Young voices on Kashmir

REVIEW: The local government system in Azad Jammu and Kashmir

2nd October 2020 | Reviewed by Hunain Mahmood
A 30-page report on the Local Government System in Azad Jammu and Kashmir has recently been published by Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms- a known research and training organization. A detailed analysis about the historic roots and evolution of the Local Government System has been explained in the report, along with a set of 21recommendations for consideration of the authorities. The report makes a solid case for the revival of the LBS in AJ&K, for which the elections have not been held since 1996. This system is aimed to make the local government more democratic and dutiful, and especially to empower the growing youth bulge. This will bring long-term positive effects in AJ&K. However, the failure of the renewal of the local bodies will result in the weakening of democratic institutions, the report claims.

The local government system in Azad Jammu and Kashmir:
Background, evaluation and the way forward

By Dr. Waqas Ali

Published by: Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR)
Pages: 30
Price: Rs. 500


This report further highlights the significance of the restoration of the local bodies. It reveals that the political governments and members of the Legislative Assembly are against the idea of local government because they fear losing their authority and financial powers. As a result, people have lost a democratic platform for purposeful engagement in politics.

Although, the four provinces of Pakistan have not been able to evolve a vibrant local bodies system yet it is reassuring that they at least had the elected bodies and a huge number of people went through this election process, unlike AJ&K.

Some valuable recommendations have been presented towards the end of the report, based on a survey wherein 400 young people participated, along with the information gathered through 30 interviews and several group discussions. According to the recommendations, the government of AJ&K should hold local government elections immediately.

The report suggests that young people of each gender should be given at least 25 per cent quota and the number of women should be at least 10 per cent of the total number of members. The local government should have the same tenure and elections schedule as that of the Legislative Assembly, the report proposes.

The recommendations further emphasize that the local government should be given financial and administrative powers as well as a separate budget. The development work, in the region, should be carried out by the local government and the Legislative Assembly should only perform its own functions i.e., law making.

This report has a substantial number of nicely placed and sourced tables and charts to highlight and underline the important messages. It is hoped that the Government of AJ&K will restore the Local Bodies System and will benefit from the recommendations presented in the report. This report is also worth reading for the political parties’ leadership and particularly for the civic activists who strive to bring change by participation of the citizens and devolution of power to the local level.

Hunain Mahmood

The writer is a student of Public Administration and Governance at NUML University, Islamabad. She can be reached at hunainmehmud101@gmail.com

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