The Lahore Journal of Economics 15: SE (September 2010): pp. 15-31
The Endemic Crisis of Federalism in Pakistan Raza Ahmad∗
Abstract This paper looks at the issue of federalism in Pakistan. It begins with an analysis of the conceptual paradigms of federalism and goes on to examine the history of federalism in Pakistan. The paper goes on to discuss the reasons for the failure to develop an organic federal covenant as well as discuss how the 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award and the 18th Amendment may be indicative of a paradigm shift. The paper concludes by presenting the way forward for federalism in Pakistan. Keywords: Federalism, governance, Pakistan. JEL Classification: H77, O2. I. Introduction This paper will examine the history of Pakistan’s experiments with systems of state governance, with a view to understanding the dynamics of Pakistan’s various federal arrangements and their impact over time. In doing so, this paper will argue that Pakistan has failed to establish an effective federal covenant between its constituent units, despite some incremental movements toward regional autonomy and devolution. It will further argue that, in an attempt to shift the focus of the analysis toward the agency of societal forces, the failure to create a workable national covenant has led to what may be called the syndrome of a ‘failing society’. This assertion will entail an analysis of contemporary political attempts to rectify the dynamics between federating units, for charting the potential course of Pakistan’s future federal arrangements. Before one can embark on the task of tracing Pakistan’s federal trajectory, however, it is necessary to theoretically identify, locate, and explicate federalism in order to comprehend its significance in the context of the Pakistani state. ∗
Raza Ahmad is a policy adviser and researcher based in Lahore. He has worked with the Asian Development Bank, United Nations and the Government of Pakistan.
II. Federalism in Conceptual Paradigms
A Working Definition of Federalism
Ronald Watts (1998) defines a federation as a compound polity combining constituent units and a general government, each possessing powers delegated to it by the people through a constitution, each empowered to deal directly with the citizens in the exercise of a significant portion of its legislative, administrative, and taxing powers, and each directly elected by its citizens (Watts, 1998, p. 121). As a normative concept, federalism is the advocacy of a pragmatic balancing of citizen preferences for (a) joint action for certain purposes and (b) self-government of the constituent units for other purposes.
Federalism and Social Capital
Jason Mazzone (2001) argues that federalism promotes the kinds of social relationships that allow citizens to overcome collective action barriers and get things done. That is, federalism has value because it promotes social capital or ‘features of social organization such as trust, norms, and networks that can improve the efficiency of society by facilitating coordinated action’ (Mazzone, 2001, p. 27). An important benefit of dividing authority between the national government and sub-national units is that such division increases the points of political power over which citizens can exert influence in order to achieve their goals. Rather than facing a single governing entity under a federal system of government, citizen groups (whether ideological, ethnic, civic, or otherwise) can influence political outcomes by directing their resources toward local, state, and national levels. A political environment in which there are multiple sites for influence promotes the emergence of social capital because such an environment is conducive to a large number of interest groups in which citizens actively participate. Thus, federalism provides opportunities for smaller groups of the citizenry to organize and pursue their goals in a variety of settings, rather than...
References: AB Commentary (2003). Federalism in a Globalising World: Challenges and Responses. Economic and Political Weekly, 38 (36): 3763-3769. Adeney, K. (2007). Federalism and Ethnic Conflict Regulation in India and Pakistan. 1st Ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Chesterman, S., Ignatieff, M., and Thakur, M. (2002). Making States Work: State Failure. United Nations, University Press. Cohen, S.P. (2002). The Nation and the State of Pakistan. The Washington Quarterly, 25 (3): 109-122. Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, (2010). Held, D. (1994). Democracy: From City-States to a Cosmopolitan Order. In The Polity Reader in Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity Press. Goodson, L.P. (2001). Afghanistan 's Endless War—State Failure, Regional Politics, and the Rise of the Taliban. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press. Hooper, E. (2003). Review of Social Exclusion in Selected Countries in DFID Asia Region. DFID UK. Jamal, H. (2009). Income Inequalities in Pakistan: Trends, Determinants and Impact. UNDP Pakistan. Jones, R.W. (2001). The Prospects for State Failure in Pakistan: Ethnic, Regional, and Sectarian Fissures. Lawrence Liverore National Laboratory, 1 May. Khan, H. (2001). Constitution and Political History of Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press. Leys, C. (1976). The 'Overdeveloped ' Post Colonial State: A Re-Evaluation. Review of African Political Economy, 5: 39-48. Mazzone, J. (2001). The Social Capital Argument for Federalism. Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, 11: 27-62.
The Endemic Crisis of Federalism in Pakistan
Newberg, P.R. (1995). Judging the State—Courts and Constitutional Politics in Pakistan. 1st Ed. Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. Rodden, J. (2005). Comparative Federalism and Decentralization: on Meaning and Measurement. Rev. Sociol. Polit, 24. Samaddara, R.B. (2004). The Politics of Dialogue: Living Under the Geopolitical Histories of War and Peace. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate. Singh, M.P. (2007). A Borderless Internal Federal Space? Reorganization of States in India. India Review, 6 (4): 233-250. Sinha, A. (2004). The Changing Political Economy of Federalism in India: A Historical Institutionalist Approach. India Review, 4th ser 3 (1): 25-63. Simeon, R. (2009). Constitutional Design and Change in Federal Systems: Issues and Questions. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 39 (2): 241-261. Transparency International, (2010). National Corruption Perception Survey 2010. Transparency International Pakistan. Wasim, A. (2010). Over 12,800 Militants Caught in 2009. Dawn.com. The Dawn Media Group, 11th January. Watts, R.L. (1998). Federalism, Federal Political Systems, and Federations. Annual Reviews Inc. 1 (37).
Please join StudyMode to read the full document