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Association of Administrative Federalism AOAF Calls Proposed IRSA Act Amendments Unconstitutional

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The Association of Administrative Federalism is a registered society of Provincial Civil Servants that believes in the Supremacy of the Constitution and advocates the implementation of the Constitution and the rule of law in letter and spirit to ensure better public service delivery.

The Indus River System Authority (IRSA) is established under the Indus River System Authority Act, 1992 (IRSA Act 1992) to regulate and monitor the distribution of water sources of the Indus River in accordance with the Water Apportionment Accord of 1991 (the Accord) amongst the Provinces. The IRSA has been performing effectively since 1992 without any major reservations from the federating units mainly because of its compositions, rotation of chairmanship from amongst the members, and method of their appointment through respective cabinets, which ensured the “say” of the federating units in a democratic manner.

Distribution of water amongst the federating units in accordance with the Accord is one of the most sensitive issues that should be handled carefully in light of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 (the Constitution) and the principles of federalism. Any act on the part of the federal government compromising the independent nature of the IRSA, its working mechanism, and its composition will prove detrimental to the federation as it will not only affect the autonomy of the provinces but will also affect the agriculture and its affiliated sectors of the provinces.

The proposed amendments to the IRSA Act 1992 (the amendments 2024) are unconstitutional and illegal as these amendments have been tabled before the caretaker federal cabinet without routing through the Council of Common Interest (CCI), which is the highest constitutional body established under the Constitution, for dealing with such sensitive matters.

The amendments 2024 are also against the very principle of the federation, which requires the federal government to obtain the consent of the federating units before taking any action affecting their rights or depriving the federating units of effectively protecting their rights in such a sensitive matter. Consent of the Provincial governments through their members in the IRSA and the Council of Common Interest should have been sought/approved by CCI before proposing the amendments in 2024.

The Association of Administrative Federalism shares the concerns of the federating units communicated by the Provinces of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and reiterates the same from this forum that the amendments 2024, being unconstitutional, will have serious consequences for federation and provincial autonomy if implemented.

The Association appeals to the federal government to withdraw the amendments 2024 immediately, or else the AOAF will stand with provinces for the protection of provincial autonomy and upholding the Constitution. The AOAF also requests the provincial governments of the federating units to resist this unconstitutional move, protect their constitutionally guaranteed provincial autonomy in the largest interest of the federation, and uphold the spirit of the Constitution.

Noman Wazir
Association of Administrative Federalism, Pakistan

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