The Election Commission of Pakistan has issued the schedule for the formation of local body constituencies in Punjab, which states that local body constituencies would be placed across the province from December 16, 2022, to January 6, 2023. Following the completion of this process, the preliminary list of constituencies will be published on January 7, and the final list of local body constituencies will be released on February 12, after which local body elections will be held in Punjab in the last week of April, according to the Election Commission’s schedule. The Election Commission has released a calendar for local body elections in Punjab for the third time in recent years, although the extent to which this schedule has been executed is questionable. In countries where democracy is a form of government, efforts are made to strengthen and stabilize each unit of democracy, and governments aim to devolve powers in this regard so that improved administration can be used for better delivery. Local council elections in Pakistan, on the other hand, are frequently overlooked, and elections have never been held on time, resulting in the people being unable to elect their representatives at the union or village council, tehsil or town, and subsequently at the district levels. This is important, as transferring powers to the lower level not only addresses people’s concerns faster but also decreases the pressure on provincial and national level legislators, allowing them to focus more on legislation.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government disbanded institutions established under the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 in May 2019, and there have been numerous discussions about local bodies and elections since then, but in practice, these institutions have been suspended. Due to revisions in the Election Commission’s guidelines, seats are being delineated for the third time in Punjab, with the promise of local elections following, however, this does not appear to be possible in the current scenario. There have been numerous modifications to the law concerning the establishment of local governments, and there may be more, but the important question is whether there has been any change in the minds and attitudes of political party leaders. Every political party revolves around a personality, and that personality has the power to lead the entire party whenever and wherever they want. Our political leaders must see that their undemocratic behaviour is harming both the country and society, and they must change their ways. Because local government bodies are seen as the fundamental unit of the democratic system, strengthening them is a necessity for the stability of democracy that cannot be overlooked under any circumstances.