Discontent below.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a Twitter space on local governments on a Sunday evening. As participation did not involve looking presentable or getting out of the house on a cold evening, I managed to turn up. Local government is a topic much beloved - outside of those who 'do' mainstream media, where little beyond the immediate is discussed.

The space was no different. But as is the case with rich discussions, there is always a sentence or two which gets stuck in one's mind. This time around, it was the argument presented by one speaker - that local government could be one way of dealing with the widespread unrest and discontent from below. From the Haq Do Tehreek in Gwadar to the PTM in the former Fata areas, to even the youth who are supposed to support the PTI because they are not happy with the status quo, there is evidence enough of this.

This discontent is not just due to a denial of basic rights and services but also the economic situation and the youth bulge, a phrase which has entered our political lexicon this past year. With a growing population and worsening economic, social and human indicators, discontent is bound to grow, and so will eventually disorder.

Just consider Balochistan, where the violence has continued since 2006 despite different regimes. As has been pointed out more than once, it is the youth which play a more significant role in it than the tribal sardars.

Discontent is bound to grow and so will eventually disorder.

The PTM may be a more recent phenomenon but the ban on its coverage and the restrictions on Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir do not seem to have tamped down the movement. The fracas over Manzoor Pashteen's speech at the Asma Jahangir Conference late last year is evidence of it.

But obviously, these issues do not bother our political parties, which are not interested in sharing power or devolving it beyond the provincial capitals - be it the PPP or PML-N, which passed weak laws despite the criticism, especially in places such as Karachi, or the PTI, which diluted the original local government law in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and delayed local elections in Punjab despite coming to power there in 2018.

However, even with mainstream parties, or rather parties which are focused on the mainstream areas, there are pressures from below. The growing discontent is obvious. As a young politician, who shall remain anonymous, pointed out, while journalists tend to focus on the issue of dynasty at the national level...

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