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Musharraf gives district governments to Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD, Aug. 14 Kyodo

(EDS: RECASTING LEAD)

Pakistan's military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Monday announced plans to hold elections at Pakistan's 105 districts in what could be the first step toward a return to democracy.

Under the program ''Local Government 2000,'' elections would be held in phases between now and July 2001 for Union Councils in all the districts in Pakistan, with each 18-member council to be headed by an administrator.

The two office bearers of the Union Councils would automatically become members of district councils, which prepare development plans and oversee the affairs of the district administration.

Musharraf, who took power in October last year by toppling the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was addressing the nation on the 53rd independence anniversary.

The most important administrative reform announced by Musharraf was the abolition of commissioners as heads of the 25 divisions in Pakistan's four provinces. Under Musharraf's district government plan, a Nazim (administrator) elected by the district council would be the administrative head of each district.

Currently, the divisions and districts in Pakistan were headed by members of the elite district management group, which is usually considered as heir to the Indian Civil Service of the British India.

Political analysts say the district government plan strikes at the power of the most powerful group of Pakistan's bureaucracy.

''I want to restore real democracy, the essence of democracy, and not sham democracy for privileged people,'' Musharraf said.

In his independence-day message Sunday night, Musharraf said the four elite classes in Pakistan -- officials, politicians, feudal elite and the business elite -- had failed to provide leadership to Pakistan.

Under the setup envisaged by Musharraf, all the government officials in the district would be subordinate to the elected administrator.

All the major political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistan People's Party and the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, have opposed the military government's idea of the district governments on the ground that it was an encroachment on the jurisdiction of the provincial government.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Aug 21, 2000
Words:331
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