PESHAWAR: Terming the proposed removal of district tier from the local government an attempt to return the powers to provinces, the district nazims unanimously decided to utilise all forums to resist the proposed amendment.
The Local Council Association (LCA) on Wednesday organised “convention on the government expected changes in the Local Government Act 2013,” to devise their future line of action.
LCA President Himayatullah Mayar said devolution of power to provinces after the 18th Constitutional Amendment overburdened the provinces and further devolution to district level was natural.
He said LCA was not fighting to seek more powers for nazims but was making efforts for transferring powers to the grassroots.
The LCA president said abolishing the district tier would be a violation of the article 32, 37(5) and 140-A of the constitution.
He warned the provincial government that abolishing district tier was a move against the democratic system.
In the absence of a district council the powers would go to the deputy commissioner who could not be made accountable to tehsil nazim, he added.
He said the “provincialisation” of authority would prove detrimental for democracy.
District Naib Nazim Peshawar Syed Qasim Ali Shah said all the district nazims present at the convention were from different political parties but would work for strengthening the local government. Syed Qasim Ali Shah added that they would launch joint efforts for the protection of the system. He said that those who were involved in developing the system should tell the masses as to who would be the boss in this new system.
The powers which had been devolved to the district were being transferred to provinces, he said and vowed that they would resist the move at every forum.
The naib nazim asked the government to take Local Council Association onboard before making any changes. He said that he would sound to the listeners as an opposition member but “we have learned from Imran Khan to support the just cause.”
“Towns would also not receive powers after the elimination of the district tier and the administrative management would revert to the 90s when deputy commissioners were running these units,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Maghfirat Shah, Chitral district nazim, said that politicians and political parties had not owned the third tier of the national level—the district government.
He said disowning the district tier had roots in the bureaucratic antagonism towards the system. “This system empowers the masses at grassroots and the improve governance would affect the stakes of certain elements in the country,” he added.
Maghfirat Shah said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s main problem was poor governance.
He added that when the PTI government showed unwillingness to empower the administrative unit at the district level, they lose legitimacy for demanding autonomy of the provincial and federal governments.
Col (R) Shabbir Ahmed Khan said that the government should also abolish the position of deputy commissioner and hand over the administrative powers to the assistant commissioner if it thought that district-level administration was not relevant.
Swat District Nazim Muhammad Ali Shah criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for discrediting politicians at every forum. He also criticised the sitting and previous chief ministers for not taking inputs from district nazims and avoided interaction with them.
District Nazim of Upper Dir Sahibzada Fasihullah said the removal of district tier would paralyse the system. He suggested holding councillors convention at the district level to devise strategies for opposing the proposed system.
Peshawar District Nazim Muhammad Asim Khan also rejected the removal of the district tier from the local government. He said the system was not perfect and had a room for improvement. He said changes in the act without taking LCA onboard would not be acceptable.
The nazims passed a resolution in favour of the continuity of the district tier and making it more autonomous. They agreed to hold conventions at district level till February 15.