Mian Ashiq Hussain In the age of burgeoning unions of sovereign states like European Union that are moving towards more Federalism, the federation of Pakistan is creaking under the strain of violent centrifugal forces. Evidently, there is something fundamentally wrong with our institutions. How is the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms going to rectify the situation if it is not supposed to touch the nuts and bolts of the constitution, that is if its frame of reference is limited to just the review the I7th amendment? There is certainly no light at the end of the tunnel. The burning issue is not the choice between dictatorship of Prime Minister or that of President, nor the academism of Parliamentary or Presidential system. The real issue is the substitution of the present colonial set up with a participatory democracy, the replacement of the over-centralized system with a vibrant federalism and enfranchising of the populace. That is possible only by passing on the independence granted on August 14, 1947 to the people of Pakistan. A glimpse of the Quaid-e-Azam's vision is eminently evident in his criticism of the Government of India Act 1935, because it safeguarded the power structure of the Empire instead of genuinely empowering the people. The 1973 constitution, in its original form as well as in its versions distorted by dictators, essentially preserves the spirit of 1935 Act. In fact, it may even be in a position that is two steps backwards from the 1935 Act when both houses exercised equal legislative powers and the Senate was added mainly as an embellishment. Secondly, the divisive awards of National Finance Commission have been a perpetual bone of contention. The nation has to move forward from 1935 and proceed into the 21st century. The Senate should be made truly representative of the federating units with equal role in all the legislative matters including money bills and the Senators should be chosen through direct elections. Simultaneously, tax subjects should be redistributed between the federation and provinces in such a way to secure their respective freedom of action. The divisive NFC should be abolished. These two steps will eliminate a lot of friction and spur enormous freedom of action that is indispensable for progress and prosperity. Admittedly, the provincial autonomy was the corner stone of Jinnah's Fourteen Points. The history of last three centuries has witnessed rise of federations and the retreat of unitary governments. Nevins and Commager, the authors of 'A Pocket History of The United States', say in their analysis that the retreat of the British Empire was precipitated by its failure to evolve a workable federal system. The main task of historic proportions before our Parliament, thus, is to outgrow British unitary constitutional thought and work out a plan for genuine federalism that guarantees a living federation and a blooming coordinate of federating units. Naturally that can be possible only if the PPP-led government has the grace to unclench the excessive grip it has on the over-centralized powers and functions of the federal government and let such powers flow towards the provinces, local bodies, punchayats, Jirgas and other social groups. Inaction to take even first long promised step in the direction --deletion of Concurrent List is, however, ominous. Surely, the Parliament can play an immortal role if it is able to strike the much-needed balance between the three branches of government. Presently, the President exercises executive authority, he can also legislate through Ordinances. And in a state of Emergency, he can even suspend constitutional provisions and rule provinces through the Governors. Tribal Areas are ruled by the President and the Governors. The President and the Governors can here and there exercise quasi-judicial powers as well. Conceptually, it is the continuation of the British constitutional thought that recognizes the King as repository of all powers, executive, legislative and judicial. The monarchical tradition has seriously preempted genuine evolution of the constitutional institutions catering to indigenous aspirations and local needs. In Pakistan, undue adherence to the colonial tradition has rewound the clock towards medievalism. In the words of Justice Brennan, "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny". It is imperative, and in alignment with the Quaid's Azam's vision that the Parliament should rise up to the occasion by putting an end to legislation through Ordinances and Declarations of Emergency. If other nations could wade through wars and emergency-like situations without the clutches of ordinances and declarations of Emergency, what makes them necessary for Pakistan. With the separation of powers, the legislature has to take driver's seat and all clogs put on the legislative process in the schedules of the constitution, through contrivance of the dictators, must be scrapped. National Assembly should be a standing body with fixed days of election every four years. It will be appropriate to expand writ of the National Assembly to curtail the tenure of constitutional offices from five to four years. Time is also ripe to consign the indirect elections for constitutional posts to dustbin of history. Simultaneously, legislature too should rise above its members' fondness to meddle in executive affairs like the allocation of development funds and take over its forgotten task of clearing the debris of antiquated statutes so that new dynamic laws can be created to enable the nation to march forward in step with the contemporary world. Only forward-looking approach can steer us out of the crippling status quo and collapsing disorder. The ambivalent policies of successive governments to privatize profits and nationalize losses have increasingly unleashed galloping hunger and misery. We need to flesh out a constitutional equilibrium that secures life, liberty, livelihood, happiness and honour for every citizen in a fast developing society. The revival of the spirit of freedom movement may surely enable us to overhaul the constitution so that it may transform the failing polity into a leading state with immense prospects. Nations fail or flourish depending on the nature of the relationship between the individuals and the institutions. The dynamic evolution of such relationship is the sharp focus of a constitution. The Parliament has a historic opportunity before it to change the destiny of our people by strengthening the institutions, preserving the uniqueness of individuals and closing the door on dark desires of the dictators by empowering the people through a dynamic legal system capable of meeting the challenge of global competition.