A new constitutional package is evidently to be introduced soon in parliament which may contain provisions curtailing the powers of the president, incorporating a package of judicial reforms and strengthening provincial autonomy. Some are even advocating that this parliament should change the basic structure of 1973 constitution and make the provinces 'independent'. They wrongly believe that this is in consonance with the original idea contained in the 1940 Lahore Resolution. With respect, these persons are not only confusing the concept of more powers to provinces (which is an essential element of a federation and requirement of the times) with that of sovereign states (which is akin to confederation) but have also failed to truly understand the history behind the idea of Pakistan. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that Pakistan is and always will be a federation and this is where its future lies. It is unfortunate that even after 60 years, we are still arguing about this. The controversy has arisen from the text of the Lahore Resolution where it is indeed stated that "Scheme of federation embodied in the Government of India Act 1945... is altogether unacceptable to Muslim India...The (Muslim) areas...should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign." This does seem to suggest that our forefathers, at that time, may have desired Pakistan's constitution to be that of a 'confederation'. However a deeper probe shows that this was not so. Lahore Resolution was passed in the backdrop of Government of India Act 1935 with a federation at the centre. The point of view of Jinnah's League was that Muslims as a minority in a Hindu majority federation would be crushed, and felt that as long as India remained united it was imperative that Muslim majority areas should be independent and sovereign. This is clear from the historic speech of Jinnah at the Lahore Session of the League where he said, "Musalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation and they must have their homeland, their territory and their state...What the unitary government of India for 150 years had failed to achieve, cannot be realised by the imposition of a central federal government...The only course open to us is to allow the major nations separate homelands by dividing India into autonomous national states." In his book The Muslim League History Lal Bahadur states, "The question that naturally arises is why the League rejected federation at the centre...In the first place the Pakistan Resolution demanding independent states for Musalmans would have been rendered meaningless had the scheme of federation at the centre been promulgated for, in that case, the Pakistan areas would also have been amenable to its control. Then, there was dominated and exaggerated fear of the Hindu majority which would give it a commanding position at the centre." Jinnah explained, "Muslim India cannot accept any constitution which must necessarily result in a Hindu majority government. Hindus and Muslims brought under a democratic system forced upon the minorities can only mean Hindu Raj." The idea of Lahore Resolution was to chalk out principles of partition but Jinnah, the tactful politician as he was, deliberately did not give a comprehensive plan. According to Lal Bahadur "When the Resolution mentioned constituent units, autonomous in character yet sovereign, it appeared to be a contradiction worst confounded. Constituent and autonomous unit indicated a federal structure of Muslims areas claimed, but such a plan was contradictory so far as the units were required to be sovereign. Perhaps Jinnah wanted to be vague on this account as well, so as to convert his states into a framework of his own choice." The controversy was laid to rest in 1946 by the Quaid himself who when questioned about the type of federal state that Pakistan would be, responded: "Federating units shall have all the autonomy that is found in USA, Canada or Australia." This is why, while Pakistan has framed three constitutions in 1956, 1962 and 1973 and experimented with parliamentary, presidential, Islamic or liberal forms of government, each constitution has retained the federal structure. In fact it is the strength of the 1973 constitution (and one of the main reasons why it has survived many military interventions) that after vigorous debates a consensus was arrived at in respect of demands of provincial autonomy. Any attempt to replace 1973 constitution can upset the consensus on provincial or regional autonomy and open the proverbial Pandora box. Today over 2 billion people in 73 nation states are living under some form of federal structure and like them Pakistan too needs to make the Federation stronger. Indeed federalism is a device by which two sovereigns i.e. central and provincial coexist in one state. Federalism suits us fine as it caters for cultural pluralism, is based on respect for regional identities and seeks unity and diversity. On the other hand to have a federal structure written in a constitution is one thing but to govern in federal spirit another. Pakistan, although constitutionally structured as a federation with central and provincial governments, was de facto governed as a unitary state. The