Published On: Tue, Dec 31st, 2013
Published in Category: Islamabad

Proposed LB system for Islamabad should be according to aspirations of citizens

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Islamabad: The proposed local bodies system for Islamabad should be according to aspirations of citizens of federal capital and recommendations of concerned stakeholders through comprehensive consultative process may be incorporated for its further improvement.

This was demanded by the participants of Consultation on draft Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Bill-2013 which was organized by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) and the United National Development Program (UNDP) at local hotel of Islamabad. The event was attended by society political party leaders, civil society representatives, academia, technical experts, citizens and other relevant stakeholders.

The participants demanded local bodies election on party basis, uniform system and equal opportunities for inhabitants of rural and urban areas of Islamabad, effective representation of women (33%) , youth & minorities (5%) and disabled (1%), spending of income for welfare of Islamabad‘s citizens generated through levying GST on services, empowering local government to collect property tax, review of Islamabad ‘s master plan as per growing needs of the citizens and effective and strong local government structure to address the problems of citizens of Islamabad.

The participants also termed local governments as “nurseries of democracy” as they promote political education in its widest sense, serving as training grounds for both local leaders and voters. This system a encourages equitable participation by providing a larger group of citizens’ access to political office and lead to a deepening of democracy by allowing them to have power over decision making at every level of government.

Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director Centre for Civic Education Pakistan informed that a ruling by the Supreme Court has led to the revival of the local government system in Pakistan with all the provinces developing local government legislation. An accountable local government system for Islamabad has been overdue as the capital’s population has remained unrepresented at the local level since its birth. Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Bill was tabled to the National Assembly in December-2013 which will allow the citizens of Islamabad to participate in the governance of their city.

Mr. Aftab Alam shed light over different salient features of the 64-page proposed act. Senator Professor Saeeda Iqbal of PPP, Dr. Shahzad Waseem of PTI, Rizwan Sadiq of PML (Q), Syed Ibrar Rizvi of PPP, Ch. Shafique also spoke on the occasion. They informed that that representatives of ten political parties had already met and all were of the similar view on local bodies elections at Islamabad so that the citizens of Islamabad might get opportunity to get their problems resolved at grass root. They also demanded that the right of oversight should rest with elected public representatives from Islamabad in National Assembly and the Senate.

The speakers from civil society, Naseer Memon, Aniq Zafar, Nadeem Iqbal, Dr. afzal Babar, Muddasser Alam and Tahir Malik stressed the need to establish local government that meets the constitutional benchmarks of political, administrative and fiscal devolution.

The participants also agreed to form a committee that would deliberate on the proposed local bodies act, invite written suggestions from citizens of Islamabad so that the recommendations may be incorporated in the act.