Punjab – Pakistan’s most populous, most prosperous, and most political province – remains the last one to not have implemented the constitutionally mandated Local Government (LG) institutions; in the rest, from underdeveloped Balochistan to remote Gilgit-Baltistan, the devolution of power is complete. If this isn’t a damning indictment of the party that has ruled Punjab for over 7 years, consider this, there is still no timeframe given by the party on when such devolution would be possible.

It is not that there is some inherent difficulty in enacting such a system in Punjab, in fact the most complicated and lengthy part of the procedure – the delimitation of constituencies and the election of members – has been compete since a year. The rest, selecting the top positions and nominating people for the reserved seats is an automatic process that should have been long completed.

The culprits behind the delay are well known; a party-wide desire to have amenable council members in top positions, and the reluctance on part of the MPAs to hand over the development funds to LG bodies.

It isn’t enough that patronage and kinship based politics have permeated mainstream parties in Punjab, now the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) wants to introduce this corrupting force into the LG setup too. LG bodies need to be detached from national politics, and more focused towards solving local problems, yet the ruling party remains adamant to turn LG bodies into extensions of the national narrative.

While the reports about delay due to kinship politics come through the grapevine, MPAs and MNAs talk about retaining the funds for themselves openly and often, arguing that they can do a better job. It doesn’t matter that what they are advocating is a breach of the constitution as long as they get to lavish government cash as they wish on whom they wish.

Without Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk looking to whip the government into line, there seems to be no pressure on the government to stop stonewalling.