Posted by: Administrator | 13 January, 2005

Devolution of Power and Responsibility: Foundation of Democracy

 

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

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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

involves

elections at three levels:

1. indirect elections at the Union Council and District levels

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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,

etc.

 

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.􀂏

ticket).

 

A directly elected Chief Mayor and Deputy Chief Mayor (contesting on a joint􀂏

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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

Financial Autonomy.—Like

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

departments/ministries.

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.

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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:

Composition.

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.

City District

Bigger cities will be run as City Districts.

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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.

District Judiciary

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.

Miscellaneous

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

Authority).

Time Schedule:

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

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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.

Conclusion:

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.

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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.

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