With the Senate vote in, the 18th Amendment — seeking to strip the presidency of its powers and restore them to Parliament as envisaged in the 1973 Constitution — cleared Parliament on Thursday and now awaits the signature of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Though the differences over renaming the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa had raised apprehensions about the passage of the 18th Amendment in the Senate, it was smooth sailing for the Bill when it was put to vote. All 90 members present in the House voted for the motion.
Earlier, members of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and (Quaid-e-Azam) had proposed amendments to the clause relating to rechristening the NWFP, particularly given the apprehensions voiced by the non-Pashtos of Hazara. The debate had spilled onto the streets with protests taking a violent turn earlier this week in Abbottabad in the Hazara region, killing seven persons and leaving over 50 people injured.
Soon after the passage of the Bill — which also provides for greater provincial autonomy besides transparency in appointments — Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said: “It is time to deliver. Let us ensure that the dividends of the 18th Amendment reach the masses.”
Describing the passage of the Bill as a victory for democracy, the Prime Minister said Parliament would no longer be a “rubber stamp.” “Now we need to ensure optimum distribution of resources and the provinces will have to do more.”