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Last Updated: 06/05/2013The Failure of Secular Parties in Pakistan
The Pakistan People Party (PPP) and the Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) both sustained significant losses in last month's general elections. These results can be at least partly explained by the former coalition government's hasty devolution of federal powers to unprepared provincial authorities, as well as their hesitance to fully engage with civil society groups. Both parties should now focus on tranparent, democratic party reforms, and the clarification of a coherent secular policy agenda so as to become politically revelant again through the 2018 elections.
The former coalition government (2008-2013) of the Pakistan People Party (PPP) and the Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) along with the former opposition of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Sharif deserve appreciation for giving the government and assemblies the opportunity to complete its five year term. The governance was not easy though because of the roller-coaster relationship among the government, opposition, the powerful Army and the newly freed judiciary. The government and the opposition had assigned greater decision-making authority to the provincial governments. The Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment has devolved a number of key functions to the provinces. In total, functions in seventeen federal ministries have been devolved, including Agriculture, Education, Environment, and Health. In addition, a greater share of revenues has been passed to the provinces through the National Finance Commission Award in order to enable them to perform these functions.
Jahan Zeb is peace scholar with the University of Waterloo, Canada and can be reached at email@example.com