PESHAWAR - Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani while talking to media before delivering a lecture on “Challenges in Implementation and Management of Provincial Autonomy in the Context of 18th Amendment” at National Institute of Management, Peshawar to participants of 23rd mid-career management course said that the 18th Amendment provided mechanism for resolution of conflicting issues among the provinces and gave a more vibrant role to Council of Common Interest (CCI).

He said that the 18th Amendment was a paradigm shift and according to the new paradigm strong province guaranteed stronger Pakistan.  He said that implementation of the 18th Amendment was still a far cry as a centrist mindset was still creating hurdlers in the way. 

Rabbani observed that provinces had also become lethargic in seeking true implementation of the amendment and as a result the federal government still exercised its control and provinces were being denied powers in terms of financial resources and control over natural resources.

He said that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah visualised a progressive democratic welfare state but the concept was changed to a national security state resulting in providing an opportunity to the civil and military bureaucracies to take all levers of power in their own hands. 

Rabbani said that health and education had historically remained provincial subjects but the provincial rights were usurped by the federation.  He said that a particular mindset was opposing the transfer of health and education including curriculum and syllabus to the provinces. He further said that the state wanted to create a set of citizens who are not ready to question its excesses. 

The federation is unwilling to transfer health to the provinces due to the fact that there are perks and privileges attached to it, he said, adding that the constitution and rule of business provided for a mechanism to settle the question of autonomy.

He termed the CCI as the engine of 18th Constitutional Amendment, saying that the amendment was aimed to place the CCI at juxtaposition with the federal cabinet. 

Rabbani gave a detailed overview of the functioning of the CCI and its new role after the 18th Amendment. He held the ruling elite responsible for not evolving a mechanism and a system to rid the country of the quagmire of challenges. He called for making the Parliament stronger, transparent and vibrant to reach out to the people and inspire confidence in the general public.

The chairman Senate while answering a question observed that the scheme of 1973 constitution was that the Senate would be repository of the defence of the powers of provinces, provincial autonomy at the federal level and therefore, the mode of election of the Senate was based on the method of single transferable vote for the reason that all the shades of political opinion in provincial assembly would have an opportunity of being a representative of federal level in the Senate.    

He demanded more powers and enhanced role for the Senate in budget formation and underscored the need for an effective mechanism to communicate the provinces.