Why Government Wants to Reverse Eighteen Amendment?

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Sher Zada;
The recent attacks made by Imran Khan prime minister of Pakistan and his politically fugitive team on 18th amendments reveals the powerlessness of current government; it seems that the government is not run from Islamabad but from somewhere else. On April 8,2010 Eighteen amendments was not passed by the list of some blind people sitting in the National Assembly of Pakistan, but they were elected members who came to power through a proper constitutional election that was held in 2008. The need of devising 18th amendment came due to increasing deprivation and administration chaos in the provinces. General Pervez Musharaf the former military ruler imposed 17th amendments by overlapping 13th amendment that was incorporated by the then elected prime minister of Pakistan Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif aimed to extend his rule and presidential power to dissolve the parliament in good faith for serving his personal interests. The tradition of derailing democracy in Pakistan is not a matter of surprise, before General Pervez Musharaf his predecessor General Zia-ul-Haq took first step to clutch on powers by passing the Eighth amendment on 11th of November, 1985, whereby he could dissolve the parliament as per his wish and mode. Almost twelve years later this act was dismantled by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by passing thirteenth amendment in 1997.

But once again in December 2003 a man in military uniform known as General Pervez Musharaf reversed 13th amendment by passing 17th amendment although it was a filthy trap exercised by the military dictator but he covered it with a political recipe by bringing Legal Framework Order (LFO) and incorporated Article 63(1) (d) to the constitution of Pakistan. Although the LFO was brought just to fade away the defaming vacuum that was created after forceful ousting of Nawaz Sharif. This was a self-made insertion by Musharaf and his seasonal allies to cover him up and extend his ruling era. Apparently incorporation of Article 63(1)(d) was seemed a good gesture by the general public and political analysts commented it as positive step towards democracy . According to that article no person could hold on two executive governing domains at one time, especially the person in uniform, but the dictator played a well plotted jigsaw to enact this incorporation practical by December 31, 2004, thus he enjoyed ruling the country while putting his feet in combined pair of military and civilian shoe and flattered the country with smoggy dictatorship. Nevertheless he played chess with politicians by making fraction in the political diaspora of Pakistan and became successful in giving birth to a new political sub fraction of Muslim League the Muslim League Quaid-E-Azam or in simply Muslim League (Q) that provided him with a shield to keep him safe from the political attacks of somehow democratic parties i.e. Pakistan People Party and Muslim League Nawaz.

Thus he sustained his power for three and half years more. But according to the unstable nature of Pakistani politics first black slash happened to his career on November 3, 2007 when he imposed an Emergency in the country and launched crackdown against lawyers across Pakistan. Another sad incidence of planned assassination of Shaheed Benazir Butto the former and the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan cemented public hat against the then dictating ruler Gen. Pervez Musharaf. Afterward General Elections of 2008 were held and the demise of Shaheed Butto favored Pakistan People Party to come in power by forming a coalition government. Once again the disabled democracy in Pakistan stood on its feet and after two years in power successfully passed 18th amendment on April 8, 2010. The 18th amendment was applauded in the political sphere of Pakistan as well as also appreciated by general masses. Through this amendment provinces got provincial autonomy in the sectors of Education, Health, Resources production etc. On one hand this decision lifted burden of the federal government by decentralizing the power balance at the center and handing over responsibilities to the provinces. The erstwhile North West Frontier Province (NWFP) was renamed as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The 17th Amendment and Legal Framework Order as introduced by Musharraf was repealed, the name of the former military president of Pakistan Gen Zia Ul Haq was removed from the text of Constitution. Provinces were allowed to devise their development programs and allocate budget independently that excelled the process and initiation of projects as per the need and priorities of the provinces. A major development was the annexation of powers from the governor mostly favorite person of the president (governor) to the man of social or political background i.e. chief minister. Thus a backdoor that was traditionally used to suck out billion of rupees allocated for the development of underprivileged areas shut forever. Once again jargons to reverse the 18th amendment have been unleashed in media and exposited by leading party figures of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI). Here the questions arises that why this issue is being raised amid the COVID-19 pandemic? Was not Imran Khan the Prime Minister of Pakistan aware of this issue before? Why he did not make it a slogan of his political campaign beside his slogan for change? This is not a big deal to find the answers of these simple but worthy questions. As we have two Prime Minister Houses at one time, the one is the old one that situated in the red zone in Islamabad, while the other is the new one that is located in Banigala at the property of former cricket player. Nowadays the former PM house is mostly run by ghosts while the latter is run under the shadows prismed directly from General Head Quarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi.

The newly employed cabinet and set of ministries have been handed over to the retired military men, including the ministry of interior, Attorney General, Chairman NDMA, Chairman PIA etc. and other leading departments are headed by retired military men. Reports shows that almost eighteen cream seats are already occupied by those who have completed their service in Pakistan Army, Pakistan Airforce and Pakistan Navy. Recently the media is being exploded with news that governorship of Sindh province is going in the hands of Ahmed Shujah Pasha the former Director In-Chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), followed by a news that the current Chief of Army Staff has admitted the economic failure of Pakistan amid COVID-19 and demanded PM Pakistan for 20 percent increase in salaries of armed forces. Now imagine 20 percent increase in the salaries of more than six hundred thousand persons beside heavy air force and navy will put how much burden on the national treasury of Pakistan. So in these conditions what a puppet and selected government could do except derailing the pre-militarily infected democracy from the track of development through reversing amendment passed by democratic governments. Don’t make noise, don’t put a question before the government that why she needs to reverse 18th amendment, be safe ,stay at home ,because generals know better how to run a country during a political as well as a natural pandemic and puppets know how to obey as docile either because of incapability or fear to tell the truth.

The writer is Islamabad based Journalist and Working Staff Member at Daily Parliament Times Can be reached at [email protected]