Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Floods and the Local Governments.

Local governments are no more ,when we need them most.People and flood victims have complained of inadequate and inefficient relief activities.Government circles respond that they are doing whatever they can.Actually government is severely handicapped due to non-existence of local governments which were dissolved some six months back.Obviously no body knew then,that there would be floods ,and we would need the local governments badly.In any case keeping local governments in long abeyance is not a good policy.After a successful grounding in period of local governments traditional provincial governments linkages and organisation is no more.Although there is LG civil bureaucracy and administration in place,the representative efficacy and efficiency is not to be found.

The argument that the LG bureaucracy is there to look after the state of affairs is not a fair and right argument.If we accept this argument,it can go very far and would be obviously inconvenient to its proponents.One could then argue that there is no need of civilian democratic government because the army and civil bureaucracy can and is doing what is required.

Mobilization of people and keeping in contact and in touch is usually done much better by peoples representatives and hence the rationale of local governments.This is no time and place to repeat the debate in favor of local government.It is obvious and that is why we have adopted it along with most countries in the world.Unfortunately in Pakistan,provinces and political parties have not found peace with local governments. There is a deep seated suspicion and sense of rivalry even antagonism.Military dictators have used local bodies for their false legitimization by bringing in local bodies as a substitute for civilian rule and as a parallel focus of power.

No doubt there is a loss in direct exercise of power.It is still their but routed through local representatives.To enjoy and have peace with indirect power requires some practice in democratic traditions which have not been allowed to take route due to successive military interventions and long absence of civilian and democratic rule.It is wondered why PPP government should have problem with local government.It is adequately represented usually in rural Sindh.In Punjab and NWFP it shares local power with other major contestants.In Punjab there is currently a personal style of administration prevailing and hence procrastination to return to local governments.PPP does not seem to have this kind of problem in particular in Sindh.

What to do now.There are floods and the aftermath.Local governments have been dissolved on the completion of their terms.There was an intermission and procrastination due to certain changes that the new PPP government and also others wanted to bring in.Consensus among partners does not seem to have emerged.It may be difficult and inopportune to organize and contest elections when whole cities have come under water and are totally submerged.It is time to be creative and think of the out-of-box solutions.Think about reviving previously elected local governments for the next one year.The legal modalities could be worked out at-least in Sindh.After all it is a provincial subject.Others may follow or be persuaded simultaneously.

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