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YEAR-ENDER — CDGK: Long road to commissionerate system?


YEAR-ENDER: CDGK

Long road to commissionerate system?

By Urooj Zia (Pakistan Today; 31 December 2010)

KARACHI: This has been a turbulent year for the City District Government Karachi (CDGK), not least because of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) back-and-forth about the validity of the Sindh Local Government Ordinance (SLGO) of 2001, which eventually lapsed earlier this year.

Karachi Nazim Mustafa Kamal and Naib-Nazim Nasreen Jalil bade farewell to their posts, and were replaced by Administrator Fazalur Rehman. The positions of town nazims and naib-nazims and union councillors were also dissolved, and replaced by a municipal administrator each for the 18 towns of Karachi.

The pretext for all of this was the removal of a law promulgated by a dictator, former president Gen. (retd) Pervez Musharraf; and democratically-elected, ‘political’ town administrators have now been replaced by supposedly ‘apolitical’ interim caretakers from the bureaucracy. Local body elections, meanwhile, were initially scheduled for April 2010, when President Asif Ali Zardari announced in January 2010 that the elections would be held ‘within four months’. By March, Sindh Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani was issuing reassurations that the elections would be ‘held on time’. The elections in question, however, are yet to be conducted. The first couple of times, they were postponed on account of the unrest and cycles of violence and targeted killings in Karachi; then because the coalition partners in the Sindh Assembly could not decided on the form that the new local government would take: whether the commissionerate system would be brought back, or amendments will be made to the SLGO 2001, or whether the new system would be an amalgamation of the systems of 1979 and 2001. Later, the floods took their toll and the polls were delayed again.

In November, however, President Zardari announced that the local body polls would be conducted ‘within six months’, while Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan has declared 2011 as the ‘year for local body elections’. Word on the street also gives credence to rumours about the tabling and amicable resolution of the new local government act in the next session of the Sindh Assembly.

Several projects were completed in the meantime, and many others were initiated. Some, such as the much-derided Elevated Expressway on Sharah-e-Faisal, were shelved for good. Financial constraints, which were the bane of the existence of previous local government functionaries in Karachi, seem not to have deterred the new administrator, who has promised that the “development process in Karachi will continue without a break despite economic problems.” His words have been backed by action: three flyovers and several roads were opened for traffic in the last half of the year, and the construction work of four flyovers and more new roads is expected to begin in the next financial year.

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