Council of Common Interests gets permanent secretariat, finally

Published November 4, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) at the PM Secretariat. — APP/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) at the PM Secretariat. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has finally notified the setting up of a permanent secretariat for the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

“In pursuance of Article 154(3) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the federal government has been pleased to establish a permanent Secretariat of the CCI with immediate effect, which shall have the status of a division,” said a notification issued by the Cabinet Division here on Wednesday.

Through an “Office Memo­randum”, the Cabinet Division also announced approval of amendments to the Rules of Business 1973 to cover the status, reporting channel and procedure for the functioning of the newly established CCI secretariat “which shall be headed by the secretary of the CCI.”

According to the rules, the CCI secretary will be required to report directly to the prime minister “in the latter’s capacity as the chairman CCI, and shall also function as Principal Acco­unting Officer of the Secretariat”.

The memorandum says that the procedure of the CCI “shall be governed in terms of the Rules of Procedure of the CCI, 2010, as amended from time to time”.

“Consequently, the subject ‘all secretarial work for the CCI and their committees’ shall stand deleted from the list of subjects of the Inter-Provincial Coordination Division in Schedule-II to the Rules of Business, 1973,” it says, adding that “necessary amendments in the Rules of Business 1973 will be made in due course [of time]”.

The setting up of the permanent secretariat for the CCI had been a longstanding demand, mainly of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which claims the credit for the passage of the 18th Constitution Amendment that granted autonomy to the provinces.

While acting as Senate chairman, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani had given a ruling in 2016, asking the then PML-N government to immediately set up a permanent CCI secretariat as given in the Constitution.

However, the PML-N government kept on delaying the matter on one pretext or the other and its five-year tenure ended without any progress, forcing Mr Rabbani to again raise the matter as a senator through a calling-attention notice in December last year.

Mr Rabbani had regretted failure of the successive governments to set up the CCI secretariat and termed it an attempt to “sabotage and circumvent the Constitution”.

The government was bound by Article 154(3) of the Constitution to set up a permanent secretariat for the CCI and the cabinet of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif had on Dec 15, 2016, decided in principle to establish the CCI secretariat.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2021

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