DECENTRALIZATION OF POWER IN PAKISTAN
Decentralization and it sensions Decentralization means to transfer the responsibilities, resources or authority from central body to local bodies of the country. There are three main dimensions of decentralization
Political decentralization is the transfer of political power from central bodies to elected local bodies. Fiscal decentralization is the transfer of raising and spending revenues and collection of taxes from center to local authorities. Administrative decentralization involves the transfer of managing services to the local authorities.
History of decentralization in Pakistan
Pre independence period | Decentralization
Before arrival of British rule in subcontinent there was no proper local self-government system all the judicial, administrative and sometime development functions were performed by punchayat system. Punchayat system was consisted of founding families, large farmers and upper castes. At that time in subcontinent the areas that are now Pakistan local government was introduced by British not by local punchayat. After 1857 war of independence the governance transferred to crown from the hands of east India Company. That local government was formed in a centralized way and the members of that government was not elected by locally rather they were nominated by British. In every province despite having legislation for setting up district committee that was for nothing just more than supplying information.
The post-World War 1 distress caused nationalist parties to get more concessions from British government to have more autonomy at provincial level and it came in the form of Government of India Act 1919 which gave provincial assemblies to have charge of minor departments. Although this act was limited to delegate powers to politicians but it maintained the control of central imperial bureaucracy.In Punjab the British government introduced an act known as Punjab land alienation act 1900 and Punjab pre-emption act 1913 according to which the transfer of land from agriculture to non-agriculture classes was prohibited which result rural urban division due to which politics was restricted far away from urban middle class. British provided this opportunity to elite class because they wanted to create a loyal native class. The system that was emerged at that time was not because of local demand but was imperial bureaucracy.
At the time of independence the only functional local government was existed in Punjab which was in the form of punchayat and municipal councils with majority of non-elected members. Till 1950 there was no decentralization, there was political instability and Muslim league was failed to organize and utilized its local bodies.
Decentralization and political legitimacy (Ayub period)
National and provincial assemblies were disbanded on the basis of martial law of 1958. Then, General Ayub established local government in the form of Basic democrats, which gave power to the armed forces directly from president office. The new local government system comprised of hierarchal system of four tiers. The lowest tier, the union council, covered a village population of 8000 to 15000 and comprised of Basic democrats. The other tiers had some members elected indirectly by the basic democrats. This system was also under bureaucracy similar to British period.
The Zia period | Decentralization
Local government system was revived by Zia. He combined political centralization at federal level. Zia combined political centralization at federal level with decentralization from the provincial to the local level in order to legitimize his political regime. The martial law put the 1973s constitution in abeyance. Decentralization was achieved through imposition of local government system. Zia had tried to neutralize the influence of political parties by holding local election on a non-party basis. Zia sought to reduce bureaucratic control by elevating elected members as the heads of local councils.
The Musharraf period |Decentralization
Musharraf introduced devolution of power in January 2000 and after a series of local government elections they implemented it. With devolving of expenditure and administrative responsibilities they also decentralized the decision making changes in administrative level and the accountability of decision making authority. Decentralization process was not uniform in different administrative departments and different services within department.
18th Amendment and Democratic government
In May 2006 the two major political parties of Pakistan PPP and PML N signed a Charter of Democracy to make the decentralized system of government. In which power had to transform from federal to provinces after the restoration of 18th amendment.
The main features of the amendment are |Decentralization
Provinces were given more institutional space and Concurrent list was abolished.
The decentralized government revised the constitutional monarchy of federal government by introducing the local structure at grassroots level.
The center peripheral paradigm was made on the basis of institutional principles.
More institutional way is used to regularize the council of common interest.
The principal of economic decentralization which was discovered under 7th NCF award implemented under 18th amendment.
Under 18th amendment the principal of economic decentralization, which was disclosed under 7th NFC award, was implemented.
Advantages of decentralization
It provides a way to facilitates and stimulates the local sustainable development in all the regions of the country.
It decreases the chances of extraction of resources from periphery and spends in the center.
Majority of the functions are performed by local level so provide opportunities to the local individuals. It enhances their capabilities and provides leadership skills and provides managerial and technical skills in the regions.
It helps different regions to take different initiatives for the development of their area.
It helps the local people and government to come close so that government can be able to solve the problems more efficiently.
Because of decentralization local government has the power to divide the goods or resources for some specific geographical location so that people of that geographical area can easily consume public goods.
Decentralization can also increase the efficiency in determining of service provision.
Disadvantages of decentralization
There are possibilities that there may be increase in inter regional inequalities and widen the intra national poverty gap.
It includes the risk of capturing of resources by local elites or by the special interest group it might be possible that local elites can use the resources for their own benefit or may be high jacked by single group.
It leads to misuse of authority because of inadequate supervision or weak accountability. If the central government removes its supervision on the local government they might misuse the power.
There should be the problem of coordination failure between the local government and the central government and create conflicts between local and national interest.
It represents the more complex form of governance, creating several levels of government which bring complexities to the power sharing, role and functions and the relationship.
Conclusion | Decentralization
Decentralization has never seen as the right structure for Pakistan besides having many benefits this form of government has never been a successful form of government in Pakistan. In Pakistan unfortunately decentralization of power has always been initiated during the dictatorial regime to legitimize their own position and for its own purposes and as a result the system was not taken seriously.