Fate grimacing

The Constitutional Reforms Committee of the Parliament is stuck deep in the issue of renaming the NWFP, Pakhtunkhwah or what? In endless haggling over this relatively small issue, the Committee has tried to put the cart before the horse. This does not surprise me, though, because our entire constitutional history is mired with instances of misplaced priorities. Similarly, the issue of provincial autonomy has been agitated out of proportion making the PCCR almost non-functional. Provincial autonomy and renaming of the NWFP may be important matters, indeed, but compared to repeal of the 17th amendment, these two subjects have deferrable priority as first the Parliament has to be enabled to undo the various distortions that Musharraf had brought in the basic law of the land. The primordial principle of first things first has been flouted by the Committee at the peril of possibly unintended but extremely damaging delay on an issue concerning the future of constitutional democracy in Pakistan. What the PCCR is doing in it's marathon sessions is drafting a new constitution which could take ages to materialize. If the 17th amendment has to be repealed immediately, and I trust Prime Minister intends to deliver on the promised good news in this regard, the horse must be put before the cart. If that is not done, Pakistan would remain under the dark shadow of dictatorship indefinitely. With avoidable delay of every passing day, Pakistan is losing years of constitutional progress. This incremental loss may become unmanageable and subsequently fatal to the federation if the Committee does not recognize that time is not on our side. Being a PPP worker myself, it is my responsibility to sound this warning in national interest with the hope that someone in the Committee would care to listen. -B. A. MALIK, Islamabad, December 31

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