Anita Joshua

ISLAMABAD:The National Assembly on Thursday passed the 18th Amendment Bill that seeks to bring back the 1973 Constitution by removing the distortions that had shorn it of its democratic components over the past 37 years.

The Bill — which proposes 102 amendments to the Constitution — was passed by a two-thirds majority after the House rejected the amendments moved by some members on the abolition of the concurrent list, renaming the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and removal of the provision for intra-party elections.

Since the Bill had been drafted by the all-party Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms, its smooth passage was pre-determined, more so because of the across-the-political-spectrum consensus for repealing the 17th Amendment by which former President Pervez Musharraf had usurped all powers of Parliament.

Still, the marathon discussion in the lower house of Parliament had its fair share of animated arguments, with members from Hazara in NWFP protesting its rechristening and demanding, in turn, a province for themselves to retain their non-Pashto identity. Soon after the 18th Amendment cleared the National Assembly, President Asif Ali Zardari joined Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in congratulating the nation on crossing this milestone on the country's return journey to democracy.