PROVINCIAL autonomy was the cornerstone of the Pakistan movement. The Pakistan Resolution clearly indicates that Pakistan was to be a country where the provinces were sovereign and autonomous.
The recent loud thinking by the federal government on ‘re-considering’ and ‘reviewing’ the 18th amendment shows it wants to change it or do away with it altogether. However, before taking a decision, the government should view the 18th amendment in its historic background.
Provinces or states are the pillars of a strong federation, and unless the provinces function efficiently, the federation is bound to remain weak.
The guiding principle of Pakistan was to be provincial autonomy and this was there in the Lahore Resolution in 1940 and the resolution passed by the Sindh Assembly demanding Pakistan.
The manner in which federal government ministers and some supporters are criticising the 18th amendment, covertly and overtly, is similar to Indian Congress opposing the Pakistan movement and denying autonomy to the provinces.
For the smooth operation of the country and for Pakistan’s prosperity it is vital that the government should fully implement the 18th amendment.
It can make a start by establishing a permanent secretariat of the Council of Common Interests (CCI). The subjects which are part of the federal legislative list part II should be discussed in CCI and the federal government should abolish the ministries it has been operating even after the 18th amendment and transfer its budget to the provinces.
Lastly, an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual support should be developed and the PTI should refrain from the politics of polarisation. This will make Pakistan an ideal federation in the comity of nations.
Faizan Raza Buriro
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2020