Local Bodies Elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir are going to be held after the gap of 31 years on November 27. The initial scrutiny of the documents has been done. The candidates have started campaigns to get as many supporters to win their constituencies. These elections were held in AJK in 1991 after that instead of holding elections after every four years, successive governments appointed the members of local councils on a political basis. Local Bodies election is a gateway to good governance and achieving sustainable development goals which are focused on eliminating poverty, eradicating hunger, addressing health issues, focusing on quality of education, clean water and sanitation, creating economic opportunities, develop infrastructure, strong institutions and reduce inequality. The purpose of these elections is to achieve inclusive democracy that will be helpful in achieving sustainable development goals. The elections are now making their way after a gap of three decades. It is high time for us to break down the shackles of the society that bound us in the vicious circle of nepotism and bring the leadership that is capable to deliver the promises and bring positive change in society.
Local body elections have an impact on the political, economic, and social affairs of the system. In political terms, local body elections will provide a platform for empowering the growing youth bulge, as educated youth get a chance to take a lead. It will bring new leadership to society. The middle class will also get a chance to come forward.
It is the responsibility of political parties to give maximum tickets to young people, minorities and women. So, the inequality in power division will be addressed to some extent. In economic terms, the allocations of funds to these elected members will make it easier for them to address the grievances and concerns of their people. The funds allotted will also be utilised properly which will lead to creating employment oppor- tunities and eradicating poverty and hunger.
Corruption will also be eradicated from society to some extent. While, in social terms, the major benefit of the elected members of the local bodies is their belongingness to the area they are representing.
They better know the issues and hurdles faced by the people residing there. Likewise the health related issues, issues in education, clean water and sanitation issue. They will be able to highlight those issues and address them. Moreover, they are going to design development plans, including infrastructure. They are going to act as a bridge between government and people. This will facilitate towards removing frustration from society and decreasing the crime rate. When the basic needs of the people will be fulfilled neither they will get involved nor they will allow others to indulge in anti-state activities. As voices of the laymen will be heard and concerns will be delivered so they would not be having any reason to stand against the state. It will contribute towards national security.
To make these elections a success story, there is a need for an awareness campaign in the common masses to know about the importance of these elections and the need to cast their vote. As charity begins at home, our participation at the local level will bring change at the national level positively.
This will facilitate in bringing a leadership at the front that is trusted by the people as the common masses are the sufferers of bad governance. Their contribution will be helpful in bringing change to society. When governance is improved, we will be able to emerge as a powerful nation. As good governance leads to economic growth, political stability, and security. Good governance and inclusive democracy which will be achieved via local body elections is possible only with the contribution of the people.
The author is a Research Officer at Center for International Strategic Studies, AJK.