Since its independency, provincial autonomy is a figure out problem in the political and constitutional history of Pakistan. The country was overlooked under the five martial laws and long casualties of ruling elites in managing the powers. Since 1973, country was determined by two wings (West-East Pakistan). Prolong regime of general Ayub till 1969 damaged the political aspect of the country with falsification acts like EBDO (Elective Bodies Disqualification Ordinance). Military moral was down in dark years of the 1970s, former prime minister Zulifkar Bhutto was charged to control the country again. After 1971 war, Pakistan disintegrated, Bangladesh came into being due to lack of constituency and weak management problems. In 1973, It was the first time a constitution was shaped at its historical defects and recovered all miscalculated measures. Comparatively, 1956 parliamentary constitution, 1973 was clarified document to rule the country’s provinces with their status. But shockingly, ZA Bhutto was deceived and Martial law was imposed in July 1977.
In 1973 Constitution, pure parliamentary form of government structured in the country.Ex-president of the country General Zia-ul-Haque abrogated article 6 and he was in fear of death sentence from the judiciary.He had to obtain legitimate power to rule the country and safety block to legalize his illegal act. By enforcing presidential ordinances and provisional constitutional ordinance (PCO), General Zia amended constitution and made more powerful to the president in reference of Article 58 2(B) to dismiss prime minister on discretion. The blunders of establishment in the constitution were demotivated the political stability of the country and politicians were discouraged to participate, for suppose people’s party of Pakistan boycotted the 1985 party less elections. The shuffling of powers used to shift from one hand to other hand till 1990s decade. But in 1997, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had disabled 8th amendment changes in the constitution and introduced 13th amendment. The game was not over yet, soon coup was imposed and inserted again 8th amendment workable under the shadow of 17th amendment included by martial law administrator general Musharraf; again, political activities were stopped in the country. Former Politician Sharif was jailed, and ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto exiled from the country.
The whole scenario to abrogate and promulgate new amendments to the constitution, irritated major political parties such as PPP and PML(N). In 2006, Both Parties signed the charter of democracy in London, Nawaz and Bhutto agreed to stay away from the military involvement and supporting to martial law regimes, thick or thin not to support the military in political activities and reduce the establishment role in democracy. While the vision of the signing charter was to improve democratic structure in the country and to sweep the footprints of the dictators from the constitution. Consequently, PPP came into power in 2008 general elections. First time in the history of constitution 18th amendment was introduced, and more than 102 Articles were amended in the constitution. The major changes of the amendment were to increase the provinces powers to give control on demanded subject, to remove 17th amendment changes and reshaped the 7th NFC award of the country. It was the first time in the history of Pakistan, President Asif Zardari dropped his own powers to the parliament and scheduled parliamentary supremacy. In 2010, it was major change in the constitution, provinces have awarded autonomy and retitled their names schedule in Islamic democratic Pakistan.
!8th amendment was passed and implemented within 10 days. It was game changing and threat to the authoritarian rule and their hegemony in different area like Baluchistan. Rather at next side, provinces had grievances of due share in natural resources of their own, that issue resolved in the amendment with more powers of health, education, curriculum, and more than one percent of GDP control in each province. This amendment resolved insoluble crisis of the country and made a strong federation in the country and referred as the “New Constitutional Software of Pakistan”.
Recently, after 2018, PTI government is supporting to the establishment and criticizing the 18th amendment role in the region. Prime Minister Imran khan also showed favor for the presidential form of the government while his party manifesto is talking about the devolution of powers at grass root level according to local government set up. During first session of Parliament after lockdown, Foreign minister blamed to people’s party to use SINDH CARD, further he discussed the 18th amendment and suggested to revisit weak parts of the amendment. Responsively, opposition criticized the statement of Shah Mahmood Qureshi and said government is confused in coronavirus pandemic, prime minister has no strategy to settle the issue of COVID-19. Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abasi demanded from ministers to show documentation steps for the coronavirus, further he claimed if 18th amendment is the main reason of virus spreading we will quite of it.
