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Another U-Turn: In Opposition, PTI Opposed Changes To 18th Amendment

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As the country battles the Coronavirus pandemic, the PTI government has introduced a discussion on changes to the 18th constitutional amendment. Senior figures associated with the ruling party have attempted to downplay concerns about the future of provincial rights and federal harmony if the key constitutional amendment is revisited.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressed concerns that the government intended to do away with the 18th amendment, while making the case for a review of the same. In his view, the provinces had received resources from the centre under the NFC awards system, but had not passed these on to the local level.

Federal railways minister Sheikh Rasheed has spoken of efforts by the ruling party to take the opposition PML-N on board for reviewing the 18th amendment.

But matters were not always so. In August 2013, the PTI leadership had vowed protests after the then federal petroleum minister had proposed to revisit the gas-sharing formula between provinces – especially Article 158 of the constitution, which addresses the distribution of gas between the provinces.

At that time, PTI figures led by Dr. Arif Alvi (now President of Pakistan) had stated that they would resist any attempt to meddle with the 18th amendment. They had taken the view that such proposals would take the country back to the era of military strongman Ayub Khan – under whose rule the infamous One Unit system had been introduced.

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