WHILE there would be little to argue against the holding of local body elections on party-basis, the fact that the present system is to be completely wound up on the expiry of the Constitutional protection as mentioned in 6th Schedule and is to be replaced by the earlier system, would however raise certain serious questions. The local bodies would revert to the control of provincial governments also, as in the pre-Musharraf days. Elaborating the rationale of the official stand, the Prime Minister told a news conference at Multan airport on Sunday that the party-based elections would help the various political parties to grow from the grassroots. He is certainly right. The parties would be able to spot suitable candidates for national leadership from the manner they conduct themselves at this lower tier. And the budding leaders could be groomed to effectively work at a higher level. The scenario would present the picture of a properly functioning democracy, as Mr Gilani pointed out. But there is still a snag In Sindh, the MQM, an important coalition partner of the PPP, is on a collision course with other parties in the country; it wants the existing order to stay. One reason that could be cited for this stand is that its nazims heading the local government institutions in the province have delivered and, thus, brought the party greater popularity. In the first instance, the PPP did not wish to annoy the MQM, but as its position on the infamous NRO has given the political realities of the country a different turn, the PPP is no longer willing to accommodate it. One could expect some unpleasant results, though, as the new order comes into force. Taking into account the lessons of experience with the existing system, one would have very much wished that rather than totally abandoning it, only its unfavourable features were discarded and given a helpful shape. The ruling leadership must acknowledge the fact that wherever the nazims had been active and resourceful, some good work was done. The rather common charge of the misuse of funds could have been taken care of with due accountability. Prime Minister Gilani expressed his views on a host of other issues, which the country is currently dealing with, like terrorism, the Indian role in fomenting trouble in Pakistan, relations with the US, a fair accountability process, etc. With all these demanding challenges for the government to surmount, he was quite justified in maintaining that any other contentious matter such as a Saraiki province had better not be raised.