Most local government members, numbering in tens of thousands across the country, are not happy with their impending send-off. –Photo by APP Despite facing stiff opposition from those a notch above them in terms of power, the beleaguered local governments are getting a lot of support from elsewhere.
The PML-Q has emerged as their staunchest champion, as have some others under the leadership of Daniyal Aziz, a former head of the National Reconstruction Bureau that can take the credit — or blame — for the existence and performance of the current local government system. But is a struggling opposition party clutching at every straw to remain afloat or an individual that some say is still eyeing the job he had to relinquish not so long ago the only ones clamouring for the continuation of the local government system? Certainly not.
Most local government members, numbering in tens of thousands across the country, are not happy with their impending send-off. (After all, it is only too natural to be reluctant at the prospect of having to let go of the reins of power.) Civil society organisations, local and international donors and experts-cum-consultants — in fact all those who have invested time, money and energy in devising, financing and running the local government system — are also agonised.
So should be the proverbial man in the street. Even though his support for or opposition to the devolution of power has remained mute, it is he who is supposed to be the main beneficiary of the local government system that devolution intended.
Those who want to scrap these governments, therefore, should also keep the ordinary people in mind as they go about searching for alternatives. But before the scramble for alternatives starts, the existing system should be dispassionately analysed for what it is and what it could not be. If, even in its flawed current form, it turns out to have enabled relatively faster development and comparatively easier service delivery at the local level, then it would be advisable to retain it while making the necessary changes. Pushing the system off the cliff is not a smart choice when a pull here and a nudge there can make it work better.