March 24; The Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2021 (PLGO 2021), after an extension of 90 days by the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, is set to expire on June 10, 2022 and unless it is passed by the Punjab Assembly, holding of local government elections in Punjab might not be possible. These concerns were raised at the Consultative Forum organized by PILDAT in collaboration with the UNDP on the subject of Effective Local Governments at Lahore.
Mr. Abdul Hameed, Director Elections, ECP, shared with participants that the ECP has concluded the process of delimitation in Punjab for holding Local Government elections. Since candidates cannot contest LG elections as independents, they are required to enlist with the ECP as electoral group. This process of enlistment has begun and will be concluded by March 28, 2022. He also shared that the ECP had proposed a number of amendments in the Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2021 (PLGO 2021) to the provincial government though there is no movement forward on these.
MPA Ms. Khadija Umar, member of the Punjab Assembly Standing Committee on Local Government and Community Development which is currently reviewing the PLGO 2021, shared that the review is on-going though it has not been concluded.
Participants at the Forum in Lahore joined the national consensus that the Constitution of Pakistan needs to be amended to clearly define role, term and responsibilities of the third tier of local governments in Pakistan. Unless the Constitution defines the role of Local Governments much like the role, domain and duration of national and provincial governments, provincial governments will continue to undermine the crucial third tier of local governance across Pakistan.
In his welcome remarks, Mr. Qasim Janjua said that the UNDP has been working with National and Provincial Governments to strengthen effective and accountable democratic governance. Earlier, together with PILDAT, UNDP had organized consultative forums on the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021. Since preparations are underway to hold local government elections across 4 provinces, consultation forums are organized in provincial capitals to gather recommendations from citizens on how to have effective local government system in Pakistan.
In her presentation, Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director, PILDAT shared a comparative analysis of the current system of local governments in place across 4 provinces of Pakistan. She underscored that system of democratic governance in Pakistan remains incomplete without effective third tier of local governments.
Punjab MPAs who joined the forum included Ms. Mussarat Jamshed, MPA (PTI) and Ms. Khadija Umer, MPA (PML), Member, Standing Committee on Local Government and Community Development. Representatives of political parties included Mr. Rizwan Mumtaz, Advisor (PML) and Syed Muhammad Agha Raza, Former MPA (Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen), Former Provincial Minister, Secretary General Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen. The forum was also joined by Ms. Ayesha Hamid, Senior Advocate Supreme Court, Mr. Iftikhar Ahmed, Senior. Analyst, Mr. Habib Akram, Analyst, Dunya News, Mr. Hafeez ullah Niazi, Senior Analyst and Ms. Sara Shafi, Program Associate, HRCP. Academics who joined the forum included Prof. Dr. Muhammad Younis, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, FC College, Prof. Dr. Asma Awan, Head of Department, Political Science, Kinnaird College for Women University, Prof. Dr. Irum Khalid, Dean, Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab, Prof. Dr. Gulshan Majeed, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab, Prof. Dr. Amanullah, Dean, Law College, University of the Punjab, Prof. Dr. Rehana Hashmi, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab, Ms. Sara Ahmed, Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Leads University, Ms. Dureshahwar, Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Kinnaird College for Women University. Students from FC college joining the forum included Mr. Abdul Malik Ahad and Mr. Zeeshan Naeem.
Members of 17th Youth Parliament who joined the forum included Mr. Ibraz Ajmal Butt, Deputy Chairperson, National Security Committee II (External Security and Defence), Ms. Sadaf Bilal Ansari, Syeda Rida Fatima, Ms. Malaika Zafar and Mr. Arsam Tufail Butt.