National conference under SPO lead of AAWAZ program with consortium partners.Speakers and participants of the national conference demanded of the provincial governments to hold by government elections with immediate effect and provide constitutional protection of Local Governments.
The conference was wide attended by AAWAZ program citizens of 45 districts of KP and Punjab province, women and minorities, civil society activities, academics, legislators and political parties. Nursrat Sahar Abbassi PML (F) represented Sindh perspectives. Ms. Bushara Gohar, Awami National Party, and Ms. Maliha Ali, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, spoke about the progress of Local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Senator Hasil Bejenjo, National Party, explained the factors of success case of Balochistan LG election. He also pledged that NP being ally of Federal Government would take frontal role to table LG constitutional Protection bill.
Balochistan government was lauded, for being the only provincial government to have held LG elections so far.Legislators from Balochistan said that the province, which itself has been victim of power centralization, understands the importance of devolving powers down.
Speakers highlighted the role of political parties to hold LG elections and emphasized the need to support constitutional protection of LGs. Key Note speakers, Naeem Mirza, CEO, Aurat Foundation and Zahid Islamabad underlined the connection between democracry and Local governments, history of LG in Pakistan and barriers to the constitutional protection of LGs.
The AAWAZ Charter of Demand (CoD) presented called for:
Recognizing local governments as the ‘primary tier’ of governance through a constitutional amendment.
Determining a time frame for constituting local governance (for example, within three months of holding general elections) and make provisions to ensure that this schedule is adhered to.
Strengthening the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and district election commission offices to ensure smooth and impartial organization of elections.
Ensuring representation of women and excluded groups in local government by amending Article 32 of the Constitution accordingly.
Similarly, the provincial governments are urged to take the following actions:
Facilitating the ECP to carry out delimitation of constituencies (in case of Punjab) as soon as possible, or, in case of KP, hold local government elections as soon as possible given that delimitation has taken place.
Empower local Governments through enactment of subordinate legislation to clearly define their functions.