Anti-govt protests in Pakistan by local body in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: The heads of local bodies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have announced that they and other councillors will stage street protests against the provincial government from today (Tuesday) to Nov 23 for ‘denying’ them development funds and ‘clipping’ their powers.

According to them, elected members of tehsil, village and neighbourhood councils will demonstrate outside the offices of the respective assistant commissioners, deputy commissioners and commissioners.

The local body members will begin a sit-in outside the provincial assembly’s building on Nov 24 and will stay put until their demands are met.

The decision for protests was made during a meeting on the premises of the tehsil council here on Monday with mayor of the Capital Metropolitan Government Zubair Ali in the chair.

Complain uplift funds denied, powers clipped

The participants included mayors of the city local governments and chairmen of tehsil local governments and village and neighbourhood councils.

Mayor of the Mardan city local government Himayatullah Mayar told Dawn that a two-tier local body system was introduced in half of the province a year ago and rest of the areas seven months ago, but unfortunately, not a single penny had so far been released by the provincial government to the local governments for development schemes.

Mr Mayar, who is also the president of the Local Council Association KP, said the Provincial Finance Commission Award was declared on June 22 putting the share of local bodies in the province’s annual development programme at Rs33 billion.

“Out of their Rs33 billion funds, not a single penny has been released to local bodies in violation of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Bodies Act 2013,” he said.

The association leader said after the denial of funds by the provincial government, scores of tehsil municipal authorities won’t be able to pay salary to their employees and that could trigger protests.

He said several departments, which previously worked under the administrative control of district governments, had been ‘provincialised’ through an amendment to the Local Government Act.

Mr Mayar said the government had slashed the major role of city mayors and council chairmen in TMAs, sewerage and sanitation and supervision, monitoring and inspection of non-devolved departments.

The meeting was attended by a large number of youth, farmers, women and minority councillors.

The participants complained about curtailed powers as well as Rs30,000 salary for tehsil council chairman saying the payment is less than of a Class-IV employee’s.

Peshawar mayor Haji Zubair Ali said the provincial government hadbeen denying the people due rights for a long time.

He said the amendment to LG law had paralysed local bodies across the province.

The mayor said the government conducted local body elections promising the provision to facilities to the people on their doorstep, but it, instead of keeping its word, increased the people’s problems by clipping powers of local bodies and their members.

The meeting was also attended by Pabbi tehsil council chairman Ghayour Ali, Upper Dir tehsil council chairman Rafiullah, Sharingal tehsil council chairman Shah Waliullah, Landi Kotal tehsil council chairman Haji Khalid Khan, Pishtakhaira tehsil council chairman Haroon Sifat, Mathra tehsil council chairman Faridullah and dozens of village and neighbourhood council heads.

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