Of The People, By The People, For The People Volume VIII November 2023

About This Project


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This issue of Bayan seeks to understand the complex and troubled history of local governance in Pakistan. As the vital third tier of representative government that enables participation of  the larger public, particularly marginalised sections of society, such as women, transgender  individuals and non-Muslim minorities, the importance of local governments cannot be denied. The immediate context of this volume is provided by the delay in holding the long overdue local government elections, repeated changes and modifications in local government laws especially in the Punjab, and the consistency with which the larger public, particularly disempowered communities, such as women, non-Muslims, and rural-urban working classes  are denied numerically appropriate representation and access to voice and decision-making in  local government structures. At a deeper, more complex level, the context is provided by the  conflicts and contradictions engendered by the oppositional pull between Pakistan’s aspiration  towards democracy and decentralisation of power through democratic processes, and the will  to centralisation of power by authoritarian systems of rule engendered by decades of direct and  indirect military rule. Depicted by the ongoing process of decentralisation and recentralisation, this tussle for power has not only transformed the institution of local government into a  contentious terrain, it also draws attention to the historical conundrum or paradox of Pakistan’s  politics where the institution of local government, which paves the way to the equal representation  of women and non-Muslim communities in the political sphere, faces resistance by political parties, but has been supported by military dictatorships. This volume takes us to the people of Pakistan, who are the central focus not only of this issue but more crucially, of a democratic polity.