Problems of Local Government in Pakistan

Mon, 07/22/2013 - 05:39 -- Umar Farooq

Since the local government system has been a theoretical exercise only and not put to practice continuously, many problems are faced by the LG in Pakistan. Sporadically the system has been introduced differently under different governments, therefore, no proper infra-structure could be provided in this country.  From the very beginning in Pakistan, rural development, social welfare and local government has never been the priorities of the state, thus halfhearted efforts were made after thirty years after Pakistan came into being i.e. the ministry of local government, rural development and social welfare was created in 1976, while in India, these ministries were established right away from the year 1947. In Pakistan, strangely, the ministry was created at federal level and departments at provincial level. Political changes and lack of a national vision among the so called statesmen, has reached to the present state of affairs. Local government is very much democratic in nature and can grow and takes it roots in a democratic soil, in a democratic climate. Hitherto, no government has provided a climate conducive to the growth of the local government throughout the misgiving that people are not yet capable of delivering the goods. This has been an extreme insult to the people of Pakistan. Therefore, instead of giving the people the right of exercising their discretion, control mechanisms have been invented and practiced to fetter their discretion at every step of our national life. As a result the public felt frustrated and being a part of the state have been apart from the state. As the public have been kept away from the system due to the control mechanisms, the system has been dominated by bureaucracy, and the system of local self-government became a subordinate department of the provincial governments. The overall picture is that instead of promoting democratic values and culture, the institution has become an instrument for the perpetuation of bureaucracy or marshal law regimes.

Also Read:     Rural Works Program (RWP)         Porblems of Local Government        Advantages of Local Government

Problems of Local Government

Here are some problems associated with the institution of local government

  1. Political problems
  2. Constitutional problems
  3. administrative problems
  4. Operational problems
  5. Functional problems  and
  6.  Financial problems.

Political Problems

In Pakistan, people are attracted by power in the national / central or provincial government and they look down upon the local self-government. Unless an urge is created from within the people, the local self-government will remain a far dream. An effort should be made by the government to create an urge for local government by the people by;-

  1. Compelling the political parties to make LG as part of their manifesto
  2. Include LG in the school curricula.
  3.  Make the local government more strong
  4. Project the image of local government through mass media

Constitutional Problems

In the constitution of Pakistan, there is a guarantee that there will be a local government system in the country, but unfortunately, no attention is being paid to this aspect. When there is Marshal law in the country, there is local government, when there is elected government, efforts are made to strangulate the local government system.

Administrative Problems

The fact is that in Pakistan, the local self-government has been subordinate to the whims and wishes of the deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners in the past. These bureaucrats have played a havoc with system and have never allowed them to flourish. The Basic democracy system failed because the then executive converted the system into controlled democracy. It is thus necessary that the LG system be free from executive control.

Operational Problems

In Pakistan it is still believed if all the powers are transferred to the elected representatives, they will not be able to use them aptly or they will misuse them. Therefore, the governments at national and provincial level are always different and there is a tug-o-war between the central and even provincial governments.

Functional Problems

The local government system has nearly failed in Pakistan because there have been impediments in under taking their functions.  There has been a growing undertaking on the part of various departments / secretaries to take more and more functions and thereby have jeopardized the utility of local bodies as functional institution.