The toothless local government representatives look highly perturbed on their powerlessness as the councillors have threatened to hold protest while the vice chairmen are also going to follow in their footsteps to get power, The Nation has learnt.
A bunch of councillors elected in December 5 LB polls have formed an agitation group under the banner of Councillors Baa-ikhtiyar Tehreek (Councillors Empowerment Movement) in Multan.
One of the group leaders Majid Sindhu hinted at taking the agitation to South Punjab level. “We’re going to hold a South Punjab Councillors Convention on February 12 to chalk out line of action for retrieving our due rights,” he declared while talking to this scribe.
Another Councillor Ikram Ansari hurled the threat of an extreme step to the government. “If we’re not given powers, we’ll resign from our offices,” he warned. He lamented that the councillors were made toothless by bureaucracy under a conspiracy to flop the system.
The councillors also looked highly disturbed on their exclusion from electoral college for mayoral and chairman of district council. “Give us right to vote in upcoming mayor and chairman district council elections. If the councillors in Islamabad have this right, why we’re deprived of it,” questioned Ishtiaq Bokhari, a member of the councillor’s group.
Councillors Shafi Ansari and Tufail Khokhar demanded special powers. “The government should issue us special cards. We have to go to different public offices and we need special cards so that our issues should be resolved on priority,” they added. They lamented that the councillors were supposed to help the public out in case of difficult situation but they were made toothless.
All the councillors unanimously demanded the government to fix salary for them. “We’re going to spend our time and money on public welfare issues but nothing is allocated for our salaries. It’s injustice. We demand salaries,” they asserted.
A group of councillors also staged a demonstration at Khooni Burj Chowk for their rights. They shouted slogans against the government and demanded empowerment. The demo quickly caught the attention of the citizens as they gathered at the demo spot in large numbers to see their representatives holding agitation for their rights.
On the other hand, some of the newly elected vice chairmen told this scribe that they also had decided to constitute a pressure group to force the government to give them powers. “We’re seriously considering a proposal regarding joining hands with the councillors in their agitation for powers,” a vice chairman said while requesting anonymity.
He said that the role and powers of vice chairmen in Local Government Ordinance are ambiguous and it looked as if they would perform as a secretary to the chairman. “We do not have right to vote in chairman district council and mayor elections while the powers to receive, recover and spend funds in union councils are also held by the chairmen. What will we do in the union council?” he questioned.