ISLAMABAD: Besides crying foul for encroaching in provincial domains on part of federal government, speakers at a national seminar in Islamabad pointed out lethargic provincial governments in devising mechanisms and introducing legislation after the 18th amendment passed in 2010.
Speakers were also of the view that instead of raising issues at outside forums, federal government and provinces must resolve conflicts through available forums like Council of Common Interests (CCI), National Economic Forum (NEC) and invoking Articles 146 and 147 of the constitution.
The seminar was organized by Center for Civic Education under the topic of “Conflict Resolution through Democratic Devolution and Constitutionalism in Pakistan” and addressed by representatives from federal and provincial governments and political parties.
The seminar recommended abolishing petroleum ministry including office of the Director General Petroleum Concession at the center and a “Petroleum Concession Commission” should be established with equal provincial presentation. It was also urged that the forum of Planning Commission should be federalized in true spirits with ensuring provincial representation.
Presenting results of the study on “Constitution and Conflict Resolution in Pakistan”, Zafarullah Khan said that despite available constitutional mechanisms, federal as well as provincial governments have not appropriately availed them to reap fruits of 18th amendment.
“Provinces have also not enforced the power to plead their cases at constitutional forums of CCI, NEC and NFC and to requisite these meetings,” he said.
“The power to democratically contest the decisions taken at these forums in the Joint Sitting of the Parliament and to invoke the Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court Article 184(1) were also not availed,” he added.
He was of the view provinces and federal governments prefer to resolve issues through all parties’ conferences, protest letters and protests in front of the parliament and media.
Senator Hasil Bizinjo, Chairman of the Senate’s Functional Committee on Devolution, said that the traditional processes of approval and allocation of development through planning commission and other forums is flawed, which needs to be overhauled.
He was of the view that the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources (PMNR), organizations like PPL and OGDCL has turned into white elephants and they undermine the constitutional supremacy of the provinces and the parliament.
He concluded that besides legislating on devolved subjects, provinces are equally responsible to implement 18th amendment and to invoke articles of the constitution which ensures provincial autonomy related issues.
Dr Kaiser Bengali, member NFC Baluchistan was of the view that at one hand provinces have not properly utilized resources provided under NFC but at the other, federal government is busy in implementing IMF conditionalities, which undermines the constitutional supremacy.
He said that the constitution has a great power to strengthen federation but the government in center imposes interpretation of the constitution in its own benefit.
He demanded to abolish MNPR, Federal Public Service Commission and the office of Director General Petroleum Concession (DGPC). “There should be a Petroleum Commission consists of provincial representation to decide about matters related to oil and gas as per the constitutional provisions,” he added.
Member NFC Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Senator Prof Ibrahim said that there are grim hopes to award 9th NFC, as Punjab has not nominated its member for the forum, which has halted the whole process of NFC working committee.
Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmed, Chairman Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination said that federal government has retained all profitable business and ministries and devolved ineffective and non-beneficial departments.
He was of the view that federal government is not implementing article 279(g) to ensure disparities in government jobs that is resulting deep sense of deprivation among smaller provinces.
“The federation of Pakistan cannot guide towards the course of prosperity and progress until federal government bureaucracy of changes its anti-provinces mindset,” he said.
Economic Expert and former Chief Economist, Dr. Pervez Tahir said that the federal government is intruding in provincial domains by announcing agriculture packages and fixing agriculture commodity prices, which itself is an utter violation of the constitution.
Dr. Kazi Mujtaba Kamal, Deputy Secretary IPCC admitted that there has been unnecessary delay in holding CCI and IPCC meetings. “The government has indicated holding of regular meetings of the CCI meetings now onwards,” he assured.
Dr. Ishaq Baloch, Coordinator of the Policy Reform Unit Baluchistan said that despite passage of 18th amendment, encroachment is continued in shape of existing of health, education and agriculture ministries.
MPA PMLN Raheela Khadim said Punjab is dealing with world’s largest school education system but resources are meager to run them as per international standards.
Secretary IPCC and Law for Baluchistan Mohammad Ali Kakar said it is unfortunate that CCoP and ECC have become more powerful decision making forums on the subjects exclusively falls under the domain of CCI.
MQM MPA Mr. Poonjo Bheel, Former Federal Secretary IPCC, Mr. Ahmad Mahmood Zahid and others also spoke on the occasion.