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The issues of local government in Pakistan: The conundrum of policy making process

Dr. Saeed Shafqat, Director, School of Public Policy, Forman Christian College University, Lahore


The author argues that provincial autonomy and path dependence are among the dominant factors that have shaped the latest Local Government (LG) acts recently enacted by the provincial assemblies of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. Yet, the LG acts of 2013 are distinguished by the fact that these are imposed neither by a military regime nor by the federal government; these have been drafted and adopted by the provincial assemblies after much debate and with a sense of ownership. The previous local governments suffered from legitimacy crisis and lack of ownership. The LG acts recently passed by the provincial assemblies are fragmented and driven by considerations of maintaining the status quo, rather than seeking to innovate and think out of the box for establishing transparent and accountable governance.

This paper is divided into three parts. The first part sets the context and poses key questions in light of the recent local government acts passed by the provinces. The second gives a historical overview and evolution of the local governments in Pakistan, recapping the previous LG acts (1959, 1969, 1979 and 2001) and how civil-military relations and the role of bureaucracy have played out vis-à-vis the local governments. The third concludes the discussion by analyzing the recent local government acts in terms of how they are impacted by the past events and by the interplay and power considerations of the political class and bureaucracy.

About the presenter:

Dr. Saeed Shafqat is the founding Director of the Centre for Public Policy and Governance at Forman Christian (college) University, Lahore. He obtained his PhD from University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. For Spring Semester 2012, he was Visiting Professor, South Asia at the College of Wooster, Ohio. Dr. Shafqat has been (June 2005- June 2007), Executive Director of the National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS), Islamabad. Prior to that, he was Quaid-i-Azam Distinguished Professor and Chair (March 2001- May 2005), Pakistan Center at the School of International Affairs and Public Policy (SIPA), Columbia University and continued to be Adjunct Professor at SIPA (2005-2010), teaching online courses. At Wooster, he taught two courses: Globalization and Transformation of Religion and Politics in South Asia. And Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan: Changing dynamics of religion, politics, security and Great Power Interactions. His research articles on culture, politics, security and various aspects of public policy, governance and civil service reform on Pakistan have been published in journals of international repute. His books include: Political System of Pakistan and Public Policy (1989) Civil- Military Relations in Pakistan (1997), Contemporary Issues in Pakistan Studies (2000, 3rd edition). New Perspectives on Pakistan: Visions for the Future (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2007) .He (co-authored with Raheem ul Haque), has just published a Monograph on Pakistan, Afghanistan and US Relations: Implications for the Future (Lahore: CPPG, 2011).

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/04/2014 12:30:00 PM,

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