7 new ministries’ have no legal standing: Rabbani

Senator Mian Raza Rabbani

ISLAMABAD: Senator Mian Raza Rabbani said on Monday that seven new ministries evolved in the aftermath of devolution act of 18th Amendment have/had no legal reason to be formed.

During a meeting of Special Committee on Devolution Process, he clarified that ‘varying policies, interests’ in various departments tried to create hurdles during implementation of 18th Amendment.“During ‘the process’, many departments of devolved ministries were retained by the federal government, and ‘new ministries were formed’ on their (retained departments) structure,” he deliberated, adding, “Such creations were totally illegal and unnecessary, in contravention [of spirit] of the 18th Amendment.”

He cited the illegal change of the original title of Professional Training and Research to ‘form a new’ Education and Training’; while many projects equally important for provinces, like DRA and others were retained by the federal government.Rabbani also rejected the reservations of the Economic Affairs Division secretary regarding devolution process, since the secretary had been participating in all meetings regarding the devolution process and fully seconding all recommendations.

The senator dispelled the impression that he was under the pressure of President Asif Zardari or then PM Yousaf Raza Gilani over the devolution process, adding that both had given him a free hand.Earlier, the committee, convened by leader of the House Jehangir Badr, was briefed about phase-wise process of devolution, by the secretary of the Inter-Provincial Coordination Ministry. The secretary said that two committees formed by Law Minister Maula Bukhsh Chandio, had decided ‘after intense deliberations’ that departments such as the PTDC, the HEC, the NCHR, and the PDDC should be retained by the federal government.

The reason for the retaining of these departments was declared that since these departments had signed several accords and memoranda of understanding at international level, these fell under the jurisdiction of the federal government.It was also cited that these committees also helped provinces manage devolved components, while provinces had also rejected the departments retained by the federal government in the first place.Senator Kulsoom Parveen expressed her deep reservations over the fact that smaller provinces, such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, had objected to any conducive results emanating from the devolution process.

Senator Zahid Hussain objected to massive allocations for ministries devolved to provinces, which according to him was an unnecessary practice.“This also gives the impression that the federal government is vying to recall the devolved ministries,” he added.Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Raja Zafarul Haq raised the point of ameliorating the problems being faced by provinces in handling the devolved ministries, and urged that assistance should be provided to the provincial governments.This recommendation was fully endorsed by the committee, which directed the Inter-provincial Coordination Ministry to provide all relevant documentation to the committee.Provincial Coordination Minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani lauded the process of devolution and assured the committee that his ministry would move the process forward.