A Giant Leap Forward for Pakistan!!

Posted by Raza Rumi

What an incredible achievement by Pakistan’s politicians, comparable to the historic national consensus reached in 1973 under the leadership of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto when Pakistan’s Islamic, Federal and democratic constitution was voted in. Now 37-years after that, Pakistan’s politicians have done the entire nation proud once again, this time under the leadership of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani, by adopting 18th Amendment to the same Constitution by the same or higher degree of consensus (when all political parties, small or big, provincial or national, bar none) have come together. These leaders have decided to do away the massive damage done to the constitution (and the national fabric) by military dictators over the years – by Zia and Musharraf. In one sweeping motion, with more than 100 changes in different articles of the constitution, most of the original spirit embodying the parliamentary and federal structure of the constitution is being restored. The biggest change is in granting of long-delayed provincial autonomy by abolishing the Concurrent List as was demanded by the smaller provinces and in renaming NWFP as Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa, thus restoring the Pakhtoon (or the Pathan) identity of the Frontier province after 250-years of its desecration begun by the British and perpetuated by Pakistan’s military-dominated establishment. The Concurrent List should have been abolished by 1983 under the 1973 Constitution but it took 27 additional years.

Congratulations to all. Pakistan would be a stronger, prosperous and more stable a country as a result of what happened today.

Of course, constitution is not about words on paper but about practice and a demonstrated and true democratic spirit, an area where Mr. Bhutto seriously fell short, but where President Zardari may yet succeed. Congratulations also to PML(N), MQM, ANP, PML(Q) and all others.

This journey began with Benazir Bhutto’s reconciliation with President Musharraf, holding of very fair and free elections by President Musharraf, handing over power to the largest political party of Pakistan (PPP), election of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani with national consensus, restoration of Chief Justice Chaudhry, admirable restraint shown by the Judiciary in its decision on the November 2007 emergency, development of a national consensus on fighting and defeating the Taliban, wise support given to PPP by PML(N) at critical junctures and last but certainly not the least the coming together of the most powerful Pakistani institution (the army) and the largest Pakistani political party (PPP). The latter means that finally, after 62-years of independence, people power or popular will is fusing with the ruling elite and establishment and that is no mean achievement. Those most responsible for this historic coming together is the vision of Benazir Bhutto, the pragmatism of President Musharraf, the conviction and perseverance of President Zardari and General Kayani, all of whom are to be congratulated for their national spirit.

Shaheryar Azhar, moderator, The Forum

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CRC members sign 18th Amendment draft
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Updated at: 2250 PST, Wednesday, March 31, 2010
ISLAMABAD: All members of the parliament’s constitutional reforms committee have signed the draft of 18th Amendment after reaching a consensus here on Wednesday.

The signing ceremony took place at the committee room in Parliament.

Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was the first to sign the draft followed by Naveed Qamar.

Besides, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi and Ishaq Dar, Babar Awan, Lashkari Raisani, Wasim Sajjad and others also singed the draft.

The committee reached a consensus on the draft of 18th Amendment following the detailed deliberations lasting several months.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “A Giant Leap Forward for Pakistan!!

  1. Shahab Riazi

    Does this repeal 58-2(b)?

  2. yasserlatifhamdani

    It does repeal the 58 2(B) … glad it happened.

    As a lawyer I am thrilled with the prospect of figuring out what federal institution would do what… the future HEC, AEDB etc… what about the various draft policies…

    But as a Pakistani… there hasn’t been anything divulged yet that gives me confidence that there has been any progress on the real issues in Pakistan… strengthening fundamental rights, giving equality of citizenship, empowerment of the marginalized sections i.e. women and religious minorities. These are the issues I am concerned… I hope that the Prime Minister’s office is now unambiguously laid open for any and all citizens of Pakistan…

    I am happy about the reports that CCI has been expanded and that Balochistan will now get a fairer share of the resources.

    People think re-naming a province is a big deal… I think they- the wretched establishment- made it a big deal by delaying it for so long. It should have been re-named long ago. In my view it was a manufactured political demand of a party out of ideas. I do hope that they are happy and will start referring to the “Frontier Gandhi” as “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Gandhi” henceforth. Glad that ends the chapter of ANP’s whining.

    So all in all a good day for Pakistan’s federalism… but there is precious little we know that might give us confidence that Pakistan is on the verge of sanity … and has made some stride towards a more inclusive, democratic and liberal state.

  3. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Pakistan: Constitutional Reform

  4. I watch this news on tv lets hope for the best

  5. Midfield Dynamo

    It is not characteristic of this blog to indulge in sycophancy, but surely its voice has been heard and whether by coercion or appeasement, it is being brought in line with the official towing.
    Whereas this might serve as a hallmark event in theory, practically it has been achieved because the benefiters were unable to hold ground and the rest were only too happy to vote in favor of balance of power albeit of little realistic significance. It would be premature to congratulate each other during these challenging circumstances when the state of affairs is dismal at best.
    As far as the Pashtuns are concerned, it might be too little too late, the older generation that was willing to cohabit with Pakistan has gone, the new generation feels they can have a bigger share of the pie, so to think that ANP will now have nothing to whine about is immature thinking.

  6. PMA

    Now that an ethnic name has been attached to another province of Pakistan, let us hope that the Ethnic Nationalists do not demand a proof of Pashtun ‘nationality’ to be a lawful resident of that province. We have seen a similar development in Balochistan where residents are de-marked as ‘Balochi’ and ‘non-Balochi’ and thus denied equal rights of citizenship by the Balochi Nationalists. As a citizens of a free country no one must be stopped from freely moving and taking up residence in any part of the country. But Baloch Nationalists do not subscribe that basic principal and have demanded expulsion and blockade of so called ‘settlers’ from that province. Under this new arrangement what will be the future of those residents of the renamed province of Pakistan who do not pass the litmus test of Pashtun Nation? Instead of doing away with the ethnic identity of the other three provinces, our spineless politicians have created another ethnic enclave. This is a step backward. Thank you Punjabi Nationalists and Sindhi Nationalists. Now you can go on with your agenda.

  7. yasserlatifhamdani

    Frankly… having read the damn amendment…. it is a laanti amendment. I can’t say anything else about it.

  8. Jamshaid Khan Barki

    Oops! It takes 63 years in Pakistan to give an identity to the people of one province just because of the opposition of politicians (not the whole public) from another province.

    President Asif Ali Zardari is the first president of Pakistan’s history who returns powers to Prime minister as well few to Parliament.
    The present govt although is on good work but still needs to improve governance in the country.
    Identity to pakhtoons, 18th amendment, Benazir Income Support Program, 7th NFC Award, successful operation against the RAW and CIA planted (almost by the help of ex dictator Pervez Musharraf) terrorism in Swat and start of Baluchistan’s rights program are the extra ordinary achievements of present govt of Pakistan.
    At least Pakistan Muslim League can not do this specially the coward Nawaz Sharif who ran from country and left the nation alone.

  9. I think the defeat to Dutchman, at this World Cup they deserved the victory more than others. I, though not an octopus, but predict a goal Sneijder.
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