LAHORE - The Punjab government is quite cool on the incomplete process of the local government (LG) system although the delay has been mainly factored by the court cases which the opposition parties had led there.

In the wake of three phases of direct elections of the local bodies representatives on December 4 last, indirect elections on the reserved seats for women, youth, peasant/labour and minorities in the second step and that of election of the top slots in the third step are pending since then.

For the rest two steps the Punjab government amended the Local Government Act to replace secret balloting with show-off-hand, something unacceptable to the opposition parties – PPP, PTI and the PML-Q – who challenged it in the court about two months ago. Once decided there, the appeals process may follow that would consume even more time.

Previously the provincial ministers were hoping the completion of the LB process by February at the most and government had started preparations for funding and provision of infrastructure for the system.

Sources in the PML-N say now the government is not much worried about LG system’s remaining off-track, which has remained so since October 2009. They say the system would likely be functional after the budget, as this suits the government.

After the budget (expected by mid-June) the government would feel comfortable to allocate funds for the LBs which now largely stand spent on development programmes being carried out in the province, they added.

Also, the PML-N leadership needs time to placate the party legislators lobbying for their favourites to get them chairmen and vice chairmen slots. The kingpins from districts of Rajanpur, Kasur, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib are more active and pressing the central leadership for favouring their favourites.

Party sources further say so far about 90 per cent of the independents have joined the PML-N and those who put up their efforts in bringing the Independents in also want the reward of accommodating their favourites.

The unopposed election of Khwaja Ahmad Hassan as UC-107 chairman is sub-judice before Lahore High Court. Hassan is also PML-N candidate for the lord mayorship of Lahore Metropolitan Corporation and the party wants going into next steps of the LB system after decision in his case, add the sources.

They expressed the possibility of election on the reserved seats before the budget and the rest following that, and the LG system going fully operational after Eidul Fitr in July.

PML-N Parliamentary Secretary on Information, Rana Muhammad Arshad told this scribe that the party was ready to go into the next phases of the LG system. However he said, it is for the election commission to announce schedule of elections for the reserved seats.

He said at the party level certain things relating to LG process are being put in order while the nomination for chairman and vice chairmen slots in almost all districts has almost been completed. He counted the cases pending in court as the major reason for delay, adding there was no delay on part of the government regarding completion and running of LG system.