Mr. Aslam Rind, Quetta City local body representative
What are the challenges facing newly elected local bodies in your province?
The scenario has entirely changed. The issues people face are more complex and problematic. With the influx of instant information and media, people are much more aware than in the past and they seek sustainable development and permanent resolution of issues.
In the rest of the world, local bodies have been vested with massive administrative and fiscal powers and work domains. The mayors of London and New York happen to be more powerful than national government offcials. However, in Pakistan, local government (LG) institutions are currently only supposed to look after municipal services. I fear we will feel helpless if administrative and fiscal powers guaranteed by law are not fully decentralised to the grassroots level.
As a newly elected LG representative, how do you define your key role and responsibilities?
According to the LG Law, we are duty bound to take steps to improve civil services and public health and to promote education. Some of the key roles we have to perform include: enforcement of compulsory primary education; master planning for development expansion and improvement; environmental conservation; establishing maternity centres for the welfare of women, infants and children; and establishing and managing hospitals and dispensaries.
What are the key tasks that the local body you have been elected to needs to perform during its five year tenure?
Poor law and order has caused widespread migration from volatile parts of the province. About 3 million people live in the provincial capital of Balochistan, which was initially built for 50,000 people. The population burden has resulted in the collapse of public services.
The previous regimes' lack of a serious attitude and planning for the future took the situation from bad to worse. Key sectors, such as education and health, are on the verge of collapse. Traffic is out of control. Lawlessness, killings, and unabated subversive acts have created chaos in the province. In this warlike situation, steps on a war-footing are required to bring tangible change in peoples' lives. But contrary to that, we have been confined with regard to our job descriptions. Unlike other parts of the globe, we are powerless and the provincial government seems reluctant to devolve powers to the grassroots level, as parliamentarians are more interested in getting funds worth millions of rupees instead of taking an interest in legislation, policy formulation and thinking beyond their constituencies' benefit.
What steps will you take to improve the involvement of women and youth in identifying public policy priorities?
Women and youth are vital to bring tangible change in society's structure. Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution call for the protection of women and further stipulate that there be seats reserved for women in legislative assemblies. In view of the role of women and youth as enshrined in the constitution, I would make the utmost effort to engage them in identifying public policy priorities. More importantly, I am in favour of direct elections of women instead of the allocation of reserved seats in the LG institutions.