Finding influentials in decision making process of local government: A study of two union councils in Peshawar district of Pakistan
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My study is about elites influence in the decision making process of local government of Pakistan. In 2000 Pakistan introduced a new local government system under devolution of power plan, which promising to devolve the power to grass roots. The new system was implemented in 2001 after holding of non party based elections. Though people in general seem to be happy with the system, the critics have charged the system for not fulfilling the promise, rather having empowered the local economic and political elites more than before. This study attempted to find who, with what background, have influence in the decision making process of Local Government in Pakistan. The study is operationalized on the theoretical concepts of elite school of thought, applying its positional and reputational methods to identify elites. It aimed at finding the positions, gender, socio-economic, cultural, political and expertise of the Councillors. Two Union Councils, University town and Karimpura of Peshawar District, were selected as sample of the study. The data were gathered about 31 councillors through a comprehensive questionnaire embedding interview, case study and group discussion while SPSS was used for analyses and interpretation. The study analyzed 21 variables, among which 7 had direct and positive relationship and 7 had none in both Union Councils, while the rest 7 are significant in only one Union Council. Overall position, gender, education, income, leadership roles and political factors to varying extent, seem important attributes of the Councilors assessed highly influential by their peer Councilors. However, both Union Councils, show different results about seven variables, which could be due to their demographic, socio-economic and cultural differences, and Councillors functions as well as smaller number of respondents in Karimpura Union Council than the University Town Union Council. However, the findings of the study reveal elites influence in decision making of Union Councils, but do not indicate their mal handling of the power; rather most of them have completed successfully many development works for the uplift of their community.