Dialogue on Future of Federalism and Democratic Devolution
On August 1, the Centre for Civic Education in Pakistan (CCEP) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) organized a dialogue with Pakistan’s mandate-bearing political parties on the Future of Federalism and Democratic Devolution in Pakistan. The aim of this exchange was to understand the perspectives of political parties on federalism and devolved governance following the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, and the monumental shift in the federal architecture of Pakistan brought about by it. The dialogue resulted in a productive exchange of ideas, deepening understanding on the issue of federalism and democratic devolution in the country and brought forward ideas on how the dividends of the 18th Amendment can be best optimized. This consultation also allowed provincial governments to discuss plans for the local governance structure.
Various ideas about strengthening federalism and improving devolution came forward in the dialogue. Equitable sharing of energy resources in the light of the constitution was identified as an important concern shared by most political parties represented. It was recommended that the new government should demonstrate its commitment towards strengthening of federalism in Pakistan by making a parliamentary committee to oversee the process of devolution in Pakistan.
Mark-André Franche, Country Director, UNDP in Pakistan, said that “This dialogue is instrumental for Pakistan’s democracy as the passage of the 18th Amendment can be regarded as one of its most significant achievements to date. The inputs from this dialogue will help develop a targeted program supported by UNDP and a coalition of donors to support the implementation of the 18th Amendment.”
The speakers included Mr. Zafarullah Khan, Chief Executive of the Centre for Civil Education Pakistan, Senator Raza Rabani from Pakistan People’s Party; Ms. Bushra Gohar, Senior Vice-President of Awami National Party; Mr. Jan Muhammad Achakzai, the spokesperson for Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI); Dr. Farooq Sattar, from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM); Dr. Ishaq Baluch of Awami National Party (ANP); Mr. Usman Kakar, representing the Pukhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party; Mr. Ajmal Khan Wazir of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid; Mr. Taj Haider of the Pakistan People’s Party; Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s Mr. Shoukat Yousafzai and Mr. Ajab Khan Afridi, representing the Qaumi Watan Party.
The conference was attended by representatives from most mainstream political parties that earned mandate in the elections of 2013, government functionaries, civil society representatives, academia, technical experts and development partners.