18th Amendment Turned CMs into Dictators: PM Imran Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the federal government had no disagreement with any province over the 18th Constitutional Amendment as it only intended to remove specific anomalies, along with those that have turned the chief minister into a dictator.

During his interaction with journalists here at Governor House on Wednesday, the prime minister said that some federal subjects were wrongly devolved to the provinces under the 18th amendment, which would be returned back to the federation and for that all the provincial governments would be consulted. He said such powers had been vested in the office of provincial chief minister as the result of 18th Constitutional Amendment that were not even earlier available to any dictator. He said that CM didn’t pass on these powers to the local government level, turning him into a dictator.

He said that the current formula of National Finance Commission’s award was also flawed as up to 65 per cent fiscal resources generated in the country went to the provinces. He said that the federal budget is left with a deficit of Rs 700 billion after paying the debts and defence, and this arrangement was not feasible.

The prime minister said that Sindh CM Syed Murad Ali Shah while participating in the meeting of National Coordination Committee (NCC) agrees to his suggestions but later on Bilawal Bhutto Zardari gives them a completely different twist and statements of opposite nature. The PM said that Bilawal didn’t know how the poor people lived as the lockdown could only be enforced in Bilawal House, but it could not be implemented at such place where 10 people lived together.

As regards the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister said the NCC was meeting regularly and it was taking decisions about the measures to contain the contagion in consensus with all the provinces.

He said since day one he was against imposition of strict lockdown in the country to stem the virus as he was worried about the labour class, particularly the daily wagers.

The government had double responsibility of taking steps to contain the spread of Covid-19 and at the same time to ensure that the poor segments of society do not face financial challenges. Imran Khan said the federal government opted for imposition of smart lockdown and eased restrictions for many sectors of economy.

The decision proved fruitful as the smart lockdown had not only slowed down the transmission of the deadly virus but also helped save the economy from a major crisis.He said the government has now decided to go hard for the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The smart lockdown would be imposed in coronavirus hotspots areas across the country. He regretted that some elements were politicising on the coronavirus. The federal government had not done any kind of discrimination with any province, he added.

About local government system, Imran Khan said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was the only party which believed in devolution of powers to the local level and its provincial government practically executed the plan in that regard in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013.

He said the local government system was important for the resolution of people’s problems at local level. Under the new system being announced by the incumbent government, the mayors of cities would be elected directly by the citizens and that would help address the issues being faced by the mega city of Karachi.

To a question regarding the locust attack, the PM said the emergency had been declared in the country since January 31 and the federal fovernment was making all-out efforts to eliminate the locust swarms. The federal government was constantly in contact with the neighbouring countries, including Iran and India, and it had taken the provinces on board to devise a strategy for combating the locusts, he added.

Meanwhile, the PM Imran Khan said that the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the allied political parties were pursuing the common agenda of eliminating corruption, poverty reduction and improving public service.

In this regard, the federal government was cooperating with all provinces particularly Sindh, the prime minister said in a meeting with a delegation of allied political parties here at Governor House. Imran Khan said sustainable development was only possible through administrative reforms and devolution of power. He said political leadership in the past misused public offices for personal gains and ignored the uplift of masses.

The delegation comprised Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar, Kanwar Naveed, Kishwar Zehra, Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Haleem Adil Sheikh, Syed Afridi, Ashraf Qureshi, Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Irfan Marwat, Ayaz Latif, Sardar Abdur Raheem and Hasnain Mirza. The delegation presented proposals on development projects and administrative reforms for Sindh. Governor Sindh Imran Ismael, Privatization Minister Muhammadmian Soomro and Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Zaidi were present. 

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