Urban residents of the federal capital will not have local government representation until the federal legislature amends the city’s law for local bodies.
The scope of the Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance 1979, which is currently applicable in Islamabad, is limited only to the capital’s rural areas, Islamabad Chief Commissioner Jawad Paul told The Express Tribune.
“Section 1, subsection 2, of the ordinance says it only extends to the rural areas of Islamabad,” Paul said.
During a case hearing on July 17, the Supreme Court had asked the ICT administration, through the Deputy Attorney General, to ensure that local bodies’ elections are held in both urban and rural areas. The apex court’s remarks came after the ICT administration had assured the court it was ready to hold elections in Islamabad’s rural areas.
On Monday, the Supreme Court, which has been pursuing the federal and provincial governments along with the ICT Administration to hold local government elections by September, was told that an amendment was required to hold elections in urban Islamabad.
Paul said the ICT Administration had submitted a report to the Supreme Court clarifying that the existing ordinance does not allow local government elections to be held in urban areas.
“We would be happy to hold elections in the rural areas whenever the government tells us to,” he said. “But the law must be amended by the legislature if urban areas are to be included.”
He said the ICT administration would be willing to assist parliament, but the initiative must come from the elected representatives.
In October 2012, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had also ordered the government to hold local government elections within six months. The deadline passed in April, but elections have still not been held, violating the court’s order. Paul — who was made chief commissioner in late April — said he could not comment on why the previous administration had followed the order. But he said the change of government in March and the subsequent interim government and general elections might have factored in the delay.
The IHC noted in October that local governments allow people at grassroots level to resolve their own problems.
Under the Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance 1979, Islamabad’s rural areas are divided into 12 union councils.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2013.