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
|CRC members sign 18th Amendment draft|
|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.