In yet another episode of the power-grabbing chronicles, the two pillars of the provincial government, the legislature and the bureaucracy are at odds with the former wanting more executive powers. By legal definition, this is not possible. The theory and custom of separation of power ensures that lawmaking is kept separate from implementing it. The centre of the debate is the CPEC- a project that is tearing the country apart.

The MPAs maintain that they feel a sense of exclusion, as many of their concerns are left unheard-demanding more power in the development schemes as well as administrative matters. A committee has already been set up, comprising members from the PPP, PTI, PML-Q and PML-N and have presented its recommendations for more powers for the standing committees like suo-moto powers and analysis of the budget. For them, it is difficult to satisfy their voters, if the power to resolve all pertinent issues lies only with the bureaucracy. On the other hand the bureaucracy defends its authority, by asserting that the MPAs already have been interfering beyond their mandate. Moreover, they fear that if this practice continues, the tussle between the two pillars will become serious.

The problem with the CPEC is that it is an economic program. It cannot be distributed among the provinces as its aim is to make money, not to generate welfare. Additionally, there is no reason why the chain of command needs to become longer, with the creation of provincial bureaucracies to satisfy MPAs. It is just not possible to achieve everything with just one economic project- the CPEC is not a panacea. The question of whether provinces should have greater powers is pertinent, as we have a federal system, but it’s putting the CPEC at risk.

We are no strangers to corruption so delegating authority to provincial leaders might not be economical. What is needed is provincial oversight so that the centre does not eat up the money that is meant for infrastructural development. That is what the CPEC is- infrastructure. It is up to local private and public enterprises to populate the corridor and make sure they have links with the Chinese investment to make gains. If the route was agreed to over a year ago, why the ruckus now? And if it wasn’t agreed to then what was the consensus over? The CPEC is nothing but transport links. The provincial governments have to ensure they encourage local industry to be able to gain- they wont be getting money directly from China anyway. Pakistan is not a welfare state, and the federal government will not hold the hand of the provinces and keep them safe. Any gains and losses are up to the market to allocate.