Building Effective Local Systems for Prevention in Pakistan
Strong Cities Network in Pakistan
On 1-4 November 2017, Pakistan-based NGO and SCN partner Individualland (IL) convened a capacity-building workshop for mayors and district officials from the cities of Peshawar, Nowshera and Quetta. Supported by US Embassy Islamabad’s Community Engagement Office, the workshop was well attended and included high-level representation from federal ministers, mayors and the Strong Cities Network. It received extensive media coverage, including multiple articles in Pakistan’s leading English-language newspapers in addition to Urdu platforms.
The workshop provided the first opportunity for the cities of Peshawar and Nowshera, as members of the Strong Cities Network, to meet and discuss the challenges they face and how the SCN can support them going forward. ISD’s SCN team conducted in-depth consultations with officials from all three cities. A detailed report on these consultations will be produced in the coming weeks.
Key Findings from SCN Consultations
There is significant scope for building local government capacity in Pakistan, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. Provincial legislation in KP passed in 2013 and 2015 has devolved jurisdiction over education and health to city-district and district government levels in Peshawar and Nowshera, and introduced reforms to reduce the politicisation of local police departments. As part of these recent reforms, and in addition to them, there are existing mechanisms and structures in place which can be utilised for the prevention of violent extremism. This includes newly formed committees for Police-Community Liaison, Dispute Resolution, and Public Safety.
In addition to existing SCN members Peshawar and Nowshera, the SCN team met with a delegation from the city of Quetta, including the mayor. Situated in Balochistan province, Quetta has not seen the same provincial legislation as in KP province and is currently lacking many of the powers that have been previously held at the local government or district level. This has created a sense of frustration among Quetta’s elected district government officials, who feel powerless to be able to influence the current dire security situation in Quetta. The mayor and the delegation expressed their desire to join the SCN and to receive support.
There are a number of next steps needed to deliver increased local government capacity in Pakistan through the SCN in close cooperation with local partners Individualland. A forthcoming full report following the consultations is set to outline a series of domestic and international exchanges, national-level workshops on strengthening local government capabilities, and measures to strengthen prevention capacities.