18th Amendment: What Does It Say?

Posted on April 1, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Politics
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Adil Najam

Late Wednesday night the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms (PCCR) led by PPP’s Mian Raza Rabbani signed the draft text of the “18th Amendment” to the Constitution of Pakistan.

The News reports that some are describing this as “the best constitutional thing to happen since the 1973 consensus Constitution. It is, indeed, a major – even a ‘historic’ – development.

However, given that this is Pakistan politics, it will be wise to wait until this actually passes through Parliament, actually becomes reality and its provisions are actually made clear. After all, we are quite used to things changing – dramatically at that – at the last minute, and sometimes even after the last minute!

I have been searching for a full text of the current draft but have not found it yet, meanwhile as I wade through the various reports of just what thsi means, here are a few salient points that seem to be clear. Will appreciate if readers can add more on exactly what changes are included and what they will mean for Paksiatn and its Constitution (from various news sources):

  • Reportedly the draft of what is to become the 18th Amendment itself includes 95 amendments to the 1973 Constitution. These 95 amendments will effect 70 Articles of the existing Constitutions. There are three “schedules” and one “Annexure” in the draft package.
  • In particular, the 18th Amendment will undo the impacts of the 8th Amendment (enacted by Gen. Zia ul Haq) which had altered over 90 Articles of the Constitution, and the 17th Amendment (enacted by Gen. Pervez Musharraf) which had altered 26 Articles of the Constitution.
  • The famed article 58 (2) (b), which had first been inserted into the Constitution by Gen. Zia ul Haq and allows the President to dissolve Parliament, and which was re-enacted by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has been removed from the Constitution in the draft.
  • The new name of the NWFP is to be Khyber-Pakhtunkwa. The PML-N which had long held out on this issue has reportedly agreed to this name change, although PML-Q has maintained some reservations to it as has PPP-Sherpao.
  • On the other controversial issue of the composition of the Judicial Commission, the PML-N proposal of adding a seventh member who is a retired Supreme Court Judge has been accepted.
  • The draft proposes removal of many past amendments added by military rulers, including the 17th Amendment.
  • The draft abolishes the “concurrent list” and gives much more provincial autonomy than is now available to the provinces. The Council of Common Interest has been given additional powers and the provinces have been given more say on national matters by enhancing their representation in the council.
  • Reportedly the draft “purges” the name of gen. Zia-ul-Haq as President from the Constitution (it is not yet clear what this means in practice).
  • The next step in the process is for the draft to be now presented to the National Assembly after which the Government is expected to move the 18th Amendment for Parliamentary approval. It is expected that the draft will be tabled in Parliament within the next couple of days.
  • The committee which worked on this draft for nine months includes representatives from all the political groups having representation in the two houses of parliament. It included: Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, Syed Naveed Qamar, Babar Awan, Haji Lashkari Raisani, Ishaq Dar, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi, Wasim Sajjad, S M Zafar, Humayun Saifullah, Farooq Sattar, Haider Abbass Rizvi, Ahsan Iqbal, Afrasyab Khattak, Haji Muhammad Adeel, RehmatUallah Kakar, Abdul Razaq Taheem, Mir Israr Ullah Zehri, Professor Khursheed Ahmed, Hasil Bizenjo, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Abdul Rahim Mandokhel, Shahid Bugti, Munir Khan Orakzai, and Mian Raza Rabbani.
  • The original Constitution was passed in the first PPP government, which has also been the architect of the first amendments to it.

64 responses to “18th Amendment: What Does It Say?”

  1. attiya says:

    18th amendment is indeed good work by the government. Abolishing the 58-2b will hinder the president from dissolving the government, which will ensure the government will continue for 5 years atleast.

  2. jb says:

    will be 20th amendment with new article

    kuch na kaho .
    kuch bhi na kaho.
    kiya kehna hai.
    kiya sunana hai.
    mujh ko pata hai. tum ko pata hai
    samay ka yeh pal
    tham sa gaya hai .
    aur is pal main
    koi nahin hai
    bas ik main hoon
    aur ik tum ho

  3. 18th amendment is a great piece of work on part of politicians as ways of despots have been thwarted by help of this text andcredit goes to ppp regime as they authored this important document and culiminated it on 18th amendment.i am highly impressed by this text so there is still hope that pakistan can be one of the greatest state which we have always thought of it and ppp under leadership of bilawal bhutto zardari will steer this country out of such crisis in future because he possesses hereditary political leadership qualities and ppp will never end to shed blood to save pakistan from retrogressive elements.

  4. The 18th ammendment seems to be a magnum opus in context and text but what the reality would be is the matter of time. The decision of having judicial commission for the appointment of the judges which will coprise of the various members seems to be a pure democratic. And the percentage of tremnating some of the ministeries is a good news. The participation of non-Muslims in the Senate also is good sign of future for Pakistan and minorities.
    The amendment for any individual or a group or a party or supports the military access or tries to bring military in the boundaries from the boundaries will be considered as traitor because none is superior to Pakistan and its constitution.
    One of the most amazing thing is the thing that the judges are away from selecting their-napots.
    In its practical form the amendment may be a practical pilitics of any party that realizes it! The constitution also repeals the previous Gens. amendments and is accepted by the Parliament is really a voice of people. If all the parties of the Country work together for the national welfare and development and according to the constitution, the Paksitani peoples will change themselves for the development as well.

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