March 15; Participants at a Consultation Forum on Effective Local Governments believed that a constitutional amendment is a must in Pakistan to define key features of an effective local government system across Pakistan’s provinces to devolve political, administrative and financial responsibilities to Local Governments. The Forum was organized by PILDAT in collaboration with the UNDP.
The Forum was moderated by Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT, while speakers included Mr. Ali Asghar Sial, Joint Provincial Election Commissioner, (Elections) Sindh, Mr. Kaiser Ishaque, Assistant Resident Representative UNDP-Pakistan, Mr. Ali Al-Bayati, Chief Technical Adviser, SELP UNDP and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director, PILDAT. A representative of the Sindh Local Government Department joined the consultation as an observer.
Mr. Ali Asghar Sial, Joint Provincial Election Commissioner, (Elections) Sindh, said that the ECP is prepared to hold local government elections in keeping with their constitutional responsibility. He shared that the delimitation process in Sindh is nearing completion and will be finalized by March 24. The final schedule of Local Government elections in Sindh will be announced soon after by the ECP in consultation with the Sindh government.
Former Governor Sindh, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider said that it is the political parties that have failed to institute a system of effective local governments despite constitutional obligations. He believed that Article 6 of the Constitution should be applicable to successive provincial governments for violating Constitution on Local Government system.
In his welcome remarks, Mr. Kaiser Ishaque said that it was his pleasant duty to welcome a diverse set of participants including MPAs, representatives from political parties, CSOs, public intellectuals and media to discuss the important subject of effective local governments in Pakistan. He said that the UNDP’s project on Strengthening Electoral and Legislative Processes (SELP) works to promote accountability and transparency.
Earlier, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT, said that the system of democratic governance is incomplete without effective devolution of financial and administrative powers to the local tier. PILDAT has been advocating for reforms for effective devolution of powers to local governments.
Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director PILDAT, presented a rationale on the need for effective local government system in Pakistan as well as a comparative analysis of the current system of local governments in place across 4 provinces of Pakistan.
The Consultation Forum was joined Lt. Gen. (Retd) Moinuddin Haider, Chairman Fatimid Foundation, Former Governor Sindh and former Interior Minister, Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin, Senior Journalist and Mr. Mazhar Abbas, Senior Journalist.
Representatives from political parties included Mr. Shiraz Ali, Provincial Secretary General Sindh, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Mr. Mohammad Hussain, MPA MQM-P, Mr. Rehan Hashmi, former MNA MQM-P, Ms. Sabeen Ghouri, former MPA MQM-P, Mr. Junaid Yousafzai, MQM-P, Syed Mustafa Kamal, Chairman Pak Sarmzameen Party (PSP), Dr. Arshad Vohra, Vice Chairman PSP, Dr. Fauzia Hameed, former MNA PSP, Maulana Ihsanullah Takarwi, former MPA Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Pakistan (JUIP) and Mr. Mahboob Khan, JUI-P.
Academics who joined the forum included Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali, Department of Political Science, University of Karachi, Mr. Mahboob Muqadam, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Karachi and Mr. Ahsan-ul-Haq Research Associate, Department of Political Science, University of Karachi.
Representatives from CSOs included Mr. Asif Iqbal, Executive Director, Social Policy Development Centre (SPDC) and Mrs. Naveed Aamir, Senior Economist at the Social Policy Development Centre (SPDC), Mr. Sarwar Khalid, Project Coordinator SHEHRI and Ms. Hawwa Fazal, Research Assisdtant, SHEHRI.
Members of 17th Youth Parliament Pakistan who joined the forum included Ms. Tuba Athar, Chairperson Youth Parliament Pakistan Standing Committee on National Security-III, Ms. Fatima Sumaiya, chairperson Youth Parliament Pakistan Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, Ms. Mashra Arshad, Chairperson Youth Parliament Pakistan Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, Mr. Muhammad Safwan Khan, Deputy Chairperson Youth Parliament Pakistan Standing Committee on Foreign Relations IV, and Mr. Muhammad Ali, Member 17th YPP.