More provincial council offices closed over WJ decision
KABUL (Pajhwok): At least 17 provincial councils (PCs) on Friday announced closing their offices for seven days as a token of protest over the Wolesi Jirga decision barring them from overseeing local departments.
In reaction to Wednesday’s parliamentary move, the councils in Ghor, Kandahar, Jawzjan, Sar-i-Pul, Faryab, Samangan, Badakhshan, Lugar, Parwan, Zabul, Nangarhar, Laghman, Herat, Kunar, Nimroz and Nuristan provinces shut down their offices.
Sticking to its stance, the lower house of parliament decided provincial councils did not reserve the right to supervise or evaluate the performance of local departments.
But the protesting PC members are of the opinion that they should be given the right back because they were the only representatives on the ground to hear people’s complaints.
Abdul Naji Nazari, head of Badakhshan council, said: “To lodge strong protest over the Wolesi Jirga decision, we have closed down the offices today. We ask the president to empower the councils’ members.”
Farahnaz Pamir, another member of provincial council, warned if their suggestions were not met they would continue with their protests. “The MPs are not able to come to the provinces and far-flung areas even once in a year. Then how can they make us toothless.”
Fazal Haq Ihsan, head of Ghor council, also vehemently criticized the Wolesi Jirga stance and said that henceforth there was no need for provincial councils.
He said oversight by councils’ members was essential for preventing graft in local departments. “Without oversight, corruption will multiply and local departments won’t produce tangible outcome.”
In Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh provincial council members unanimously decided at an emergency to close their office for a week in protest against the lower house decision.
PC chief Mohammad Ibrahim Khairandesh told Pajhwok: “This decision amounts to a betrayal of the Afghan people. Unfortunately, public representatives took the decision without any sense of shame or remorse.”
The parliamentarians would face a harsh reaction from the councils and the people at large, he said, adding that they helped the masses resolve their problems.
4 eastern provincial councils shut down offices
Also on Thursday, PC members of four eastern provinces shut down their offices. Ajmal Umar, secretary to the Nangarhar council, said the provincial bodies had been rendered meaningless.
Din Mohammad Pilot, head of the Kunar council, said they had also closed their office in protest. He added local public representatives should have the right supervise the performance of local departments.
“Our protest will continue until the president doesn’t give us an assurance of our powers being restored,” he said.
Hafiz Abdul Qayyum, the governor of Nuristan province, confirmed members of the council had shut down their office.
Separately, Haji Zahir Hussainkhel, the Laghman council secretary, said they had locked their office doors in reaction to the lower housed decision.
By the same token, central Bamyan and northwestern Faryab PC members also closed their offices. The Faryab council said it was the supervision and evaluation powers of members that ensured transparency at the local level.
Abdul Baqi Hashimi, head of the council, demanded additional powers to investigate developmental projects to ensure transparency.
Meanwhile, head of the Bamyan PC Tayyeba Khawari branded the Wolesi Jirga member as traitors. She alleged the lower house had been legislating in its own interests.
Elsewhere, officials of Nimroz council also warned of closing down their office if the Wolesi Jirga did not reverse its decision. Mohammad Siddique Chakhansori, the council chief, asked the president to intervene and restore their powers.
Meanwhile, members of Kandahar, Zabul, Sar-i-Pul and Paktia provincial councils joined the protest and closed their offices to condemn the lower house decision.
Haji Agha Lali Dastagiri, member of Kandahar council, said the recent legislation of the Wolesi Jirga would pave the way for more corruption. He said council members were representative of the people and it was their right to evaluate local affairs.
He said for the condemnation of the lower house decision regarding the powers of provincial council, Kandahar Zabul representatives had decided to shut down their offices.
Haji Hashim Grani, member of the Zabul council, said the existence of the provincial bodies was illogical if they were deprived of supervisory powers.
Likewise, the southeastern Paktika council also shut down its office. Its head Sardar Malangzai said the reason was the lower house decision of shrinking their powers.
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