AJK Youth seeks unconditional restoration of Local Bodies in the State:

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Study by An Independent think tank unveils

Altaf Hamid Rao;

MIRPUR, (Parliament Times ): CPDR – Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms, a world-fame AJK-based Kashmiri non-governmental outfit unveiled a report titled “The Local Government System in Azad Jammu & Kashmir: Background, Evaluation and the Way Forward” here on Saturday,

The broad-based and integrated report, authored by illustrated scholar, analyst, writer and intellectual Dr. Waqas Ali, presents an insightful evaluation of the significance, development and challenges to the Local Government system in Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Media Wing of the CPDR said in a statement released to the media here on Saturday.

“Elucidating the dual role of the Local Bodies in terms of promoting democratic process at the grassroots level and guaranteeing services delivery to the public, the report also outlines a brief history of the Local Bodies functioning in AJK and brings to light the process of evolution, development and finally the devolution of these democratic structures in 1996. The report finally illuminates the impact of the 13th Amendment in the 1974 Act of AJK on the LB system and its inherent connection with inclusive development in the region, the statement said.

The report, according to the news release, has been prepared using the Participatory Action Research Framework involving 500 young people aged between 18-35 years. It also includes the views of the leaders belonging to different political parties in AJK, ex-councilors, ex-chairmen district councils, civil society representatives, lawyers, academicians and media personnel. The consequences of the absence of Local Bodies for almost 24 years and the problems in the way of the restoration of these democratic structures have been sorted out and elucidated in the report on the basis of the historic analysis as well as the valuable feedback from people belonging to different walks of life.

The report recommends the restoration of the Local Bodies and holding the LB elections on immediate basis. Based on the conclusions drawn through research and analysis, it also recommends having 25 per cent quota for young people in political parties and at least 10 per cent for the women members in the Local Bodies. The suggestions of establishing a Local Government Academy for extensive training and capacity building of the young people, including a course of rural development in the educational sector at the primary level as well as introducing training programs within the political parties for their members have also been put forward in the report. Giving financial and administrative powers to the Local Governments by abolishing the developmental role of the Kashmir Council as well as the MLAs and ministers has been suggested along with the formulation of “Vision 2030” for the local development in AJK, it concluded.

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