The major conflict of the federal government is that it cannot perform well in various subjects like health is in hand of provinces but federal has appointed health expert. So, in that condition it is hard to manage the extra expenditure of the desired institutions for the federal. For centralization of powers, Pakistan Tahreek Insaaf government is trying to grab powers from provinces in favor of the establishment to manage finances. Either on second page establishment is indigent of provincial governments for holding influence in regions and provinces are moving free to make contract with the military for their support and withdraw willingly at any time due to accountability in work which is not bearable for them. Constitutionally or cooperatively, PTI government wants settlement on NFC award reconsideration and pushing back some subjects from provinces to control the cost of the system. Ruling elites are playing major role to support the PTI at every step to curb the provincialism. As for as PTI is giving out for two years struggle after in power.
Lastly, the overall propaganda against the 18th amendment in political climate of the Pakistan is an interesting debate. PTI government faces soon its consequences in sharp response of the opposition. It is already accepted that PPP will never go to be compromised on 18th amendment because it is produced by their own party sacrifice and greatly all provinces are beneficiary of it.
Youm-e-Takbeer: When A Responsible Nuclear Power Was Born
Youm-e-Takbeer is a day of greatness when Pakistan already a responsible country was transformed into a strategically mature regional power. It sensibly understood the management and liability of having nuclear weapons for security. Ever since independence, Pakistan is neighbor to a hostile state – India, ruled by extremist Hindutva ideology that has threatened Pakistan’s sovereignty and existence. In 1948, India forcefully occupied Kashmir, Hyderabad, and Junagadh areas by massacring people who did not want to annex with India.
In 1971, Indian subverting and destabilizing activities resulted in disintegration of East Pakistan. India till today is covertly sponsoring terrorism through its agents in Iran and bases in Afghanistan to weaken Pakistan. In 1998, India tested nuclear weapons while openly threatening to sabotage Pakistan. Therefore, on 28 May 1998 Pakistan as a direct response also tested nuclear weapons to deter Indian aggression at any cost. Pakistan annually commemorates this day as the National Science Day and also as a reminder of the struggle and great odds it faced in order to defuse Indian threat.
“If India had not exploded the bomb, Pakistan would not have done so. Once New Delhi did so, we had no choice because of public pressure” – Former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif.
Acquisition of nuclear deterrence capability was also necessary to project Pakistan’s self-sufficiency in defense against any territorial threat. Pakistan’s nuclear tests made it clear that when it comes to national honor and survival, Pakistan would maintain a balance of power against its adversaries. Indian acquisition of nuclear weapons compelled Pakistan to build its nuclear muscle for improving national security, otherwise it had no intentions to do so. India’s covert pursuit of weapons of mass destruction had drastically heightened the security perception of Pakistan.
South Asian strategic dynamics were changed forever with the advent of nuclear weapons. Former Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani warned Pakistan that it should “realize the change in the geo-strategic situation in the region and the world” and Pakistan must submit to Indian dictation otherwise “will be futile and costly for Pakistan.” So, the hostile hegemonic plan of India had to be neutralized by Pakistan through reciprocating nuclear tests. Since then, nuclear dissuasion has played a critical role in political security and strategic stability of South Asia. It is pertinent to note that Pakistan has always been hesitant to engage in the nuclear weapons race in South Asia.
It is quite obvious that Pakistan’s decision makers are well aware of repercussions of military conflict and escalation as well as nuclear arms race in the region. Pakistan on numerous occasions has bilaterally proposed India to limit the manufacturing or acquisition of nuclear weapons in order to strengthen arms control and disarmament in the region. India, though, has always declined to sign any disarmament or restraint agreement with Pakistan.
So, it is India, which is to be blame for triggering the nuclear arms race in the region. For instance, following are the occasions when Pakistan proposed restraint solutions to India:
1974 – The establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in south Asia.
1978 – A joint Indo-Pakistan declaration renouncing the acquisition and manufacture of nuclear weapons.
1979 – Mutual inspections of nuclear facilities.
1979 – Simultaneous adherence to the NPT.
1979 – Simultaneous acceptance of full-scope IAEA safeguards.
1987 – An agreement on a bilateral or regional nuclear test ban treaty.
1991 – Commencement of a multilateral conference on the nuclear proliferation in south Asia.
1993 – Creation of a missile-free zone in south Asia.
