After the emergence of Pakistan, the first constitution was introduced in 1956 and the second in 1962, but both were soon repealed.
The 1973 constitution was comprehensive one. No new constitution has been introduced since 1973, but a never-ending series that has always sought Pakistan as a democratic system has begun. In 1977, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was removed from office by General Zia-ul-Haq. In 1985, the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution made Pakistan’s political system semi-presidential.
In 1988, the PPP government came to power again, but due to the instability of the political system, Benazir Bhutto was removed in 1990 and Nawaz Sharif was removed three years later. In 1997, the 13th amendment to the constitution was made to end this practice, but then in 1999, General Pervez Musharraf once again inflicted a deep wound on Pakistan longed for a democratic system.
I will analyze some of the most important facts with my limited knowledge, how 18th Amendment is a step towards democracy and how it is hindering the progress of Pakistan.
PPP government came to power for the fifth time in 2008 and on April 8, 2010 a significant amendment was made to the 1973 constitution, removing the president’s power to unilaterally dissolve parliament and turning Pakistan’s political system from semi-presidential to parliamentary.
Since the foundation of Pakistan, no consecutive 12 years have passed without any martial law. In 18th amendment, article 6 was amended and today the third democratic government is running and no one has dared to violate the constitution. Thus the credit definitely goes to the PPP for taking the first step towards the building of democracy.
In 18th amendment, 10A section was inserted in article 10 which is about right of fair trial, article 17 for the freedom and right to form associations and 25A section was introduced for the provision of free and compulsory education for children of the age of five to sixteen years. Additionally 175A section was inserted in article 175 for the appointment of judges of supreme, high and federal shriyat court.
With this all there are many flaws in this amendment which are obstacles in the way to progress of Pakistan.
Empowering the provinces was a good thing, but giving the provinces too much power and eliminating the concurrent list in the Eighteenth amendment exacerbated the problems between the provinces and federation.
The provincial government has the power to formulate health policies according to the diseases in its area, but it cannot import medicines for which each province puts a burden on the federation for medicines and then problems arise. The provinces have the power to legislate. The problem then arises as to which province’s Marriage Act will apply if people from two different provinces want to get married.
Different education system dominates in each province. Simply, In Punjab, Private institutions dominate government educational institutions. KPK and Baluchistan have a Madrassa system and Sindh has an almost mixed system. So, purpose to talk is that there is lack of curriculum in education and legal structure to monitor policies, laws and its implementation in the provinces.
In addition to all these issues, another big issue is the National finance commission (NFC) award. NFC award is a constitutional body whose actual purpose is distribution of resources among Centre and its four units. Currently, out of every 100 rupees, the Centre gets 42.5% while 57.5% goes the treasury of provinces. The distribution is based on population, poverty and backwardness, revenue collection and inverse population density. Current debate is that the incumbent government is planning to revisit the 18th Amendment and NFC award and wants to dialogue with opposition.
The problem is that the provinces need greater resources as they have more subjects along with responsibilities than before. The previous FATA have been merged into KPK and its relative share has been increased. The government is facing serious financial difficulties and is unable to generate revenue of such a great amount. In COVID-19, due to closure of transport, industries, textile, construction etc. federal government is facing severe economic challenges. Now it remains to be seen what will happen next and hope that whatever happens will be better for the survival and security of Pakistan.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.