Eighteenth Amendment: PML-N rolling back devolution plan, says Rabbani

PPPP leader says all powers being grabbed by one province.

Hafeez Tunio July 14, 2013
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani. PHOTO: FILE


Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) leader Senator Raza Rabbani has said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML N) government was pushing the country backwards by trying to “rollback” the 18th Amendment.

Addressing a joint press conference along with other PPP leaders at Qasr-e-Naz on Saturday, he said PML-N was taking unilateral decisions on law and order, energy, health and education which were provincial subjects.

“It seems PML-N government is creating ‘one-unit’ like situation by grabbing all the powers under one province,” he said

“Even after one month of taking over the reins, the federal government has yet to form the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to make important decision for the country,” Senator Rabbani who also happens to be additional secretary general of the party said.

Flanked by Senior PPP leaders Taj Haider, Rashid Rabbani and Waqar Mehdi, Raza Rabbani warned the federal government to change the attitude otherwise it will face dire consequences.

Referring to Article 154 of the Constitution he said, “The prime minister has to constitute CCI within two weeks of taking oath. But this decision is still awaited. This is not only the violation of law, but it has breached mandate of the parliament by not implementing the 18th Amendment in letter and spirit,” he said. The chief ministers and finance ministers of all four provinces are members of the CCI where important decisions are made, but the federal government is giving impression that it is not willing to accept the devolution plan, he said.

Recounting a number of recent decisions by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Rabbani said it tantamount to breach of trust between the centre and the federating units.

“The federal government is trying to snatch the provincial governments’ rights by imposing tax on services. The government enhanced the GST before the finance bill was passed. The prime minister visited ISI headquarter with only the chief minister Punjab for briefing from the spy chief. The federal ministers for health and education have been appointed despite the fact that these departments have already been devolved to the provinces. This is direct interference in provincial governments’ affairs,” he remarked.

The PPP leader went on to say that federal government had inked the agreement with IMF in order to get more loans on different terms and conditions, which must be taken up at CCI meeting for the formal approval.

Criticising the centre’s decision to finalise the energy policy without taking Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) governments into confidence, he said said, “The federal government in its meeting held on June 28 finalised the policy, but majority of the representatives who attended the meeting belonged to one province (Punjab) and not a single representative was summoned from Sindh and K-P where large number of natural resources including gas, oil and coal exist wherefrom government has been generating the electricity.

He said that majority of the gas is produced from Sindh, but major share of which is diverted to Punjab. “We are not using Sindh card, but this is a reality. First the government should meet the energy demand of the province wherefrom the gas and oil is produce and then distribute it to rest of the country,” Rabbani said.

He termed “action plan for education” devised by federal government “illegal” and said, “Education is now a provincial subject. Let the provincial government work on it, giving it full autonomy, rather than creating hegemony of one province, which is tantamount to imposing one unit,” he concluded.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2013.