Sep 08, 2009

Balochistan: Constitutional Quest for Autonomy

Sample ImageAs a Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms holds meetings, Provincial Autonomy raises debate in Pakistan.
Below is an article published by The News :

The nationalist parties from Balochistan and NWFP, including the ANP, have linked the repealing of the 17th Amendment with granting of autonomy to the provinces.

According to sources, during the three-day proceedings of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms that ended on Saturday [5 September 2009] the nationalist parties made it clear that there would be “give and take” on the issue of repealing the 17th Amendment.

The meeting was chaired by its Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani. The next meeting would be held on September 28 [2009].

The sources said the nationalist parties were of the view that the issue of division of power was only between the two political parties the PPP and the PML-N — and the nationalist parties were not interested whether the appointment of services chiefs should be in hands of the president or the prime minister but their main focus was the provincial autonomy.

The nationalist parties warned that if the committee did not make the provincial autonomy as part of the package then they would not support the repealing of the 17th Amendment, the sources added.

While the PML-N, the sources said, was pressurising the committee to repeal the 17th Amendment at the first stage while the issues like the provincial autonomy would be taken up later, as this issue would open new Pandora’s box. But the nationalists rejected this point, saying, “If they want to repeal the 17th Amendment, they can do it and we will not become part of it as it is not an issue of masses that who gets more powers.”

The sources said the PML-N had also opposed the renaming of the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa and termed it controversial name, which could create division among the people of the Frontier province. The PML-N suggested “Abaseen’ or “Khyber” as the alternative names for the province, they said.

They maintained said the PML-Q also opposed the renaming of the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa.

The sources said participants of the Saturday [5 September 2009] meeting took oath not to disclose any thing outside till the final report of the committee.