Leaving the timing aside, the decision to bring up the 18th Amendment only to leave the contention vague can only be described as a political (mis)adventure.
debate on the 18th Amendment has surfaced once again. What appeared to be otherwise regular press briefings and statements by government ministers suddenly made headlines across the country over the fate of a legislation that had devolved both power and resources from the Centre to the provinces and further below – at least on paper – that too, a decade ago. All of this unfolded in the middle of a global pandemic that has claimed around 600 lives in Pakistan with the country grappling to make sense of the crisis as total confirmed cases come to around 25,000.
Leaving the timing aside, the decision to bring up this subject only to leave the contention vague can only be described as a political (mis)adventure. Days into the initiation of this sudden debate, government ministers are seen issuing contradictory statements on the subject to add to the confusion that prevails in the country amid the pandemic situation. There are those who claim that this may be an attempt to divert attention from the critique directed at the Centre for its handling of Covid-19. Then there are those who wonder if it is something more ominous. Meanwhile, the people struggle to cope not just with all that a pandemic brings with it but also the political drama unfolding in the country.
It has been a decade since the 18th Amendment was made part of the constitution. There are understandable concerns over the failure of successive governments to implement the amendment in full – without cherry-picking provisions that suited their interests. Debate on improving structures and mechanisms to facilitate legislative provisions under the amendment should be encouraged. But who can benefit from calling into question the federal character of the republic?
In our Special Report this week, we take a look on the political need for the amendment as well as the various challenges that have emerged over the years in implementing the law.