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EditorialLocal councils' restoration

Local councils’ restoration

The Punjab chief secretary was summoned by the Supreme Court as local governments have still not been restored in the province. The Supreme Court ordered the restoration of local councils seven months ago. Now, Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal and the Local Government and Community Development secretary have been given a week to come back with a positive response.

This delay in implementation of court orders regarding a very important issue points towards the inefficiency of the government. Local governments are imperative for the functioning of municipalities, without them the system becomes haphazard and that is what is happening in Punjab. The government machinery on the other hand has been slow in implementing court orders which were given so that immediate relief could be offered to the petitioners. Since the withdrawal of local governments, Punjab has seen a downfall in most areas. Some examples are that of the increasing sanitation problems in Lahore and the lack of preventative dengue spray. Lahoris were accustomed to such privileges during the previous government, however, now no such thing is being done due to the lack of active local governments. The government is failing in almost every area but this is directly affecting many people. Moreover, this specific area should not have been ignored as a court order was given for the issue.

This behavior shows the incompetence of the government machinery as observed by the chief justice. Moreover, the delay has also been seen as an offence by the courts because no matter the stance of the government or the personal preference of the chief secretary, the implementation of court orders is unavoidable. Those who petitioned for the transfer of power have been given the right by the constitution of getting the powers in a smooth transition manner, however, no such action has been taken even seven months after the order was given. The urge to control every minute thing from the centre has destroyed the whole system. This is unconstitutional and there must be reckoning as otherwise the Punjab government will continue to usurp powers of the local bodies who have the constitutional right to work in their respective municipalities.

What the government can do is implement its new local council laws and go for the new elections, if it has problems with the previous setups, mostly the backers of the opposition PML-N. But it cannot sit for a long time on the issues as the court is determined to see the local council functional. This is what the PTI used to say when it was not in power.

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