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International Conference on 18th Amendment at LUMS
Courtesy: Sameen Andleeb Mohsin Ali
The LUMS Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Hanns Seidel Foundation organised a two day conference on 'Federalism in Pakistan after the 18th Amendment.' The first day was spread over four sessions, each very well attended.
The inaugural session began with a welcome address by the VC LUMS, Dr. Adil Najam, who appreciated the timeliness of a conference on this topic. Senator Raza Rabbani delivered the keynote address on the occasion. Senator Rabbani elaborated on the consultative process that took place in order to draft the 18th amendment bill amongst the different parties, and commented on the salient features of the amendment itself. This session was also attended by Senator Sartaj Aziz.
The first session of the conference, 'The 18th Amendment: Re-structuring the federation', featured presentations by Barrister Shahid Hamid, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan, and Dr. Mohammad Waseem, Professor, LUMS Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Waseem presented an overview of the different types of federalism, and later focused on the idiosyncracies of Pakistan's federal system. Barrister Shahid Hamid focused on the legal aspects of the 18th amendment.
The second session of the day, 'Emerging Provincial Dynamics', was chaired by Dr. Ayesha Jalal, Professor, Tufts University, and currently a Visiting Professor at LUMS. The panel of speakers included Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed, Director of the Pakistan Studies Centre at the University of Karachi. He focused on some of the issues with the 18th amendment and the need for further reform. The second speaker, Dr. Haider Nizamani of Simon Fraser University, addressed the Sindh nationalist position and their view of the 18th amendment. The final speaker of the session Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, Adviser to the National Accountability Bureau, focused on the Seraiki movement and the attitude of the national security state towards this movement and others like it.
The final session of the day, 'Economics of devolution: Cost and benefit', dealt with the economic costs and benefits of the 18th amendment. It featured presentations by Asad Sayeed, Collective for Social Science Research, Karachi; Ayesha Pasha, Director of the Institute of Public Policy, BNU; and Haris Gazdar, Collective for Social Science Research, Karachi. Sayeed presented on the federal government's deficit and the impact of the 7th NFC Award, while Pasha discussed the impact of devolution on federal and provincial resources, addressing the issue of how provinces are to finance the changes made in the 18th amendment. The final presentation of the day was by Gazdar, who presented a game changing re-evaluation of Pakistan's natural gas reserves, linking it to Pakistan's GDP, and commenting on the link between natural resources and civil war.
Each of the sessions concluded with a question answer session, raising a number of relevant points and debates regarding the 18th amendment and its implementation. The conference will continue today with a session on 'Sub-provincial identities and local government'. Speakers at the session include Jaffar Ahmed, Aasim Sajjad, Charles Kennedy, Faisal Bari, Ali Qazilbash, Marie Lal, S.J. Burki, Balveer Arora, and Christian Wagner.