Islamabad - The government is going to exempt some ‘sensitive’ residential sectors of the federal capital from yet-to-be-introduced local government system and declare them cantonment after the defence authorities expressed concern over giving municipal and administrative control of these areas to the civilians, highly reliable sources told The Nation on Sunday.

They said the considerations in this regard started after the defence authorities, keeping in view the sensitive status of the sectors which are housing Air Headquarters, Naval Complex and other sensitive installations, approached the concerned quarters with a request that these sectors be excluded from the local areas in the ICT the government had notified in April this year for the purpose of holding local bodies elections in the federal capital.

It is to mention here that Sector E-9 houses Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Air Headquarters. Similarly, Naval Complex which is under the administrative control of Pakistan Navy is located in sector E-8. Sector E-10 and D-11 are allocated for the General Headquarters of Pakistan Army.

In what seems to be the first step towards excluding the ‘sensitive’ sectors from the ‘local areas’ in Islamabad Capital Territory, the federal government has withdrawn an earlier notification issued in this regard.

The notification issued by the ministry of interior on July 31, 2015 (Friday), a copy of which is exclusively available with this scribe, reads: “With the approval of the competent authority, this ministry’s notification of even number dated 27th April, 2015, to demarcate and declare the local areas in Islamabad Capital Territory, is hereby withdrawn on administrative grounds, with immediate effect and until further orders.”

A copy of the notification has been sent to the other concerned authorities as Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan, District Election Commission Islamabad, chief commissioner Islamabad, assistant commissioner rural/urban and secretary interior for information. A new notification would be issued soon to declare ‘local areas’ in Islamabad Capital Territory for the purpose of holding local bodies elections in the city, the sources said.

They said that as the government is going to exempt some sectors from the LG system, the local areas need to be renumbered and notified afresh.

The sources told this scribe that PAF Headquarters had approached the ministry of interior to exempt sector E-9, which houses its offices, from introducing the LG system as it could pose a serious challenge to its security and administrative affairs.

The interior ministry, in response asked the PAF HQs to approach the ministry of defence if it desired so. Now the ministry of defence has formally asked the ministry of interior to exempt the sectors housing offices of the armed forces and other sensitive installations from the LG system and declare them as cantonment, said the sources.

The government had issued notification specifying the ‘local areas’ within ICT as union councils and for the metropolitan corporation.

There were 79 union councils in the ICT but with exclusion of some sectors the government is withdrawing the earlier notification and will afresh determine the number of union councils in the Islamabad Capital Territory.

A new notification would soon be issued by the government to declare ‘local areas’ in Islamabad Capital Territory. It is to mention here that the federal government can declare any area as cantonment.

Cantonments in the country are administered by cantonment boards under the control of the Military Lands & Cantonments Department, which is an attached department of the ministry of defence headed by a director general.

There are a total of 56 cantonments in Pakistan.

As of 2013, 27 cantonments are in Punjab, 10 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 10 in Sindh, 7 in Balochistan and 2 cantonments are in Gilgit-Baltistan. Local bodies elections have just been held in cantonments across Pakistan. In the cantonments, there is a representative local government system, under which elected representative of the civil population become members of the cantonment boards.

The powers and functions of the cantonment board are synonymous to municipal committees in the cities.

The members constituting the board are both officially nominated as well as elected through a direct vote on the basis of adult franchise. The station commander, a senior military officer, is the ex officio president of the board.

The board normally decides and lays down policies.