Local Government Reforms in Pakistan: Context, Content and Causes

Khwaja, Asim; Hasanain, Ali; Qadir, Adnan (2006)


Khwaja, Asim, Ali Hasanain, and Adnan Qadir. 2006. “Local Government Reforms In Pakistan: Context, Content And Causes”. In Decentralization And Local Governance In Developing Countries: A Comparative Perspective. Eds. D. Mookherjee And P. Bardhan, Cambridge, Ma: Mit Press, July 2006.
This paper examines the recent decentralization reforms in Pakistan under General Musharraf. We highlight major aspects of this reform and analyze its evolution in a historical context to better understand potential causes behind this current decentralization. Analyzing the evolution of local government reforms in Pakistan is interesting because each of the three major reform experiments has been instituted at the behest of a non-representative centre using a ‘top down’ approach. Each of these reform experiments is a complementary change to a wider constitutional reengineering strategy devised to further centralization of political power in the hands of the non-representative centre. We argue that the design of the local government reforms in these contexts becomes endogenous to the centralization objectives of the non-representative centre. It is hoped that analyzing the Pakistani experience will help shed light on the positive political economy question of why non-representative regimes have been willing proponents of decentralization to the local level.