A.U. Saleem The Federal and provincial governments are actively planning either to scrap the existing structure of local governments or modify it significantly to meet their future socio-political objectives. In reality the local government system grows through a process of evolution in accordance with the political, administrative, ethnic and cultural requirements of a country or its provinces. The history of the local government in our country is chequered and mostly it has been scrapped or framed on the basis of political expediencies. However, in 2001 Pervez Musharraf made ill conceived and drastic changes thereby restructuring the entire district administrative set-up without pre-testing it anywhere in the country. A significant number of people in Punjab are not satisfied with it and according to a national survey - "The Local Government System: citizens perceptions and preferences" the system had not met its stated objectives "to empower the people at grassroots level." There have been no visible improvements in the delivery of essential services i.e. health, education, household services, watersupply and sanitation etc. The nazims were made mini-dictators without any transparent and effective system of accountability. The scandals of massive corruption, inefficiency and plundering of the local government resources have been widely published in the print media. In Punjab alone, the Auditor General of Pakistan in his report 2005-2008 has identified massive irregularities to the tune of 94 billion and embezzlement of 4.6 billion rupees. In fact the councillors and the nazims were the political backbone of Pervez Musharraf for his continuation in power but in spite of their unflinching support to the candidates of 'Q' League in the last general elections, the floodgate of hatred against Musharraf turned the tide in favour of 'People's Party' and 'N' League. It was against the spirit of 1973 Constitution to extend constitutional protection of the federal government to the local governments. The administrative structure of the civil and police administrations at district level that had grown administratively and sociologically over a period of 100 years was wrapped up with a single stroke of pen. Thus the whole set-up was politicized which not only undermined its independence and professionalism but also damaged the public interest. It was also a great blunder to transfer the administrative and financial authority of nearly 31 sub offices of the provincial governments to district and tehsil nazims. The present system emerged as rival to the provincial ministers, MNAs and MPAs because nazims were enjoying vast power. Since nazims were neither neutral nor trained to handle law and order problems, the most important responsibility of the state to provide safety and protection to its citizens fell victim to the competing political interests. In nutshell the system introduced by Pervez Musharraf is plagued with phenomenon of "elite culture" amid a host of chronic administrative and financial issues, thus offering very little to the voiceless majority. 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 de-centralization 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 the 1973 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 constitutional protection to the system should be deleted to provide flexibility to the provinces; 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 at strengthening the de-centralization Therefore, their recommendations may be kept in view. The Institution of Deputy Commissioner and Executive Magistracy should be revived in letter and spirit. It is high time to depoliticize the bureaucracy with institutional accountability. A distinction, however, be made between accountability to a person and to institution, between loyalty to public interest or obedience to a person over obedience to law, with a view to making or breaking a Govt, strengthening or weakening a political party, or rewarding or penalizing a political figure beyond the call of duty; the placement of nearly 31 sub-offices of the provincial government under the control of nazims should be reverted to the administrative hierarchy of provincial government.. The charter of local government should be restricted to civic and developmental functions without coming into conflict with the administration and politics of the provinces. Maintenance of law and order belongs to professional administrators and it should go to them. The revival of old municipal system with some changes will be in the best interest of the country. The hypocrisy of holding local councils' election on non-party basis is a political simulation. To provide credibility to the General Elections, Local Councils should be dissolved at the time of holding the general elections. The new or modified system must ensure transparent accountability of all functionaries and elected representatives. The provincial govt. should create a new office of 'district mothasib' with executive and judicial powers. The provincial government should not have any legal authority to dissolve a local council unless as a result of an inquiry the 'district mothasib' recommends doing so; Two-tier systems should be introduced. In rural areas there should be District Councils at the District levels and Union Councils for a group of villages whereas in the urban areas there should be Municipal Corporations for major cities, municipal committees for other urban areas and Union Committees for its subdivided units. Local councils must regard the Press and Electronic media as partners in the process of informing and educating the public. In a dynamic society objectives and priorities may change through time, and political, social, economic and physical environment is mutable, the governmental and administrative reforms must undergo frequent adaptations. My conclusion is that we should not take major decisions in a hurry. The pattern and the character of the Local Govt. 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 social change; to avoid corruption and misuse of funds; to prescribe well thought of systems and procedures to minimize the element of administrative discretion; to evolve a system of transparent accountability and Federal Govt. should give full Autonomy to the Provinces to decide the future set ups according to their socio-economic and socio-political circumstances for the sake of integrity and consolidation of our dear country Pakistan. Lets pray that our decision makers collective wisdom for the sake of maintaining and strengthening the principles of democracy. The writer is a former Administrator of the Lahore Metropolitan Corporation and DG, LDA.