Provincial autonomy ‘in real sense’ demanded
KARACHI, October 19, 2010: ‘There should be a democracy in Pakistan and the federation could be made stronger if provincial autonomy is substantially implemented with devolution of fiscal and administrative powers’.
This was the consensus of the speakers who had participated in a seminar on ‘Federalism and Provincial Autonomy’ organised by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) and Friedrich-Nauman Stiftung für die Freiheit (FNF) at Regent Plaza, Karachi on Tuesday. Ms. Sharmila Farooqi, Advisor to the Chief Minister Sindh chaired the session.
Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Executive Director of Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) shed light on the importance of federal structures as a tool for resolution of conflicts amongst different tiers of government. He stressed the need of good quality research inputs in policy making which can address problems of federation and socio-economic development.
Mr. Sadiq Ali Memon MPA of PPPP said that the people run the system, do matter. He argued that a democratic culture is necessary which requires continuity of democracy along with special efforts to create social and economic justice. General Sales Tax collection must have been part of provincial rights and there is need to create a more robust federal structure which should not only be ethnicity but also dominance of certain class of people represented in the military and civil bureaucracy. Disadvantaged groups must be provided opportunities to have a due share in representation and decision making bodies specially to resolve resource allocations such as waters of rivers.
Ms. Kishwar Zohra of MQM said that we need democracy but not a democracy in which there is no serious consultation. We need to learn from past and try to address the issues of injustices done to the East Pakistan. She stressed on the need for provincial autonomy to save this federation. However, she also argued for a third tier of government that is local government and that form of government can really help devolution of power.
Senator Dr. Khalid Mahmood (JUI-F) said that religion has been used to encroach rights of provinces whereas no religion has asked for violation of rights of the federating units. He stressed the need of distribution of resources. He argued that 60% oil and 48% of natural gas is contributed by Sindh province for Pakistan but even then the people suffering from lower levels of social and economic development such as Hepatitis etc. He wanted issuance of Aghaz-e-Haqooq-Sindh as well.
Ms. Sharmila Farooqi said that owing to repeating interventions of dictatorships have damaged the federal structure of Pakistan. She said that PPP manifesto argues for provincial autonomy and the government is fully committed to implement the constitutional provisions in this regard. She said that 7th NFC award made possible after 19 years which is an important achievement in establishing good quality federalism. 18th amendment is also a significant step to strengthen federalism through empowerment of provinces.