Talking democracy: ‘18th Amendment harmonised institutional balance’

Published: November 13, 2014
Centre for Civic Education executive director Zafarullah Khan. PHOTO: ONLINE

Centre for Civic Education executive director Zafarullah Khan. PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD: The 18th Amendment redefined institutional boundaries within the ambit of parliamentary democracy and cooperative federalism and has benefitted Pakistan in a myriad of ways.

This was stated by Zafarullah Khan, the executive director of Centre for Civic Education, while speaking at a seminar on Wednesday.

The seminar, titled ‘Reclamation of Federal Democracy Through 18th Amendment: Lesson Learnt & Way Forward’, was organised by the Pakistan Study Group on Federalism at the National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research (NIHCR), Quaid-i-Azam University.

Khan said the 18th Amendment and its implementation is one of the most well-documented processes in Pakistan as the country is among 29 federally administered countries in the world.

He observed that the prevailing centralised mindset which he termed the “doctrine of institutional rule” has affected the functioning of the system. A centralised mindset promotes skepticism about the patriotism of provinces and this does not augur well for the gradual evolution of a federal culture and federal mindset in Pakistan, he stated.

Stressing the need for dissecting and disseminating various aspects of the constitutional amendment, Khan said well thought out reforms in the civil services at the federal and provincial levels were needed.

He opined that creative utilisation of inter-provincial coordination mechanisms can yield meaningful communication and cooperation. The performance of a ‘revitalised’ Council of Common Interests also inspires confidence and can serve as an effective forum for inter-governmental relations, he observed.

Earlier, in his welcome address, NIHCR Officer In-charge Dr Sajid Mehmood Awan said it is important to bridge the gap between academia and the policymakers. He added that the study group is striving hard to hold series of public lectures on federalism to facilitate the transition management of the 18th Amendment.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2014.

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