KARACHI   -  Veteran PPP leader and Senator Raza Rabbani Friday said that he had never ruled out any amendment to the 18th constitutional amendment as it is not sacred but any change should focus on giving more powers to provinces rather than curtailing it.

“If any attempt is made to curtail the powers then it could hurt the federation of the country that is unable to sustain anything in current circumstances,” warned the senator while addressing a press conference at Sindh Assembly committee room along with provincial advisors Waqar Mehdi, Rashid Rabbani and other PPP leaders.

Rabbani said that health, education and National Finance Commission (NFC) are some of the areas that government is mulling to target in 18th amendment.

“With announcements of using ordinances as a tool for legislation it seems like that the country is moving towards centralisation of powers but those in favour of it lack the two-third majority to amend the constitution,” he said.

Responding to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks on midterm elections, he said that the political parties were ready for the polls anytime.

“It is however, important to find out the circumstances that forced the prime minister to call for elections with just 100 days in the office,” he said adding that it seems that early elections are aimed at giving a two-third majority to Khan for amending constitution.

He said that the PPP has sacrificed its leadership and workers for the supremacy of constitution and democracy and would fight back against any attempt to destabilise the federation. “The betterment of the country lies in democratic, parliamentary system, federation and autonomous federating units,” he said.

Rabbani said that all political parties has unanimously agreed upon empowering the role of Senate and therefore some articles of constitution needed to be amended to make it happen.

He said article 57 should be amended and the chief ministers should be made part of the Senate proceedings so that they could brief Senators of the issues faced by the province. “We have also suggested amending article 62 aiming at baring outsiders of the province to become senator on provincial quota,” he said and suggested that no person could become senator from the province unless he is registered voter and have a five year permanent address of that province.

Suggesting amendment in article 72 of constitution, he said that joint sitting of the parliament affects the proportion of provinces in voting process therefore proportionate voting process for national assembly seats be introduced.

He also called for amendment in article 86 and said that instead of federal government, the Senate should approve the budget for three months of caretaker period. “The money bill should also be tabled at both houses of the parliament and this could be achieved by amending article 89,” he said adding that senate could also bring resolution for disapproval of budget.

The article 159 should be amended and chief justice should be replaced with Senate as arbitrator, he said.

Suggesting amendment in article 160 that deals with National finance commission (NFC) award, he said that if the government does not bring the award in its five year tenure then it should get assent from Senate to delay the award by a year and also raise provincial share by one percent.

The article 166 deals with borrowing agreement from federal government and it should be amended and Senate should also be included in ratifying the deals, he said adding that loans from IMF and Saudi could not help country revive unless its institutions are strengthened. 

 

 

ABDULLAH ZAFAR