THE new government has announced that it will reorganise the federal government. This is an excellent opportunity that after the passage of the 18th Amendment the centre has been devoid of essential subjects of national importance.

Pakistan is now the only country in the world — out of the 196 total sovereign countries — that does not have central departments of health, environment, labour, education (sans Canada) and so on. Fortunately, according to Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), there is sufficient room even after the passage of the 18th Amendment that can allow some semblance of these subjects at the federal level.

For example, the federal government can take over the role of establishing environmental standards but leave enforcement of these standards to the individual provinces through their respective EPAs.

As regards labour, the federal government can legislate for corporations that are present in more than one province. A National Industrial Relations Commission already exists for ‘trans-provincial’ corporations and the next logical step is for the federal government to formulate labour codes for such corporations.

PILDAT has published an excellent communiqué that establishes a role for the federal government in the health sector. It is important to note that Switzerland (which is officially a confederation) and the EU (which is a common market) have allowed legislation on these subjects by their central legislatures.

For any country to progress to a common goal, it must develop a uniform policy on these subjects of national importance.

ZAFAR CHEEMA United Kingdom

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Comments (1) Closed

K.K. Fakhta
Jun 22, 2013 02:53pm
The administrative structure of a country's government needs to reflect the political economy of the country. In a country like Pakistan in which unfortunately centrifugal forces are getting stronger over time in view of the "perceived injustices" against all the smaller provinces, a top heavy central structure will only fuel these forces. Before Pakistan can have a strong central government once again, with uniform policies, Pakistan will need to subdivide the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, and KPK and even Baluchistan into smaller units which will hopefully dissipate the centrifugal forces. This may seem counter intuitive. But the best way to draw attention to national common interests is to develop a political structure based on justice and tolerance which gives autonomy to local units to develop according to their own pace and priorities. This may develop a sense of competition between the units which would encourage integration instead of any forced attempt at centralization which would in fact result in strengthening the centrifugal forces. So I would vote NO for the time being to this suggestion.