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English Essay

Provincial Autonomy | CSS Essay Material

Provincial Autonomy | CSS Essay Material
Written by CSS Times

Pakistan is in an imminent danger to breaking up or that such an eventuating is inevitable. It is true that some of elites in its smaller provinces are dissatisfied with their share of the things the country generates. But their grievances are not huge and the demands accompanying them are not all that difficult to meet.

The basic grievance is that the Punjab is dominating the central government, further they dominate commerce in the smaller provinces, and they have taken too many posts in their government and administration. These assassins may be slightly exaggerated, but they are not entirely unfounded.

There, the inescapable tact is that Punjab constitutes more than 60 per cent of the counter’s population. The sheer logic of numbers makes them dominant in matters that fall domains.

This will remain the case as long as the (central government) center’s jurisdiction remains extensive as it is. Secondly, it so happens that Punjabis has had greater access to general education profession and managerial training. This edge enables them to take jobs in the smaller provinces that would otherwise have gone to local aspirants.

This state of affairs has been changing as universities, college and training institutes have multiplied in the formally neglected areas. But even as they catch-up with Punjabis in terms of education and training, their presence in central government will remain relatively modest.

This problem cannot be overcome except by limiting the central government to a few enumerated functions, the once to which the federating units have agreed, and by transferring the rest of its current powers and functions to provincial government. This is what the provincial autonomy means. If provincial autonomy along with these lines is implemented, most of jobs currently located in the central government & occupied by Punjabis will move to the provincial governments and open up to the local elites.

Experience of our own and that of several other countries, has shown that it does not perform the function that was expected of it. Even the United Kingdom, which planted the “Strong Center” in the Indian subcontinent, has abandoned it in dealing with its own components units (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales).

But in the case of our country‘s politics, our parliamentarians want to dominate the country’s government. But they can do so if governance is for the most part located in the center’s domain.

It should be understood that those who black the way to provincial autonomy are not friends of this country, Pakistan nationhood and an overbearing center cannot go together.

But keeping in view the fundamental rights, all the provinces should have equal rights.

18th Amendment and Provincial Autonomy?

The people of small provinces were once again cheated away and the promise of provincial autonomy was largely limited to cosmetic changes and use of buzz words such as abolition of the concurrent legislative list containing subjects where the Federal government and the four provincial had shared jurisdiction prior to the 18th amendment. Indeed, it was the long standing demand of provinces to do away with concurrent list and restore sole provincial jurisdiction as provinces had enjoyed under British before Pakistan was created. What actually has happened under the 18th amendment that the central government has assumed the jurisdiction over most important subjects and let provinces have jurisdiction over less important subjects? On top of this, a provision (Article 143) that before 18th amendment allowed the federal government to enact laws only in the subjects covered under federal legislative and concurrent legislative list have been extended giving authority to the Federal legislature to void any acts passed by a Provincial Assembly. This means that an act passed by a provincial assembly in a subject area that is totally under the jurisdiction of the province can be voided by an act passed by the Federal legislature with simple majority. Before 18th amendment such an act would have required a constitutional amendment. In a country such as Pakistan, where one province had more members in the National Assembly than the combined total of other provinces, this change gives the largest province of Pakistan to override any provincial laws with ease as it could easily muster simple majority from that province alone.

Where 18th Amendment failed to meet expectations of small provinces?

  1. Failed to reaffirm the principles of 1940 Resolution principles namely the promises of provincial “autonomy” and “sovereignty”.
  2. Failed to include Baluchi, Pashto, Punjabi, and Sindhi as national languages of Pakistan.
  3. Article: 39 – Participation of people in Armed Forces – Failed to include a provision that the military will strive to build a truly national organization that is ethnically-balanced and representative of all minorities of Pakistan. A provision should have been made to achieve this balance within five to ten years.
  4. Articles: 59 and 73 – Senate Composition and money powers: Failed to change composition of Senate so the exactly 25 members from each province will be elected to Senate in a national vote and would hold a veto over any laws passed by the National Assembly.
  5. Article 143: Inconsistency between Federal and Provincial laws
  6. Now even a corrupt, ineligible and incompetent politician, as party head, would be able to manipulate the whole political system in the country. This was achieved by making some very disturbing changes in article 63. This article deals with the eligibility of political contesters in general elections. This amendment has ruined the idea of rule of law and justice. Amendments made in article 63 would enable every convicted criminal to be part of the parliament after five years of his release from jail irrespective of the fact why that person was convicted.
  7. Article 156 – National Economic Council – This article had a provision that “the President shall nominate one member from each Province on the recommendation of the Government of that Province.” The 18th amendment has removed the words “on the recommendation of the Government of that Province.” has been REMOVED as Prime Minister can now appoint 4 other members of the council. The implication of this change is that Federal Government will solely determine who will be the members of the National Economic Council thereby further diminishing the participation of provincial governments in how national economics is handled – this is another serious attack against provincial autonomy.

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