Local elections: Cantt board yet to hold first cabinet meeting

Peshawar’s councillors blame hold-up on no response from MoD

Baseer Qalandar July 09, 2015
The cantonment board was swift to hold elections but is showing lethargy in moving towards real devolution and making the system operationa. PHOTO: REUTERS


 s, though quick to hold elections, seem less fussed that some of the boards have not yet called their first meeting. At least two-and -a-half months have passed since the cantonment board elections.

In Peshawar, the not-so-newly-elected candidates of the cantonment board were unhappy with the rate of progress. They were yet to be sworn in and were still waiting for the kick-off.

Vice Chairman Waris Khan Afridi said, “The cantonment board was swift to hold elections but is showing lethargy in moving towards real devolution and making the system operational.” He added, “It is like making a mockery of elected representatives if you are not calling in the first cabinet meeting – because people, our voters – have expectations from us.”

The unhappy candidate believed, “If you provide an immediate response to [peoples’] problems, they will vote for you again. Otherwise they will not come out of the comfort of their homes to vote.” He said the station commander should call the first meeting of the cabinet immediately instead of wasting time.

After a decade and a half

The cantonment board elections were held on April 25 after a long gap of about 18 years. The results were announced three days after the elections.

In Peshawar, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf bagged two seats and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Peoples Party secured one seat each. One seat went to independent candidate Waris Khan Afridi who later joined JI and became the vice chairman of the Cantonment Board Peshawar (CBP).

As per rules, the cabinet has to comprise 14 members: seven elected civilian members and seven military officials. The station commander—a brigadier rank officer—will be the chairman of the cabinet who will be assisted by the deputy station commander, a garrison engineer and four other army officials. The station commander in Peshawar is Brigadier Hizar Sultan Raja.

What’s the hold-up

Sharing possible reasons behind the delay in calling the first cabinet meeting, officials privy to the matter said the summary of the four military officials has been moved by the station commander to the Ministry of Defence but the ministry has not responded yet. These officials would be the remaining members from the military’s end.“We have moved the summary but the ministry has not issued the notification yet; I don’t know why,” said an officer of CBP, also seeking anonymity.

He added development projects in cantonment board areas were on the back burner because no cabinet meeting had been called yet. He warned a meeting of elected members would be called soon to chalk out a course of action if the board meeting was not called within a month.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.