Thursday, April 01, 2010

Consensus on Constitutional Reforms: A very positive indicator

Parties strike accord on 18th Amendment By Ahmad Hassan
Dawn, 01 Apr, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms achieved on Wednesday a historic consensus on the draft 18th Amendment by overcoming all contentious issues ranging from the renaming of NWFP to the appointment of superior courts judges.

Members of the committee, headed by Senator Raza Rabbani, signed the draft document at a ceremony held at committee room No 2 of the Parliament House.

Sources said that after the ceremony the committee met again to decide a date for presentation of the bill in the National Assembly and Senate. S.M. Zafar, a PML-Q member of the committee, told reporters that the body would meet again on Thursday to fine-tune the document before taking it to parliament.

After hectic meetings between leaders of the PML-N and ANP and members of the committee throughout the day, the two parties agreed to a new name for the NWFP — ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ — choosing a middle path to end the controversy.

The PML-Q, the third stakeholder in the renaming issue, however, rejected the new name and submitted a dissenting note. It made two suggestions: ‘Sooba-i-Sarhad’ as the new name for the province or holding of a referendum.

After getting a fresh advice from the party leadership, PML-N members of the body agreed to the constitution of a seven-member judicial committee, to be headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, and to the nomination of a retired Supreme Court judge as its seventh member. He will be appointed by the CJ.

The all-party parliamentary committee has revisited all 278 articles of the Constitution and proposed amendments to about 100 of them.

For the first time in the country’s judicial history a consensus has emerged on reshaping the precincts of provincial autonomy by abolishing all items from the Concurrent List and handing them over to the provinces.

Efforts of the Pakistan People’s Party to finalise a constitutional reforms package suffered a major setback on March 25 after it failed to reach an understanding with the Pakistan Muslim League-N on the procedure for appointing judges and on renaming the NWFP before a joint session of the two houses.

The 27-member parliamentary committee was constituted on June 23 last year to revisit the 1973 Constitution in order to repeal the 17th Amendment and strike a balance of powers between the president and the prime minister, including removal from the Constitution of the controversial clause 58(2)b.

For complete article, click here
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