The Supreme Court of Pakistan, in a verdict issued in April, directed the provincial governments to announce the timetable for local bodies’ polls. Four years ago local governments had been unceremoniously closed down by the provincial administrations. Since then there has been a lack of grass-roots democracy for the Pakistanis, which ironically is being denied to them by the very democratic parties they put in power.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan, in a verdict issued in April, directed the provincial governments to announce the timetable for LB polls. Four years ago local governments had been unceremoniously closed down by the provincial administrations. Since then there has been a lack of grass-roots democracy for Pakistanis, which ironically is being denied to them by the very democratic parties they put in power.
The statistics as revealed through surveys about popularity of political parties among the masses are, at this moment not a searing headache for the incumbents but they are not willing to put those to the test in a LB showoff. As if it was hard enough struggling to keep vote banks in the central Punjab, down in the south the calls for a Seraiki province have gathered momentum, a demand given voice by local leaders and the federal government. It would not be in their political interest and could be quite damaging but the question is should they not consider public interest over their own?
After all as the leading opposition party in the parliament they have been taking the high moral ground and condemning the federal government over lack of principles and well rightly so. However, it is their turn to show that they are any different when it comes to a conflict between party and public interest. Were the PML-N to take this courageous step it would send the right message and remove any misgivings regarding their widely perceived sense of insecurity. Also any insistence that LB elections be held on a non-party basis should be immediately retracted as nothing shows more fear than a political party not wanting to participate under the party banner. Also if elections were indeed contested on a non-party basis the very worst of politics will be on view. Horse-trading and under hand deals will be made as a rule. The allegiance of the LB representatives can be most conveniently acquired as their funding is after all controlled by the provincial government. Without prior party affiliation the LB representatives would not even have moral restrictions in joining the camp where the money is. What’s more they wouldn’t even be called turncoats.
In Balochistan local body elections are of the utmost importance for the Baloch people as their sense of deprivation and disconnect from the government is at an all-time high. The unrest which continues in Balochistan calls for greater political activity in Balochistan as they will have a platform at the grass-roots level to convey their grievances. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudry, himself from Balochistan, observed, ‘there is a huge gap between the people and the government, the elections will empower the people.’ Justice Chaudhry further said that the government of Balochistan should hold elections despite the problems it faces, because ‘this will help the province to restore peace in the region.’