The 18th Amendment is undoubtedly one of the most significant pieces of legislation in the history of Pakistan. Bringing sweeping changes to the 1973 Constitution, it moved Pakistan closer to the spirit of federalism imagined at its birth by devolving considerable power to the provinces. Over the past decade, though, it has also been one of the most frequently debated issues in the country. Its detractors claim it has effectively remodelled Pakistan into a confederation, whereas its supporters have raised concerns regarding the centralising impulses of the state. The Covid-19 pandemic – requiring a centralised response in a federal structure – has highlighted this push and pull between the centre and provinces yet again — raising fresh defences and criticisms of the Amendment.
What has a decade of the 18th Amendment taught us about its successes and failures? Why does a polarising debate continue to simultaneously slot it as the greatest or most detrimental legislation in Pakistan’s history? Are there aspects of the 18th Amendment that need to be revisited or is it important for the federation to build further upon those aspects going forward?
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan
Federal Minister for Science and Technology
Dr. Nafisa Shah
Member of the National Assembly
Former Opposition Leader of Sindh Assembly