WITH the 18th Amendment now a part of the Constitution, its proponents have begun singing paeans of praise about its crucial significance, while the opponents have sharpened their criticism and even taken recourse to the Supreme Court for adjudication on whether some of its provisions were violative of the basic structure of the Constitution. The President, in his address at a sugar mill in Bahawalpur on Wednesday, boasted that the Constitution now stood cleansed of the stains that dictators Zia and Musharraf had left on it. Against this view, however, there is no dearth of people who are convinced that it has, in fact, been mutilated, and deeper stains have taken the place of the earlier ones. PPP leader Barrister Aitzaz Ahsans stand that the Supreme Court cannot nullify the decision of a two-thirds majority of Parliament is hotly contested by a number of legal experts like President of Supreme Court Bar Association Qazi Anwar and its former President Hamid Khan. The SCBA has filed a petition against the Amendment, and so have others. PML-Ns attitude has been quite confusing; it went along with the rest of the parties to vote for its passage but, at the same time, its leaders including Mian Nawaz Sharif have been giving out mixed signals. Now, Ch. Nisar Ali Khan has stated that the PML-N would remain neutral should a clash develop between Parliament and Judiciary. The truth is that the 18th Amendment, as the constitutional reforms committee had drafted, was hardly expected to meet the concerns of those who had genuinely desired to see the Constitution restored to its original form. Too many controversial issues, other than the removal of real irritants in the shape of the 17th Amendment and 58(2)b, were incorporated into it to make its countrywide acceptance possible. Not a few observers believe that the whole purpose of drafting a massive constitutional reforms package was to prolong the period during which President Zardari could continue to wield powers that he had promised to shed, since ironing out the points of dispute in the package would obviously take a long time. When the draft document was kept secret, even during the hurried debates in both Houses of Parliament, and only sketchy details that some members of the committee chose to reveal became public knowledge, suspicions began to grow and critical voices became shriller. The leadership should pay heed to the call for 19th Amendment and coolly thrash out the issues that have caused dissensions across the country, with the only objective in mind: keeping the national interest supreme