March 23, 2000
Devolution of Power and Responsibility: Establishing the Foundation of Democracy
The statement by. General Pervez Musharraf, Chief Executive of Islamic Republic of Pakistan At the Press Conference held at Islamabad on 23 March, 2000
Today, exactly sixty years ago, Pakistan Resolution was adopted in Lahore wherein our elders envisaged a state which would be • A modern, progressive Islamic State where there was no place for sectarianism or bigotry.
• A state with a sound democratic system in which governance rested with the genuine representatives of the people.
• A prosperous and stable nation with well established institutions.
However, this did not happen because
A. Our existing administrative system is based on a colonial structure of control/rule rather than serve with no community participation in development.
B. In the present political structure there is a political void below the provincial level. This is exploited by our so-called representatives, who control the destiny of the people through vested personal/family interests. The political structure, we plan, involves a trilateral distribution of responsibilities between the Centre, the provinces and the district representing the basic (lowest) rung of democracy. What I am dealing with today and what we have finalized till now is the
fundamental (lowest) tier of democracy—the District and Local Government. Indeed,
democracy starts from here. From here we will move upwards to provincial and national
levels in due course of time. Thus, the framework being announced today represents a
practical and concrete fulfillment of the Pakistan Resolution.
23rd March, 2000 represents the Day of the beginning of the Pakistan Revolution, a
peaceful, constructive, democratic, dynamic revolution, a revolution whose sole objective
is to place in the hands of the people, the power to shape their own destiny. Our
Government, therefore, sees devolution as the first step towards the re-building and the
restoration of the people’s faith in the Government of their own country. With this new
concept of elected community governments, an unprecedented transfer of power will take
place from the elite to the vast majority. The people them- selves will become
empowered to take charge of the. Foundation of democracy and a system by in which
they are governed.
Guiding Principles Keeping within the true spirit of our Constitution and recognizing the
aspirations of the people of Pakistan, we enunciated five basic guiding principles for the
District Government we want to evolve:
a. Let the people be masters of their awn destiny.
b. Subordinate Government functionaries to the elected representatives and make
them serve the people.
c. Provide the common man with speedy justice at the door steps.
d. Provide fiscal autonomy to the districts making them self-financing;
e. Achieve all this through creation of a system where the district becomes the
basic “Governance and Development” unit of the country.
I will now spell out the “District and Local Government” plan in outline. Broadly, this
elections at three levels:
1. indirect elections at the Union Council and District levels
2. Indirect elections for the Tehsil Councils.
3. Union Council
This will consist of 26 members elected through direct adult franchise, using multiple
member ward system. The chairman will be elected directly and he will also be
automatically a member of the District Assembly. Break down of the Union Council
will be as under:
General seats 8 men 8 women•
Workers/Peasants 4 men 4 women•
For the first time in Pakistan, urban areas will also elect union councils.
Minorities 1 man I womanMonitoring Committees and Citizens’ Community
participation at grass roots level Monitoring Committees will be formed from amongst
the union council members and these in turn will create Citizens’ Community Boards in
villages, towns and cities for monitoring functioning of all lower level departments!
Amenities like hospitals, basic health units, schools, colleges,
Boards.—To encourage citizenthanas, transport, irrigationVillage
constitute the village council.
Councils.—Members of the union council that represent a given village willDistrict level Structure
The District Government will compose of:
A District Assembly of directly elected members.
A directly elected Chief Mayor and Deputy Chief Mayor (contesting on a joint
The District Administration; and the District Police.District Assembly—
a. General seats: 50
b. Women seats: 10 (Elected indirectly by the Union Councilors).
c. Workers/ 3 (Elected indirectly by Peasants: the Union Councilors).
d. Minorities: 3 (Elected indirectly by the Union Councilors).
It will consist of 66 members with break up as follows: —Powers
Commission will be formed to work out the Provincial Finance Award for allocation of
funds in a transparent and accurate way to districts. Over and above these mandatory
allocations, the Districts. Assemblies will also have legislative authority to mob
additional revenue. Thus, being financially self-reliant the District Assemblies will now
work out their own development and approve the budget for the same.
Structure of the District Administration will be as under:
a. The Chief Mayor will be personally responsible for District Administration.
b. He will have under him a senior government officer acting as the District
Coordination Officer (DCO) who in turn will coordinate the functioning of all
heads of government departments in district called the District Officers.
c. All the District Officers will maintain their links with their respective
d. The appointment of DCOs and also of all District Officers will be recommended
by the Chief Mayor and ratified by the Districts. Assembly by simple majority.
e. Removal of the DCO or any Districts. Officer will require to be ratified by 2/3
majority of District Assembly.
the National Finance Award, a Provincial FinanceChief Mayor. —
for development/improvement/progress of the district with the assistance of the DCO and
the district administration.
