Sept. 16, Islamabad: Senator Mian Raza Rabbani Friday spoke his heart out after observing a dangerous trend which may rollback spirit of the 18th constitutional amendment and warned that any such conclusion would be detrimental to the federation of Pakistan.
“Spirit of the 18th amendment is in danger to be rolled back. We must ensure the rollback is stopped. You have the political history of state suppression, state disappearances, and state murder and torture. You have the history where the provinces were denied the rights to promote their languages,” he told a cream of academics in Islamabad.
The Centre for Civic Education Pakistan (CCEP) and the Forum of Federations in collaboration with German Foreign Office organized the roundtable on the important subject of devolution of education sector to the provinces. Eminent educationalists, senior officials of education ministries, chairmen Textbook boards, vice chancellors of major universities from the four federating units and Islamabad, and research scholars attended the roundtable titled “Education in Federally Organized Countries: Choices and Challenges for Pakistan.”
With his bold and critical analysis of post 18th amendment era Senator Rabbani captivated the audience of that intellect in an hour-long speech. Despite his affiliation with the ruling party he blamed the establishment and some elements within the ruling elite of trying to circumvent the process of devolution. Known as chief framer of the 18th constitutional amendment, Rabbani earlier headed a committee to formulate the amendment and later a commission to oversee the implementation process.
He told the participants of the roundtable that President and Prime Minister rendered their full support to process of devolution. “However, some courtiers thought the 18th amendment would never see light of the day. They thought even if it was passed it would not be possible to implement this gigantic amendment.” He deplored that several people with centrist mindset strongly opposed the process of devolution and provincial autonomy which is a blatant attempt to violate the Constitution. “Don’t forget there was a huge trust-deficit between the provinces and the centre which still persists,” he said.
Senator Rabbani reveled the implementation commission faced a strong opposition from several quarters in the second phase of the devolution of ministries to the provinces. He specified that the nation was misled on the question of devolving the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the Provinces. Making another example he said the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission was supposed to be handed over to the provinces, but several times the Implementation Commission faced resistance from the Prime Minister Secretariat.
Referring to a recently held national conference on syllabi and curriculum, he said the federal government or the Planning Commission had no constitutional or legal authority to organize such a conference after the 18th amendment that empowered provinces to exclusively deal with the issue of syllabi and curriculum.
“It’s no business of the planning commission to call such a conference. I know it is organized to please some international donors so they should continue their funding, he said, adding should the government keep on jumping at the whims of international donors and circumvent the Constitution. He told the participants that a long debate took place whether to empower provinces to device their own educational policy and prepare curriculum and syllabi. The antagonists contended that an East Pakistan situation was being created. They believed empowering provinces to deal with the subject of education would threaten the ideology of Pakistan.
Senator Rabbani believed teaching students in Punjab about Ranjeet Singh or Bhagat Singh would not harm Pakistan in any away. “Pakistan was created to become a welfare state, but the purpose was changed and the country became a garrison and national security state,” he said, adding the distorted version of history was no longer relevant in the post 18th amendment era. He reminded the 18th amendment was a culmination of the Charter of Democracy signed between Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif.
Pir Mazharul Haq, senior minister Sindh, Dr. Salman Humayun, Farah Hamid, secretary Higher Education, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, Mrs. Aftab Anayat, additional secretary Sindh, Dr. Allah Bakhsh Malik, Secretary Literacy Punjab, Akbar Hussain Durrani, secretary education balochistan, Zafarullah Khan of Centre for Civic Education and chairpersons of Textbook boards, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan also addressed the meeting.