Elected Local Governments fail to deliver at grass root level in Balochistan

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: Photo By News Lens Pakistan /
: Photo By News Lens Pakistan / Malik Achakzai

Quetta: The capital city of Balochistan, Quetta, once compared to London due to its bowl like structure owing to its beautiful natural position, now has cracked roads and becomes a lake in a rainy day where boats are needed to go around it. Situation in the other districts of Balochistan is worst.

Nearly two years have gone by with newly elected local body government in order. The province elected around 10 thousands members who were voted on the union council and ward basis. The population from every constituency took part in the electioneering process. The democratic parties, social and right organizations as well as the European Countries congratulated Balochistan government.

“Our forefathers, including Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bezinjo and Khan Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai struggled against one unit similarly we strived for 18th Constitutional Amendment,” said Dr. Malik Baloch, Chief Minister Balochistan while addressing a conference on “Community Drive Development” held by Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP) in collaboration with European Union and Rural Support Programme Network (RSPN) at a local hotel here on Wednesday.

“We have gained provincial autonomy from Islamabad and now trying to decentralize power to local bodies, we have decentralized powers in health and educations sectors,” he said adding that it is the responsibility of the provincial government of Balochistan to decentralize the power at local bodies because through this a change could come, thus the coalition government increased funds of local bodies from one percent to 10 percent.

On the other hand the elected Mayor of Quetta Dr Kaleemullah Kakar is dissatisfied by the attitude of Balochistan government for not providing funds and power to the locally elected bodies in the province.

“Assembly can only legislate whereas the rest of the funds should be utilized through the local body governments. I have planned to call the chairmen and deputy chairmen from around the province and jam the Quetta city with our power and our masses; I have been elected through the votes equal to six Members of Provincial Assembly,” Dr. Kalimullah Khan Mayor Quetta Municipal Corporation told News Lens Pakistan.

Provincial Minister for Local Government Sardar Mustafa Khan Tareen could not be reached for a comment.

Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan, MNA and Provincial Vice President Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party told News Lens Pakistan, “Establishment is the hurdle in the way of decentralization of power to local bodies; our party believes in local democracy and as National Finance Commission Award there used to be a Provincial Finance Commission Award in the local bodies act but the authorities from establishment disrupted everything by removing that Paragragh.”

Shah Muhammad, one of the elected councilor, told News Lens Pakistan that he’s hiding his face from his voters in the street, as he cannot do anything for them. “I wish I could solve their issues like drinking water, running basic health units, enrolment of children in schools and looking after ghost school issue,” he added.

“Provincial government does not show willingness to decentralize the power; their MPAs are only earning people through utilizing budget directly; completely bypassing locally elected governments in every district,” Shah said.

The Balochistan government speedily conducted local election before any other province of the country, but now they use delay tactics to utilize the billions of PKR budget through local governments. “In our province elected MPAs work for their parties and groups instead of providing services to the masses equally,” Salma Baloch, 26, a Human Rights and Social Activist from Khuzdar said while talking to News Lens Pakistan.

Only empty slogans will not work; people need and demand services to be provided on ground instead of longer speeches when political parties show “green gardens” to the poor voters on election days.

She added that the political parties in Balochistan’s coalition government are violating democratic norms by ignoring the locally elected governments across districts, towns, metropolitan cities, union councils and municipal committees.

Habib Jan a researcher from the Strategic Studies Department at Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad told News Lens Pakistan that in Balochistan the “Might is Right” policy is adopted by the so-called democratic government. “Government is only by the name; nothing would be delivered in the form of local governments these governments were only elected after the pressure of the then Chief Justice of Pakistan. Otherwise everyone taking the baton of rule in Balochistan always favors traditionalism,” he added.

The earlier local governments were elected in the era of martial laws even in former army dictator and then President (R) General Pervez Musharaf elected local bodies twice and those practices produced enough young leadership as a new blood to the country’s political lot.

“I do not understand the mix and vague logic of democratic parties for delaying services to go through local level; former Pakistan Peoples’ Party led government did not conduct local government elections in all its tenure from 2008 to 2013,’ Abida Khan Kakar, Educationist and Social Activist told News Lens Pakistan.

Abida further said that the women, minority members and youth councilors can be practical leaders for the new generations if they are given chance to fulfill their duties and remain among the masses of their constituencies. This may be a risk felt by the traditionalist political parties in Pakistan.

Democracy can be practiced as a system after the parliament and assemblies provide basic services to masses on their doorsteps through locally elected governments says Salam Khan Mandokhail, a lawyer, while talking to News Lens Pakistan.

“Provincial assemblies and its ministers only legislate but the case in Pakistan is opposite; the elected members of provincial assemblies and governments never decentralize power to local governments,” he said.

The vows the elected government made are yet not proved practically. “We sit idly and cannot construct the roads, drainage system, drinking water, the functionality of Basic Health unit; these are the needs of people who voted me for,” a youth town member of the former of Zhob (Former Fort Sandman) Mirwali Khan said.

Sharifuddin Khan told News Lens Pakistan that people of Balochistan hoped from nationalists that they would deliver in the form of development. The former government had tired them by “malpractices of power, corruption, poor peace and bad security situation”. People need mega projects and hope for better communication, health, education and peaceful existence and these were part of the manifestos of “nationalist parties before going to election in 2013; feel a fool after experiencing them with poor performance till the date.”

“MPAs and ministers are unwilling to provide their power of fund to go through locally elected leaders. The local system will not result by mere election they need to be provided power and funds that would go to streets and village level, then we can say that yes democracy is a system we have applied in Balochistan,” Zaman Khan Tareen, MPhil Scholar from University of Balochistan Economics Department told News Lens Pakistan.

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