Engaged in a heated discussion, a special committee of the Senate pertaining to the devolution process said the creation of seven new ministries violates the essence of the 18th amendment of the Constitution.
The special committee chaired by Senator Jahangir Badr, met in the Parliament House with Senator Raza Rabbani, the key author of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, and other members of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in attendance.
The committee urged the Inter-Provincial Coordination Ministry to collect records of all the 17 devolved ministries as well as the seven newly created ones. It directed them to scrutinise whether the action was in violation of the Constitution.
“I think the act to re-create the same ministries that were previously abolished, is against the Constitution and its landmark 18th amendment,” Rabbani said.
“The federal bureaucracy and certain political forces were against the devolution of power to the provinces and they are still trying to rollback this process,” he remarked.
“The forces that had misinterpreted the clauses of 1973 Constitution are actively trying to distort the 18th amendment through different ways,” Rabbani noted.
He questioned the justification for the seven new ministries created after the 18th amendment, including the ministry of education and training, adding that the move is “completely unconstitutional. It will adversely affect the devolution process and suck back the provincial autonomy.”
Rabbani informed the committee that he is facing intense pressure from certain foreign donor agencies to keep some departments at the centre.
To this Senator Zafarul Haq retorted, “Why should we amend our Constitution on the dictation of foreign forces?”
He suggested the committee should take five devolved ministries in each term and look into the progress of the implementation of the 18th Constitutional amendment.
Furthermore, Senator Zahid Khan pointed out that the federation has retained some departments giving the impression that they were receiving foreign grants, but in reality as per the budget allocations, there was no such foreign assistance given to these departments.
Senator Jahangir Badr said that the relocation of the departments should be made as per the Constitution and in light of the 18th amendment.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.