The controversy created about 18th Amendment by a few columnists in their out of context and twisted comment refuses to end. It was reignited by a letter sent by the Cabinet Division to the provincial governments to evaluate the impact of this legislation on the federating units. PPP Senator Sassai Palejo, in her speech in Senate said a rationale is being worked out to roll back this important legislation which has restored the Constitution to its original form and has ensured provincial autonomy. She said that journey towards democracy and establishing supremacy of constitution was not an easy task.
Federal Minister for parliamentary affairs, Sheikh Aftab told the Upper House of the Parliament that the reservations of the opposition political parties about the scrapping the 18th Amendment are not valid. He assured the house that the legislation will remain intact but it needs further refinement for which some amendments will be required. He disclosed that matters of some federal ministries are being reviewed.
The authors of 18th Amendment has given greater autonomy which was not conceived to that extent by the framers of the 1973 constitution at the time of its passage from the constituent federal legislature. That is why some legal experts and political analyst are of the view that 18th amendment has altered the federal structure of the Constitution and has virtually converted the federation into a confederation. They cite the examples of Sindh government repeated confrontation stance in the past over granting power to Rangers to restore law and order in Karachi. Likewise, the delaying tactics adopted by the government of Punjab to allow the operation of Paramilitary Forces against the sleeper cells of banned outfits which carry out terrorist attacks in the province and Baluchistan. The clause that enshrine the approval of provincial legislature for the imposition of Governor’s Rule necessitated by total break down of law and order in a federating unit does not exist in the Indian Constitution, which is a functional democracy.
The issues pertaining to the formulation of national water policy and construction of big dams have been made hostage to the whims of provincial governments. These matters fall within the purview of federal government. The government of Sindh opposes tooth and nail the construction of dams on the River Indus both upstream and downstream Tarbella Dam. It was because of this hostility towards the construction of much needed big storage dams that Diyamer Basha and Monda dams’ projects were not tabled in the recent meeting of the Council of Common Interest despite their clearance by CDWP. The national interest must be protected with constitutional mechanism. Man made laws are not so sacrosanct that their further amendment and refinement should be prohibited.