Episode 14 | Understand the gravity of situation in Afghanistan with Abubakar Farooqui (Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan) – Rationale-47
Pakistan has had a very intricate political and constitutional history since its independence in 1947. The state has been through numerous martial laws and military coups, while most of the powers were with the ruling elite. Pakistan has seen many limited and undeclared wars, but the 1971 war was an outcome of the lack of Pakistan’s constituency and its political instability. Hence, the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan was established with emphasis on political and constitutional stability within the domestic sphere of the country.
The Constitution of 1973 has proved to be the ‘Supreme Law of Pakistan’, as it led to the formation of a parliamentary form of government. However, at that time, there was an abrogation in the Constitution which had severe consequences, as the President enforced presidential as well as provisional constitutional ordinances in the country. General Zia-ul-Haq, the then President, amended the constitution by strengthening the presidential powers in reference to Article 58 2(B) of the Constitution. The political situation of Pakistan remained unsettled and there were many ups and downs in the political powers, between the rulers of Pakistan. The constitutional stance of Pakistan saw a major transformation in 2010 when the 18th Amendment was introduced in the Constitution of Pakistan. The main aim of the enforcement of the 18th Amendment was to increase the provincial autonomy.
The 18th Amendment was implemented within ten days of its establishment. It was considered to be a game-changer in the political history of Pakistan as it reduced the authoritative structure within the country and led to a rather decentralized way of managing political powers. The initial issues and claims of the provinces regarding the share of natural resources, socio-economic and educational aspects were resolved in the 18th Amendment. Additionally, the 18th Amendment of the Constitution of Pakistan basically settled the political crisis of the country by creating a solid federation in the state.
The 18th Amendment also empowered the provinces to a great extent, by giving them constitutional rights and responsibilities along with the authority to manage their political spheres. Moreover, the federal government was prohibited to impose any national emergency in the country without the consent of the provincial administration. It is pertinent to note that the Article 140 (A), which was introduced in the 18th Amendment, set minimum standards for the formation of local governmental associations by the provinces and also furthered the expansion of the basic fundamental rights such as the right to education, freedom of expression and the right to information.
In the 18th amendment, the federal government was prohibited to impose any national emergency in the country without the consent of the provincial administration
It is pertinent to note the fact that there have been numerous costs for Pakistan to the passing of the 18th Amendment. The first issue that was raised at that time was the initiation of the 19th Amendment that was planned after the Supreme Court relapsed the 18th Amendment to the Parliament for reconsideration with regards to changing the executive and legislative powers of the country which the Supreme Court considered the benchmark of the principal structure in the constitution. The second major issue which was raised after the passing of the 18th Amendment was the core concept of permanency of opportunities in the Constitution. The main political party at that time was the PPP, and its governing policies formulated a Parliamentary Committee on the Constitutional Reform in order to fix the constitution of its democratic aspects.
In the contemporary time period, it can be argued that the 18th Amendment has raised numerous questions over its impact and effectiveness, specifically regarding the devolution of power to the provinces. Initially, the sole objective of the 18th Amendment was to limit the power of the Centre and regionalize authority to the provinces. It created various structures and also improved those structures which had mandatory jurisdiction on the basis of agreements by the provincial areas. However, the effectiveness of the 18th Amendment is observed through the actions of the political elite who are accused of using power for their own personal interests, which has further brought mistrust between the society and the state. These shortcomings after the passing of the 18th Amendment have been seen inadequate in provision of the minimum services to the public in the current situation caused by COVID-19.
As soon as the country faced the COVID crises, the healthcare unit was lacking in resources, specifically in hospitals where there was a need for ventilators and ICU beds. At this time, there was need for the 18th Amendment to be implemented wisely and strategically, as the provinces looked upon the Central government for financial and medical support. Currently, the health system of Pakistan has not been very efficient, despite the fact that the Centre has allocated financial support to the provinces. Since the emergency rules have been abrogated in the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, such crucial times face severe consequences, specifically due to this. The federal government should be able to formulate policies to allocate its resources in the provinces in order to deal effectively with the national crisis caused by the Pandemic.
The effectiveness of the 18th Amendment is observed through the actions of the political elite who are accused of using power for their own personal interests
Finally, it is arguable that the 18th Amendment was initially a very reasonable principal, with the aims of bringing stability in the constitutional history of Pakistan, but it has not been implemented effectively. Also, the responsibility of the implementation of the policies regarding the 18th Amendment has been ineffective, which is why Pakistan still faces political instability in the current time period. Thus, one can say that the 18th Amendment has guaranteed its availability of resources in times of need, but there is lack of responsibility of its implementation which was coherently needed to be presented in the devolution of power and authority to the provinces.
About The Author
Zalanda Wiqar Shah has completed her Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations at Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. Her area of Interest is Human Rights and International Law, under the context of International Politics. She is also interested in the philosophy of history.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Rationale-47.