relationship between the 'Centre' and the units was not that of two sovereigns "independent of each other and yet dependent" but that of delegator and delegatee. It was consultative only when centre deemed it necessary and was not participatory nor mandatory. Establishment in centre got used to getting compliance from provincial hierarchy. Therefore neither constitutional conventions nor necessary institutions could fully develop. The provinces particularly smaller ones remained uneasy and dissatisfied with the federation. They resented centre's monarchical role and often vented their feelings of alienation. Demand for more autonomy arose from the role that centre played. Central and Provincial interests continued to clash as seen in the case of PPP and PML (N) which led to a direct confrontation between centre and Punjab. Similarly Council of Common Interest which had been envisaged as a useful institution for inter-provincial harmony was never constituted. Provinces have genuine grievances. Development in some provinces like Balochistan has been negligible and social work there remains criminally neglected. Provinces of Sindh and NWFP have also similar simmering reasons of political victimisation and arbitrary actions by centre. There are issues relating to Kalabagh Dam and lack of representation in defence forces of Pakistan. The royalty of Gas and allocation of net proceeds of taxes remain contentious issues. All this and more naturally gave rise to resentment in smaller provinces. What should then be done to alleviate the alienation of provinces. The surest way to make a federation stronger is to give more powers to the provinces while only keeping matters of federal interest with the centre. All parties should therefore lend full political support to the concept that "strong provincial autonomy means a powerful federation." PPP has made the issue of provincial autonomy a central point of its agenda and rightly so. I would suggest that the proposed constitutional package should contain following changes: " Federal list and concurrent as agreed in 1973 constitution be reviewed (30 years have passed) and a number of subjects in the concurrent list should be handed over to exclusive domain of provinces. " Provinces need to be given jurisdiction to deal with Railways, Gas, Industry and Electricity which presently are in the exclusive domain of the centre. " Formula for distribution of net proceeds of taxation by the federation. " Larger share of the royalty of Gas than the one operating today has to be paid to the provinces. It is not sufficient simply to carry out constitutional amendments but if pursuit of strengthening federalism is to be carried to its dispassionate and logical end, then further provinces need to be created out of the existing four. Since the boundaries of Punjab, NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan were not carved out by British not on any well-defined or clearly demarcated basis, there is no logical reason whatsoever why further provinces cannot be created not on ethnic, language or other such like considerations, but simply on geographical criterias. New areas of Southern, Central and Northern Punjab, Upper and Lower Sindh, Western and Northern NWFP and Northern and Southern Balochistan can easily be made into well-defined provinces. The provinces in a Federal Structure are not given any guarantee (either constitutionally or otherwise) that their given boundaries shall not be altered. Refiguring of provincial boundaries is an internal adjustment for better management of the Federation, and this fact is recognised world over. In Pakistan procedure for alteration of provinces is cumbersome and requires an amendment of the constitution as well as approval of 2/3rd members of the province concerned. It is unfortunate that we in Pakistan have made creating of more provinces difficult whereas other countries have acted differently. Accordingly the Constitutional Reforms should definitely consider creation of new provinces but should also make the future process easier by giving power to parliament to alter provincial territories through simple laws. The existence of more provinces, smaller in size and population, with more provincial autonomy to each such small province and less power to centre will in fact strengthen federalism and not weaken it. One voice raised by Balochistan resounds loudly but a demand from a smaller, newly created province would only signify a dissent and disagreement of a local nature by one of the many smaller provinces. Punjab itself would no longer be seen as a big brother usurping rights of others. Creation of more provinces in Sindh would solve various internal difficulties faced by this province. Attention of smaller provinces at centre would therefore be diverted towards national causes rather than raising regional issues and local matters would be solved at provincial level. In the end, I may mention that the recipe for the successful federation is "Autonomy with cooperation" and in the words of President Roosevelt "satisfactory results can be obtained when (both national and state governments) work heartily together." The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan E-mail: mnz@nexlinx.net.pk