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18th Amendment and National Integration

18th Amendment and National Integration.


Hardly anything good happens in Pakistan’s politics save rare events when the rulers of the country gather to churn out a way or policy that paves the way toward the overall betterment of the country. 18th amendment to the constitution of Pakistan, which was undertaken in April 2010, marked a leap forward towards the diminishment of centripetal forces that were continuously pulling apart. The factors that kept the forces active and strong were the product of the negligence of the centre regarding the fulfilment of constitutionally sanctioned rights of the provinces. The 18th Amendment brought the provinces to the driving seat and belittled the grievances and anger that the smaller provinces i.e. Balochistan, Sindh, and KP had nurtured for years against the centre and Punjab. Arguably, the centre raises concern for it is left with a meagre amount of money to meet its expenditures and expresses anger for detachment of its powers. However, the amendment has contributed to national integration and national unity.

Overview of the 18th Amendment.

Pakistan People’s Party took the lead in carrying out the amendment when it successfully convinced all stakeholders of the country for the ambitious task it was aiming to undertake. It rarely happens in the country when all are united for a singular agenda. This credit goes to the PPP for it united all stakeholders for a national agenda. A similar act was undertaken by the same political party when it triumphantly formulated and got approved by all political parties the Constitution of Pakistan in April 1973.

The 18th Amendment to the constitution of Pakistan deleted and altered almost 36 percent of the constitution. 102 out of 280 articles were changed. This manifests a major change to the constitution since it was implemented. Moreover, this amendment was relatively carried away for national interests rather than for the attainment of the self-interests of the rulers. The previous amendments were largely carried out to seek political motives and to concentrate the lion’s share of powers in one head of the state.

The 18th Amendment decentralised the powers of the centre and devolved them to the provinces. The concurrent list was abolished and seventeen ministries were devolved to the provinces. The Council of Common Interests (CCI) was reinvigorated, and the powers of the National Economic Council (NEC) and National Finance Commission (NFC) Award was reconstituted in favour of the provinces. Resultantly, the CCI became regularly operational and the provinces attained a powerful say in it, the powers and decisions of the NEC tilted in favour of the provinces and the criteria for the distribution of the NFC Award was changed thereby provinces received a larger share in their resources than the previous share they were receiving from the centre before the 18th amendment.

18th Amendment solidifies national integration.

Pakistan is a federation of four provinces and the population of four provinces is not monotonous. They inhabit various cultures and ethnicity, however, there is only one similarity among them which is the religion, Islam. In the modern nation-state system, religion has not turned out to be a successful uniting force or a solid criterion for the foundation of a nation-state. It is another debate about how religion is not a solid criterion for the foundation of a nation-state. Here debate is underway to explain how the 18th amendment solidifies the national integration. The amendment strengthens provincial autonomy, democracy, politics, economy, education, and national institutions. These are integral elements required for a stable and prospering country.

  • The 18th Amendment gives provincial autonomy.

Before the amendment, most of the matters and affairs of the provinces were run and regulated by the centre. The provincial rulers had little say in the affairs and functions of their provinces. The 18th Amendment gave power and authority to the provinces in their legal, administrative, and executive functions. The seventeen ministries were devolved to the provinces from the centre. Currently, the provinces are the most autonomous units of the country they have ever remained in their whole history.

In the past, the centre formulated the policies and executed them in the whole country disregarding the grievances and concerns of the provinces. this paved the way for the alienation between the provinces and the centre. The continuous alienation and disregard for the genuine grievances of the provinces by the centre germinated national movements that exhibited anger and hate toward the centre. The 18th Amendment gave autonomy to the provinces to run their businesses according to the wishes and aspirations of the people.

  • The 18th Amendment strengthens democracy.

Pakistan is a federation and its basis of creation is the resolution of Pakistan that was passed in March 1940. In the resolution, it was decided with the consensus that the federating units would be free and autonomous. Therefore, no other form of government is suitable for the country except democracy. In the past, the military establishment tried to impose an authoritative rule in the country but it badly failed.

Through the 18th Amendment, Article 58 2(b) was struck down which enabled the president to topple the elected governments whenever the PM acted freely or against the line set by the establishment. This discretionary power of the president never allowed the elected governments to act freely nor did it let democracy flourish in the country. After the amendment, no elected government has been toppled by the president nor has the establishment overthrown the government.

  • The 18th Amendment has improved politics in the country.

The amendment bound each provincial government through Article 140 to establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative, and financial authority and responsibility to local elected representatives. This ended the politics in the country that was largely based on identity and ethnicity. The dynamics of the politics were shifted to performance and competence.

Therefore, the slogans of the politicians during the election campaign are now based on the performances and future manifesto. These are the positive omens for the politics in the country. There are several loops and lacunae, however, the direction of the politics is in the right way.

  • The 18th Amendment caused the equitable distribution of resources and set fertile ground for the economy to revive.

Hitherto the criterion for the distribution of resources was solely based on the share of the population of the provinces. The provinces with the larger share of population get a larger share no matter how much they generate revenue. The amendment included other criteria as the basis of the distribution of the resources. The other criteria are poverty, revenue generation, and inverse population. In the following table percentages of each criteria are given:

Population                          82%

Poverty                                10.3%

Revenue generation       5%

Inverse population          2.7%

Moreover, Article 160 of the constitution which was amended through the 18th amendment bound the government that the share of provinces in future NFC Awards should not be less than the previous award. This enabled the provinces to get the share they deserved. To get a larger share the provinces strive to explore new avenues for resource generation. Resultantly, the economy of the country got a boost.

  • The 18th Amendment paved the way for the improvement of education.

Before the amendment education was the function of the federal government which could not pay enough attention to the sector required due to its overburdens. The education sector was devolved to the provinces and the centre was left with other important functions to look into. When the education sector became the function of the provinces the blame for its poor performance in the sector lies with the provinces. The people of the provinces put pressure on the provincial governments to improve the quality of education. It worked. The education sector in the provinces is improving as the ratio of attendance in the schools and the budget allocated for the education sector have increased after the amendment.

  • Conclusion

In the concluding words, the 18th Amendment is not the panacea for all the evils prevailing in the country, however, it was a right step in the right direction. Such do not usually happen in the chequered history of Pakistan. There are also disadvantages associated with the amendment that does not mean the amendment was a wrong decision. In order to attain all benefits of the amendment other steps need to be taken. The centre needs to pay attention to its assigned functions, the provinces need to devolve powers to the root level and establish strong and stable local governments and the provinces should fulfil their new assigned duties and work for the betterment of the people. The provinces should not let the people maintain the impression that their struggle for autonomy was actually intended to attain powers. Without these steps, the amendment is nothing more than a theoretical alteration in the constitution of Pakistan.



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