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EditorialLG polls for Sindh?

LG polls for Sindh?

An empowered local government system paves the way for any democracy to flourish. People can voice their issues directly to their council leaders who are elected to provide basic civic amenities, from fixing sewerage drains to potholes. In this respect, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s announcement that the provincial government is ready to hold LG polls in February or March 2022 is much welcomed. The local body election in the province have been much delayed amid the Sindh and centre’s conflict pertaining to the 2017 census results.

Talking to media at the mausoleum of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, Murad said, “We are ready after legislation regarding LG elections. The PPP will form next government in Sindh as we have done everything in the interest of the province.” But one may wonder how a toothless local body system will be in the interest of the province?

Last month, the ruling PPP passed the Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which dissolved much of the powers previously given to municipal organisations and tightened the government’s control over local bodies. Section 14-A has been added in the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, through the amendment and it reads: “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the government shall have powers to amend, alter, add or remove any entries from the Schedules, by notification in the official gazette.” In the wake of this, even Karachi Municipal Corporation has been rendered toothless.

Under the ruling PPP, the state of the province has worsened over the years with heaps of garbage also finding its permanent place on streets. With a powerless LG system, it is then safe to assume that little would change for the better. Moreover, Murad said that the provincial government has requested the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold the LG polls latest by March. Perhaps the minister must be reminded that not only has the recently passed bill not been fully implemented but the delimitation of constituencies required to hold the polls is yet to be carried out. The process usually takes 80 days to complete and with no date announced for it to begin until the time of writing, how are the polls going to be held in March is anybody’s guess.

The ruling PPP must realise that actions speak louder than words and with less than two years left for the next general elections to take place, it must come true to its many promises.

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