islamabad - The sitting mayors of different districts of the country have suggested a party-based direct election to fill the office of district nazims in future.

In an exclusive talk with The Nation, they said that direct election to the office of district nazims would increase masses’ participation and interest in the democratic process as they preferred the local governments system introduced by former president General ® Pervez Musharraf than the one in vogue in terms of financial and administrative authority.

District Nazim Peshawar, Asim Khan who was in Islamabad in connection with the International Conference on Local Governments stated that the local governments system in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was better than that in other provinces. However, it is not of the level introduced by President Pervez Musharraf. He was of the view that mayor should be directly elected on party-basis instead of by the chairmen of union councils. During Musharraf’s tenure, he said, the wealthy individuals benefited from the non-party basis elections and got elected as nazims of district councils.

Giving a comparison of the local governments system introduced by the provinces, Asim Khan said that the local governments system in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is much better than in the other provinces as they are enjoying more financial and administrative powers.

“Though the public representatives don’t have the powers they did during Musharraf’s regime, we still have sufficient funds to execute our projects. The Peshawar Local Government received Rs 8bn funds during 2001-14 but we have received Rs 50bn funds during the years 2016-17 and yet the government would be getting Rs 30 billion more in the current year,” he said and added PTI Chairman has special interest in the local governments of the province.

Admitting that the local governments system has flaws, he said that the structure is gradually improving and is helping to redress the grievances of common man. “It is difficult for a minister to reach out to masses at village level but a local representative can - he can keep any eye on things more closely,” he said. Khan was of the view that the system has helped to improve facilities in KP such as schools, hospitals, bus stands and other public places.

To another question, Asim Khan said that tension still exists between the parliamentarians and the local government representatives as the former are not willing to share power and funds with the local governments. He termed the local government system the best for service delivery and added that everywhere in the world; the system has really delivered for the masses.

Talking to The Nation, District Nazim Chakwal, Muhammad Tariq Awan also endorsed direct elections for the office of the nazims. He observed that the government did not show the interest it should have to help the system flourish. “Even then, the system is going well in the province,” he said.

To a question, Awan said that the parliamentarians don’t like power sharing with the local bodies and suggested that the local governments should only execute development projects. He was of the view that the dictators used the local bodies system to address the problems of the masses and added the democratic governments must take steps to promote and improve the local governments system in the country. To a question whether the local bodies served the masses as desired by the concept, he replied in affirmative and added still there is lot to do in this regard.