He will head the District. Administration and formulate policies/plansDeputy Chief Mayor. —
deputize for the Chief Mayor in his absence.
He will be the speaker of the District. Assembly and willDistrict Police.—the
equipping and maintaining of police for the districts. Head of District Police (District
Police Officer) will he selected by the Chief Mayor from a panel to be ratified by the
District Assembly. This police boss will operate directly under the Chief Mayor and not
through the DCO. Removal of the Police Chief or any other Police Officer on
recommendations of the Chief Mayor will require District Assembly ratification by 2/3
majority. Division will cease to exist. Provinces will deal directly with each district.
Province will be responsible for the raising, organizing, training,Tehsil Councils:
by all the Union Councilors. It will be headed by a Mayor elected by members of the
Tehsil Council. Each Tehsil Council will have: —
a. General seats — 25
b. Women Seats —
— Each Tehsil Council will have a total of 34 members elected indirectly5c. Workers/Peasants seats — 2
d. Minority seats — 2
In the new system of Tehsil Administration the urban/rural divide will be bridged.
Bigger cities will be run as City Districts.
Each City District will be divided into a number of towns. The City District will
comprise of the same structure of District Government as the Rural District with the
Tehsil being the towns.
Speedy justice will be provided and the same brought to the doorsteps of the people. How
this will be done? This will be done:
I. By increased capacity to handle cases through more courts.
II. By revival of Conciliatory Courts at Union Council level to pre-empt litigation of
cases. These will allow for an alternate, out of court dispute resolution system.
III. By addressing crimes against women. Special courts for women will be created.
IV. The voting age will be lowered from 21 years to 18 years in order to increase the
voters and to bring youth into the main stream.
Elections at both the District and Union Council levels will be on a non-party basis.
We are analyzing whether the minorities should vote through a joint or a separate
electorate. We are also analyzing feasibility of run off elections for the posts of Chief
Mayor, by Chief Mayor and all mayors to ensure that a winning candidate necessarily
polls over 51 % votes. Elections will be based on accurate, computerized electoral rolls
which are being produced with the assistance of NADRA (National Data and Registration
We very much wish we had accurate electoral rolls to use for these elections.
Unfortunately, these are all manipulated and distorted to the extent that nobody has faith
in them. On popular demand therefore, these have to be produced a new which is being
done ably by NADRA. To enhance transparency of these electoral rolls these will be
physically verified on ground and the Army will be used for the purpose. This, therefore,
imposes on us the constraint of coordinating the elections with the production of electoral
rolls. Elections will be held in two stages — first the Union Council levels commencing
in December 2000 in 15 districts and subsequently in February, March, April and May
(20 to 25 districts each time). In the second stage we will go for District Assembly
elections countrywide in July 2001. Insha Allah all governments/councils up to district
level will be in place by 14th August, 2001.
Here, I would like to say something about our provinces. The provinces are the geopolitical
pillars of the State of Pakistan. We are a Federation of constituent units and,
therefore, the principle of Federalism shall remain the central guiding principle of public
policy. Thus, because Pakistan is a Federation, devolution of power will have to proceed
from the federal to the provincial, and only thereafter, to the districts. Similarly, the
districts will remain within a provincial framework and the relationship of the districts
with the Federal Government will be through the provincial governments.
To conclude I think that for far too long, too much power and authority have been
concentrated in Islamabad. The entire administration system has been distorted and
disfigured. So extreme has been the interference by the Federal Government in local
affairs that there have been several instances in which elected Prime Ministers have
personally approved the selection of specific persons as SHOs of police stations.
I would like to emphasize that these new vastly empowered local bodies are
be a substitute for the Provincial Assemblies or the National Assembly and Senate and
neither are they going to be used as an electoral college for other levels of democracy.
The new local bodies are going to serve as the strong, grass-root level democratic
foundation of a political system in which at a second and third stage, the Provincial
Assemblies will be elected, to be followed by the election of a National Assembly and the
Senate. The new redistribution of power and responsibility between the Federation, the
provinces and the districts represents a real, authentic, fundamental change in the
structures of governance of our country.
Precisely, because this is a change of enormous significance for our people, our
Government has taken time to conceptualize and prepare the proposed framework. Each
element has been given detailed attention.
We would like to open this local governance plan for a thorough analysis/debate in the
national media stretching. From now to 14 August, 2000 on which date the final shape of
the District Government will be decided and the implementation machinery for the
elections set into motion.
PCPPI—648(2000) 1).EP— I 5-05-2000—1.000.