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pakistan
Sunday Jul 05 2020
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Govt has put a chokehold on provincial autonomy, says Bilawal Bhutto

Terming July 5, 1977 as the darkest day in the history of Pakistan, the PPP chairman in his video message said that the democracy in the country was still in its 'infancy period'. Photo: PPI/File

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari lashed out at the government on Sunday — observed by the party as 'Black Day' — for putting a chokehold on provincial autonomy.

The PPP chairman in his video message said that true democracy in the country is "still in its infancy".

Terming July 5, 1977 as the "darkest day in the history of Pakistan", Bilawal said that on this day, the Constitution was suspended, democracy tossed aside and the elected prime minister, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, removed.

That day, then army chief General Zia-ul-Haq had imposed a martial law across the country, overthrowing the elected government of Bhutto.

Zia promised to hold elections within three months of seizing power. However, that promise came true several years later and after Bhutto was hanged.

Bilawal, in today's message, said that the PPP will continue to make sacrifices to uphold the Constitution and will stand by the principles of democracy.

His remarks come on the back of the PTI's push for a review of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution which grants provinces greater administrative and fiscal authority and which was forged through a consensus during the PPP era.

In an interview aired on Geo News today, President Arif Alvi said that the 18th Amendment is a law like any other, which can be reviewed and changed.

He said that talks between the federal government and provinces have taken place on the issue.

"Gradually as our economy improves, which is under pressure from the coronavirus as well, an agreement will be reached [between Centre and provinces] on which province should get what slice of the cake," he said. "When the situation is 'tight', then disagreements on distribution of income take place even in a household or a family."

“There are always disagreements and differences between the government and the provinces. These have been there since independence. The 18th amendment is a law and just like any other law, it can be reviewed and changed,” he said, adding however that the move should be made harmoniously.

Similarly, while on a visit to Sindh last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that the government has no quarrel with the provinces and only seeks to remove specific "anomalies" in the 18th Amendment.

“Some federal subjects were wrongly devolved to the provinces under the amendment, which would be returned back to the federation and for that, all the provincial governments would be consulted,” PM Imran said.