1998 – A strategic restraint regime aimed at ensuring a nuclear restraint, establishing a conventional balance, and resolution of all disputes between the two countries.
2004 – A joint agreement to reduce the threat of nuclear war and a missile race.
2006 – A prohibition on development of missile defense systems, and restraint in deployment of nuclear weapons and missiles.
2011 – Again a Strategic Nuclear Restraint Regime (SNRR) pertain to Missile Restraint, Peaceful Resolution of Conflict and Conventional Balance.
2016 – A bilateral arrangement on non-testing of nuclear weapons.
These propositions, however, were met with cold feet by India, which not only decreased nuclear weapons control possibilities in the region, but also pressured Pakistan to enter the nuclear arms race. Unlike India, Pakistan has no offensive strategic approach or aggressive hegemonic design rather, its nuclear capability is purely defensive. A nuclear conscious Pakistan has a strong understanding of the sensitivities involved in military adventurism.
Youm-e-Takbeer has helped Pakistani leaders in making wise decisions to consistently support nuclear nonproliferation. Pakistani scientists and engineers have employed research and development of nuclear technology for peaceful uses. For instance, power generation, agriculture, medicine, and environment. Pakistan believes in peaceful coexistence and as a responsible nuclear country, it has put serious efforts to settle longstanding disputes. If the international community would force India to follow the same, South Asia could not go into nuclear brinkmanship.
The U.S Lauded Pakistan’s Assistance in Fighting COVID-19
The United States has thanked Pakistan for its donation of protective gear and surgical masks to support the fight against coronavirus. In a Tweet, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appreciated Pakistan’s goodwill donation of surgical masks and protective suits to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He said this delivery is a symbol of Pak-US solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 and termed it a “partnership for the prosperity of the two countries.”
Meanwhile, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells, in her tweet, also expressed gratitude to Pakistan for the goodwill donation. She said our countries’ health partnership and the coordinated response would help defeat this virus and rebuild our prosperity.
Earlier, the consignment of Personal Protective Equipment from Pakistan via a C-130 flight from Islamabad landed at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. The equipment was also handed over to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency for onward delivery to the US armed forces.
Pakistan values its Seven Decades-long friendship with the US. Although, it is meager Medical Supplies, yet as a token of friendships values a lot. Pakistan is also facing a huge challenge of the outbreak, and the rapid growth is alarming in Pakistan. Nevertheless, Pakistan is a responsible nation and always willing to share its part of responsibility in any part of the World. Either it is a natural disaster or warlike disaster, Pakistan always played its role on the front line as a volunteer. Pakistan is a country with the highest number of philanthropists per million population.
The US was one of the few first countries that recognized Pakistan in 1947 after getting independence from British rule. Pakistan was a close ally with the US in the cold war era and the Afghan War. Pakistan was a frontline ally with the US in its War on terror. Pakistan enjoyed non-NATO close ally status. Definitely, Pakistan was also beneficiary of US AID and assistance. Either it was on Economic front, or S&T, Defense or Education, Military or civilian, Agriculture or Industry, almost all areas witnessed the US assistance in the past. The US is a major trading partner with Pakistan too.
Pakistan has no objection if the US changed its priorities and aligned itself with India. The US is aiming to strengthen India to counter China, but India used all of the American assistance to counter Pakistan. The US may keep balance and restrict its assistance to India to a condition not to use against Pakistan. There can be designed a monitoring and tracking system to check that American assistance is not used against Pakistan directly or indirectly. A close monitoring system may be deployed on India and verifiable by any third party. I believe “there is the way if there is a will.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan is a visionary leader and peace-loving in nature. His declared-policy to be a partner in peace with any country in any part of the World is well appreciated widely. Pakistan was a victim of the Afghan War for the last four decades and learned a bitter lesson. War means disaster; War means a net loss of human lives and economy; War means no victory for either side. Pakistan will be no longer partner wth any one in War with any country.
Pakistan’s strategic location, where it connects almost half of the World and at the major trade route – Middle-East to rest of the World, is vital for maintaining peace and stability of this region as well as the whole World. Pakistan is a nation of 220 Million, with its 70% population of youth under the age of 40 years. Pakistan is a resilient nation and can survive under any circumstances.
