ISLAMABAD: The federal government has violated Constitutional articles 154 and 172(3) which pertain to the matters of Balochistan-produced natural gas and the just redistribution of financial revenue between the provinces and the center, Economist Dr. Kaiser Bengali told The Express Tribune on Saturday.
This is the first time that an official of the ruling party in Balochistan, National Party, has criticized the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government despite being part of its coalition. Bengali heads the Balochistan Chief Minister’s Policy Reform Unit (CMPRU) and also represents the Balochistan government in the Council of Common Interests (CCI).
Bengali pointed out eight violations on part of the federal government. These include the non-implementation of Clause 1 of Article 154 that demanded that “the CCI shall formulate and regulate policies in relation to matters in Part II of the Federal Legislative List and shall exercise supervision and control over related institutions”. Another violation that he pointed to is the non-execution of Clause 3 of the same article, which pertains to establishment of a permanent secretariat of the CCI.
He said that the federal government should have convened a meeting of the CCI at least once every 90 days. “It is a matter of regret that the federal government could not fulfill its constitutional obligations so far as the convening of the CCI meetings is concerned, despite repeated requests by Balochistan over the past year.” Until March 2015, the CCI has met only 16 times.
Bengali said that one solution to this problem could be a joint agitation by the smaller provinces, adding that they also have the option to approach the court over constitutional violations.
Ashtar Ausaf Ali, the prime minister’s assistant on law, admitted that the federal government hasn’t yet fixed a date to hold a long overdue meeting of the CCI but said that his ministry had already satisfied Balochistan on its constitutional economic rights. “Now the provincial government is not asking for the convening of the CCI meeting,” he claimed.
The CCI is the central political institution that regulates the competencies and settles disputes between the federal government and the provinces. This forum was provided in the 1973 Constitution, but its competencies became relevant only through the 18th Amendment. The CCI consists essentially of the prime minister and the chief ministers of the four provinces.
It is meant to harmonize the interests between the federal government and the provinces and regulates the distribution of essential tasks of the state services and care like health and social policies, public security, infrastructure and economic development, budget, culture and education.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2015.