q-League's patronisation of provincial governments and absolute protection of Pervez Musharraf made them very strong. In fact these councillors & nazims were the backbone for the survival of Musharraf as they were to provide unflinching support to him and "Q-League" at the time of general elections. In the beginning of this year, "London Economist" in one of its publications had highlighted that millions of dollars were misused by the nazims in providing electoral support to the PML(Q) candidates in the last election. Nearly 100 of these candidates were close relatives of nazims. It may be of some interest to the readers that the ADP funds of the provincial governments to the tune of billion of rupees were transferred to Local Councils. Barring few exceptions, no commendable improvement is visible in the standard of basic civic amenities in the urban or rural areas. Our society particularly in rural areas is still divided into clans and baradris. Our rural population forms about 70% of our total population. In future if a nazim from one baradri is elected, he will try his level best that opponent from other bradri is not elected as a Nazim. He will use all sorts of rough methods including stoppage of development funds in his areas. As the nazims have enormous funds and authority, influential class of people have already captured power and will to do continue to do so in the forthcoming local body elections. Thus, the poor and deprived section of the society shall remain the victim of their exploitation and will have no voice or meaningful participation in the governance of local councils. On the promulgation of aforesaid Ordinance, the administrative & financial authority or the management of 31 offices of the Provincial Govt. stood decentralised placing them under the control of the district and tehsil nazims. This arbitrary step has eroded some authority of the provincial government and unmanageable mega unit of local administration like WAPDA has been created. It has created diarchy as the administrative set-up of these departments is still functioning at the regional and provincial levels. The Police Reforms Commission had recommended that the functioning of the police should not be politicised but its recommendation was ignored. The institution of Deputy Commissioner which was nearly a century-old was also changed. The nomenclature of DC was changed as DCO. The Nazims acquired overriding authority to initiate the ACRs of DCOs and DPOs. It may be appreciated that our politicians have, not yet, attained the required political maturity and impartiality in the dispensation of justice to the common man. This retrogressive step proved as a last nail in the structure of District administration and the whole system was politicised, making it subservient to the Nazims. Musharraf took an adverse view of judicial activism at the level of the Chief Justice which ultimately brought his political demise. Had he acted prudently and he could have analysed as to why thousands of petitions seeking justice were pouring in the office of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Candidly speaking it was a true reflection of dissatisfaction, frustration of the people due to incompetence of the administrative systems operating at local levels that was not redressing the genuine grievances of a common man. He should have introduced revolutionary changes at the local level to deliver justice to the people at their doorsteps. It was proved beyond any doubt that genuine grievances of the people were not being redressed at their local levels and thus the Local systems needed revolutionary changes. The fast deteriorating law and order situation in the country undermining the writ of the government, besides other factors, is the outcome of diarchy and politicisation of civil administration headed by nazims. In nutshell system introduced by Musharraf has not achieved its desired results. It is very difficult to propose all macro or micro modifications in this article. However, few major policy recommendations are enumerated below: In countries where political unity is not firmly established, in particular, the system of decentralisation, is generally designed to stimulate the consolidation and reinforcement of national unity. As the cultural patterns, administrative and political realities of each province are different, it will be in the supreme interest of the country to leave the provinces to carve out their own systems. According to our Constitution and in view of our historical background, the local governments must fall within the domain of provinces. Accordingly Article 140-A of the Constitution which has provided protection to the system should be deleted to provide flexibility to the provinces. Some believe that system can be amended under Article 268(2) of the Constitution which provides that on the recommendation of Provincial Govt, the President can allow amendments in the Local Govt. Ordinance. Both of these provisions should be carefully examined by legal experts before making any radical changes In the current scenario the Punjab & NWFP were anxious to abolish the whole system, Sindh ruled by PPP & MQM wanted to retain it. Thus, the future of the system should be made with the consultation of major Political Parties so that it is accepted by all. The ADB & other Donor Agencies are funding certain projects aimed that strengthening the de-centralisation & it may be difficult for the Federal Government to agree to scrap the entire system when economy needed more foreign exchange. Since no elaborate exercise has yet been carried out by the provincial governments to frame an alternative viable system of local governance therefore, the LGO-2001 should be amended not repealed. No doubt that about 100 other laws were amended at the time of introducing Local Government Ordinance, it may create another hurdle in the way of abolishing the whole system. There may be no significant dispute as far as the functions of various tiers of the Local Government are concerned, the remaining portions of the Ordinance may be amended. The Institution of Deputy Commissioner and Executive Magistracy should be revived and nazims should not initiate ACRs of these officers. The performance of 31 departments of the provincial governments, placed under the administrative control of the nazims should be carefully reviewed before changing their administrative control from the nazims. In our country neither bureaucratic system nor that of elected mayors, chairmen and nazims have succeeded. Therefore, we have to adopt and carve out a system of checks and balances to ensure freedom, democracy & efficiency of the administration. The efficiency in discharging public tasks should be an important consideration in determining the structure of the local councils laying more and more emphasis on ever emerging public needs such as public health, education, public utilities, public transport, pollution, traffic congestion, water supply, drainage etc. The new system must give top priority to these problems and aim at social and economic development of the people. In terminology of modem social sciences, local government is a system that functions together with other systems. In reforming the system, the government should take these factors into consideration: In the new set-up the government should find out the ways and means to avoid friction between nazims and MNAs/MPAs to ensure political cohesion. The hypocrisy of holding local body elections on non-party basis is a political simulation. The election should be party-based after the election of MNAs and MPAs to ensure continuity and cooperation. To provide credibility to the general election, local councils should not be headed by elected representatives at the time of holding the general elections. The new system or modified system must ensure transparent accountability of all functionaries and of elected representatives. The Govt. may consider the creation of new office 'District Mohtasib' with adequate executive and judicial powers. We must remember that when human environment is constantly degraded political disturbances, unrest crime and terrorism are the consequential result of this phenomenon. It is therefore, absolutely necessary that we should frame national policies of urban and rural development. In a dynamic society in which objectives and their priorities may change through time, and political, social, economic and physical environment is mutable, the governmental and administrative reforms must undergo frequent adaptations. The local councils should make greater use of co-option of additional members in its sub-committee who could provide specialised advice to the members. The local governments must regard the print and electronic media as partner in the process of informing and educating the public. It is recommended that we should not take major decisions in a hurry. The pattern and character of local governments must focus on seven things: to perform efficiently; to protect the interest of its citizens; to adopt itself without disruption to the present unprecedented process of change; to avoid corruption & misuse of funds; to prescribe well thought out systems & procedures to minimise the element of discretion; to evolve a system of transparent accountability & finally Federal Government should give full Autonomy to the Provinces to decide the future fate of local governments for the sake integrity and consolidation of our country. Let us pray that our decision makers apply their collective wisdom for the sake of maintaining & strengthening the principle of democracy to serve the people honestly. The writer is a former administrator of the Lahore Metropolitan Corporation and DG, LDA