This post makes a critique of the Devolution of Power Plan 2001 that the Pervez Musharaf regime introduced in Pakistan in 2001. For more support, the post also provides a link for a PowerPoint presentation relevant to the topic at its end.
1. Structure of Devolution of Power Plan 2001
The Devolution of Power Plan 2001 provided three tiers, i.e. Union Council, Tehsil Council, and District Council. The following is Each of these tiers is briefly discussed below.
2. Union Council
According to the Devolution of Power Plan, the Union Council would be the lowest tier of the local system government. A Union Councilor, an elected representative of the people, would be the head of the council. The Union Nazim got his work done through the Union Council secretary.
3. Tehsil Council
Tehsil Council was the second tier of the government at the local level. Tehsil Nazim and Tehsil Naib Nazim headed the Tehsil council. Union councilors elected the Tehsil Nazim and Naib Nazim from among themselves. The heads of the tehsil Council got their work done through Tehsil Municipal Officers and other officials at the Tehsil level.
4. District Council
District Council was the third and last tier of the local government implemented by General Musharaf. District Nazim and District Naib Nazim headed the District government. They got work done through the District Coordination Officer (DCO) and other officials of district administration.
A critique and analysis
What were the merits of the Devolution of Power Plan 2001?
According to the Devolution of Power Plan, 2001 powers devolved to the elected officials. The new system made all government departments accountable to the District Council. Government officials i.e. Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and, the district coordination officers (DCOs) worked under the control of the District Nazims legally and administratively.
Unlike previous ordinances, Musharaf’s local government system overcame the urban-rural. The military government removed the previous hierarchical relationship between the local and provincial governments. In contrast to the past, now, the new system provided a direct link to the President’s office through a number of institutions, e.g. the National Reconstruction Bureau and the Devolution Trust for Community Empowerment.
It was for the first time that the local government system provided a Provincial Finance Commission for the allocation of resources between provincial and provincial government. Previously there existed the National finance commission with the responsibility for resource allocation between the center and provinces.
Devolution of Power Plan 2001 also increased the opportunity for females to become part of local bodies. Now all levels of local government would have 33% of reserved seats for women.
Furthermore, this new system introduced district monitoring Committees that would monitor the work of local government. Additionally, Musharaf introduced another institution with the name of the Citizens Community Boards to empower people to play their role in the design and surveillance of the development projects.
The new system also made the police department subordinate to the local government. Now the district government could also exercise its power concerning the rule of law and safeguard civil rights.
What were the demerits of the Devolution of Power Plan 2001?
Like those of past local government systems introduced by military rulers elections for local bodies were non-party based. The introduction of the non-party-based election – further strengthened the politics of influential people in rural areas.
Like the Local Bodies System 1971 and Basic Democrats 1959, the constitution of Pakistan did not provide constitutional guarantees. There was the only legal guarantee that till 2009 no government could dissolve local bodies.
Moreover, the military government of Musharafa carried out much fiscal decentralization but the planning of the budget still remained in the hands of the local bureaucracy. The bureaucracy at the local level included the District Coordination Officers (DCOs. Now the provincial governments had the powers to appoint bureaucrats.
Unlike in the past, now the District Nazim could also propose the prepared budget to the council for approval.