Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N have been trying hard to shed the stereotype that haunts them; that of powerful landowners and industrialist flushed with money and perks, hungry for more. The success of Imran Khan’s triade against them hinged less on election fraud and more on how he painted a picture which people could identify with, people who had seen these parliamentarians roll all over them in their oversized SUV’s and stretched waistcoats. Were it not for a last ditch appeal to democracy we might have been seeing different faces in power. But now, with the danger gone, Nawaz and his ilk have cast aside the veil of democracy and public service and have jumped into the job they do best; make money.

After shamelessly dragging the matter of local government polls on and on to avoid devolving power to the grassroots level, the provinces have reluctantly agreed to hold them. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will hold them in May, Punjab in November and Sindh in March 2016. Without the Supreme Court dogging their every step, even this artificially delayed date would not have been possible. With the MNA’s and MPA’s trembling in their boots at the notion of losing unfettered authority, Nawaz Sharif caved in the face of pressure and decided to do something he has resisted for two years. The federal government quietly released Rs12.5 billion in discretionary development grants to legislators. Dubbed “community development schemes”, this money is taken out of the fund earmarked for Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Apart from the setback towards achieving MDGs the harm is obvious here, without local representation; there is no way to distribute development funds with equity. Now our legislator, whose prime job is to legislate, will be handed large funds for them to spend as they see fit; usually ending up in the pockets of favoured contractors and party workers or being spent in developing infrastructure around establishments they own. Ironically it is this exact issue which was used to criticise the previous PPP government. The government may be devolving authority soon, but it is intent on making as much money as they can before they do.