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Central-local government relations in Pakistan since 1979

By Taj Moharram Khan


This thesis explores the pattern of relationship of local government institutions in Pakistan with the higher level of governments, particularly with the provincial governments, under whose jurisdictional purview they fall. Pakistan is a federation where the provinces are empowered to legislate on various aspects of the working of local councils. Despite being a provincial subject, the influence of the central government under both the military and civilian regimes has also been immense. To analyse this, field work was undertaken in two provinces of Pakistan (the Punjab and the N-W. F. P). In each a district was selected (Gujrat and Mardan respectively) and the working of their municipalities and district councils were studied in the context of the impact of party-politics, the administrative control exercised, and the implications of financial decisions taken by the higher levels of government.\ud \ud Part one of the thesis describes the origin and development of local government in the South Asian sub-continent, particularly an analysis of the initiatives taken for\ud their growth by military and civilian regimes during the years preceding independence.\ud \ud Part two consists of the case studies of four local councils and an analysis of the provincial-local government relations under the present Local Government Ordinance of\ud 1979 introduced by General Mohammad Zia-ul Haque.\ud \ud Part three reflects the concerns and recommendations of experts and those involved in the working of local government in Pakistan.\ud \ud The conclusions drawn from the thesis material show that, though local government institutions have been operating in an environment of political expediency and without assistance from the general political cultural background, they have been able to make positive contributions to the development of democracy and to the provision of local services for the general welfare of the people.\ud \ud Local government in Pakistan has suffered from gaps between theory and practice, public statements and practical realities, and a pervasive political context which has neglected the development of services. There has been a tendency to proclaim the virtues of local government in theory and to make promises to support local institutions but in practice to do much less and to continue with practices which do not enable local government and its services to flourish.\ud \ud The clearest exemplification of this is that periods of martial law, where democracy at a national level has been imperilled, have seen the positive encouragement\ud of local government and local democracy as a means of gaining popular support for the regime. In contrast, in periods of democratic central government, local institutions have proved to be obstacles to central authority, and they have been neglected or abused in\ud favour of a more bureaucratic mode of governing. Both military and civilian rulers have manipulated local institutions for their own benefit. The outcome has been that the relationship between centre and provinces and the provinces and the local institutions has never been balanced or fully articulated.\ud \ud At the local level, as illustrated in the case studies, the consequences has been a lower level of civic amenity than is either desirable or what local persons know is\ud practicable with a more stable institutional base. The past record of the cases studied shows that, despite the impact of local and national politics, real progress had been\ud made in services and in developing local democracy\u

Publisher: School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Year: 1996
OAI identifier:

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