New social contract in the offing in Pak, says editorial

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Islamabad, Apr.8 : In the wake of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz emerging victorious in the February 18 general elections, there is a view developing that a new shape needs to be given to the quantum of provincial rights under the 1973 Constitution.

According to an editorial in the Daily Times, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani has suggested the need for a "New Constitution" to placate Balochistan and bring it back from its insurrectionary ways.

Raisani, according to the editorial, has refused to apologise for demanding the abrogation of the 1973 Constitution that is so sacrosanct to his party, the PPP.

Raisani instead has spoken of a "new social contract" based on the 1940 Pakistan Resolution because the 1973 Constitution has not "redressed the grievances of the smaller provinces".

According to the editorial, the state of Pakistan has to provide answers based on democratic norms.

The editorial further goes on to say that the history of the "autonomy debate" in Balochistan is long, with the "rebellious" sardars of Balochistan putting forward their "demand" for Balochistan to have all autonomy minus "defence, currency, communications and foreign affairs".

The Baloch demand springs from the strength of the province's alienation from the federation, says the editorial.

t concludes by saying that while there has been a call for a cessation of military operations in the restive parts of the province, negotiations between the leaders of Balochistan on the one hand and the representative parties of the federation on the other should begin.

The PPP-led coalition at the centre is more inclined to grant autonomy to the smaller provinces than any government ever before.

Once the talks begin under the Constitution, and such institutions as the Council of Common Interests are allowed to function with greater frequency, new ways of interpreting it in favour of devolution of power to the provinces will certainly be discovered.

A new social contract can emerge only from this discussion, far beyond even the 1940 Lahore resolution, which promised "sovereignty" to the "states" but did not ensure their survival.

ANI

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