Provincial Autonomy in Pakistan

Complete provincial autonomy means absolute independence of provincial government.
Constitution in Pakistan is going through a major reshape under proposed 18th amendment and provincial autonomy is focus of this process and a buzzword in Pakistan now a day. Provincial autonomy means a system of provincial government independent and free from any external influence or reliance.

Provincial Autonomy in 18th amendment:
The 18th amendment to Pakistan’s constitution became law after country’s President signed it on April 19, 2010. This historic accomplishment was achieved after many rounds of discussions and compromises. The key achievement of endeavor was restore much of the original 1973 constitution and to shift away the massive power that was given to the Presidency under military dictators General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf. However, the people of small provinces were once again cheated away and the promise of provincial autonomy was largely limited to cosmetic changes and use of buzz words such as abolition of the concurrent legislative list containing subjects where the Federal government and the four provincial had shared jurisdiction prior to the 18th amendment. Indeed, it was the long standing demand of provinces to do away with concurrent list and restore sole provincial jurisdiction as provinces had enjoyed under British before Pakistan was created. Deletion of concurrent list is the crux of the matter in this scenario.

1. Article 38 .Promotion of social and economic well-being of the people.- Added new paragraph (g) the shares of the Provinces in federal services, including autonomous bodies and corporations established by, or under the control of the Federal Government, shall be secured and any omission.

2. Article 156 – National Economic Council – 18th Amendments adds words “added “Balanced development and regional equity”.

3. Article 161 – Natural gas and hydro-electric power – 18th Amendment adds clauses that:
(a)• the net proceeds of Federal duty of excise on natural gas levied at well-head and collected by the Federal Government and of the royalty collected by the Federal Government, shall not form part of the Federal Consolidated Fund and shall be paid to the Province in which the well-head of natural gas is situated;
(b) the net proceeds of the Federal duty of excise on oil levied at well-head and collected by the Federal Government, shall not form part of the Federal Consolidated Fund and shall be paid to the Province in which the well-head of oil is situated.

4. Article 167 – Borrowing by Provincial Government — 18th Amendment: After clause (3) the following new clause shall be inserted, namely :”( 4) A Province may raise domestic’ or international loan, or give guarantees on the security of the Provincial Consolidated Fund”.

5. Article 172 – Reports of Auditor-General – 18th Amendment adds a provision that “Subject to. the existing commitments and obligations, mineral oil and natural gas within the Province or the territorial waters adjacent there to shall vest jointly and equally in that Province and the Federal Government”.
Although it was the demand of the provinces that they should have equal ownership in all mineral oil and natural gas fields including the existing ones which the above clause continues to keep under federal ownership. Nevertheless, it is a reasonable compromise.

6. Under the 18th amendment, the following matters are moved from PART I (where jurisdiction is strictly federal) to PART II (where Council of Common Interests advises):
* Electricity
* Major Ports
* Census
* National planning and national economic coordination
* Legal, medical and other professions
*Standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions.

7. Other than some jurisdictions from Concurrent Legislative List and Part I of Federal Legislative list that have been moved to PART II of Federal Legislative list, the Concurrent List is abolished and the Provinces regained the jurisdictions on the following matters:
* Sales Tax on Services (The fact is in most democratic countries.
* Duties in respect of succession to property.
* Estate duty in respect of property.


Provincial autonomy is our main national issue though there are constitutional provisions available to implement it. We as a nation are living under a system that was enacted to safe guard imperialist designs. But now we should emerge as an honorable and independent nation. For this, we must draft a new social contract. But do not have such social, economical and political factors which can cause in declarations of new social contract.