Pakistan wanted to keep traditional friendship with the US and strongly wish an early resumption. Pakistan wanted to contribute its potential to global peace and stability. In the past, especially in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Pakistan kept close alliance with the US while maintaining its strategic relations with China. I hope the US may not object to Pakistan’s strategic interest with China or Russia while restoring traditional friendship with Pakistan.
The Need for Pakistan’s Digitalisation Policy
Change is the only constant and one has to keep evolving through new trends in order to compete with the changing dynamics of the world. There is no denying the fact that any country’s economic growth is now directly linked to one factor i.e., adoption of information and communications technology. The adoption of digitalisation is the new reality where majority of population has access to mobile phones and internet than to basic necessities of life. Digitalisation is not a choice, it is the need of the hour, therefore, the governments are now determining their policies and strategies for digitalising every sector, to promote and strengthen their socio-economic fabric.
Keeping in view the current scenario, the COVID-19 has had a major impact on almost all socio-economic sectors, the digital world has never been more important than it is today, Digitalisation is the new normal where consumers are buying everything online whether it is to buy groceries and essentials or to socialise and virtually reach with friends and family. During this critical time, many of these adoptions will persist long even after the situation has stabilised.
Globally countries are adopting new ways through digitalisation to ease the life of their citizens by providing them with improved and rapid amenities. The access to free internet services made it possible to pave the way for effective digitalization. An exponential increase is observed in the number of internet providers and consumers which demonstrates that the world is adapting with the concept of digitalization. It is witnessed that the developed countries has already shifted all their services from the outdated ways to online portals to facilitate the masses. In recent years, Pakistan is also evolving its IT sector promptly by introducing the latest technological mechanisms in the country.
The present government has taken up the task to digitalize the entire country and is working hard to create an e-governance system to bring down corruption, to ensure accountability process and also to augment the productivity in the country. The government has been taking great strides in the advancement of technology- from the Mohafiz app to digitizing the Postal service and the introduction of Tax Asaan mobile app which provides taxpayers with quick access of verification features like active Taxpayers list (ATL), NTN/STRN inquiry and exemption certificate etc. and many more. The PTI government has been proactive in the inclusion of technology within various segments and has also launched the online FIR system where people can submit their complaints online, and will be facilitated by government officials.
Nevertheless one might assume that digitalisation and government don’t blend,but in reality this fusion is helping the government agencies and officials to represent their agendas and administrative progress directly to the people through social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.).Perhaps the defined role of government social media accounts is to serve as a source of unrestricted updates. This includes everything from present initiatives to upcoming policy reforms and breaking news. Therefore, news should be a foundation of your content strategy as a government account. For instance, we are currently seeing social media crisis management in action for government organisations, including real-time updates in response to COVID-19. This illustrates that social media actually serves as a first hand source of information and provides people with timely updates. This is the brilliance of digitalisation and government that the voters and opposition are already there and the government has only one job that is to publish content which engages the attention from the public. This also suggests educating your followers by clarifying potential misinformation, keeping in view the fact that how quickly fabricated content can spread through social media, the government accounts serve as an important source for authentic information.
Statically, as per Pakistan’s Digital2020 Report, Feb 2020: there were 76.38 million internet users in Pakistan in January 2020 which illustrates that the number of internet users has increased by 11 million (+17%) between 2019 and 2020 and internet penetration in Pakistan stood at 35%. As far as the social media users in Pakistan are concerned, the number has increased by 2.4 million (+7.0%) between April 2019 and January 2020 which shows that there were 37.00 million social media users in Pakistan in January 2020 and the penetration rate stood at 17%.The source of this penetration depends widely on mobile connections in Pakistan. Reportedly, there were 164.9 million mobile connections in Pakistan in January 2020. The number of mobile connections increased by 9.6 million (+6.2%) between January 2019 and January 2020. Surprisingly, the number of mobile connections in Pakistan was equivalent to 75% of the total population in January, 2020.
With these growth trends projected to persist in the future, Pakistan is dire need of a comprehensive ‘Digitalisation Policy’. There should be a policy that must be implemented in its true spirits, and the government should devise an efficient monitoring mechanism to evaluate the vitality of that policy.
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