18th Amendment and Federalism: A talk by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, moderated by Saroop Ijaz

On Friday the 6th March 2020, the LUMS Law & Politics Society hosted a talk by the Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on a significant topic of ‘18th amendment and the concept of Federalism’. It was moderated by Mr. Saroop Ijaz, a prominent legal practitioner and LUMS alumnus.

Mr. Bilawal was warmly received by a packed  Asifa-Irfan Moot Court Room where students, faculty and staff members and the Law School’s Acting Dean, Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali were present. To initiate the event, a speech was delivered by Mr. Sikander Shah, laying out the basis for the talk, introducing the organizing society and introducing the speaker as well as the moderator. He also thanked the members of the society for all their efforts in arranging this talk.

Mr. Saroop then took over and began by asking Mr. Bilawal to elaborate upon certain factors of the 18th Amendment. Mr. Bilawal placed emphasis on the fact that the parliament must not be kept subject to the whims of the president and also mentioned how the 18th amendment was an attempt to move away from this system. In reference to this, Mr. Bilawal mentioned that, “regardless of how you feel about the Peoples Party or Benazir Bhutto, it is a shameful situation for an elected body to be dismissed as it was.”

Mr. Bilawal also spoke about the Local Government system, commenting on how Sindh is the only province fulfilling this constitutional responsibility and that it was the PPP who introduced this requirement into the Pakistani Constitution, following the 18th amendment. He also added that the solution to Karachi’s problems was not that simple and that the government was still struggling for it.

Following this, the moderator Mr. Saroop requested the audience to pass along their questions in form of written notes, of which a few were answered by Mr. Bilawal. Responding to one of the questions on student unions, Mr. Bilawal stated that student unions deserved to be recognized as an integral part of a democratic society and negated the idea that unions were responsible for arming students.

In reply to another question on the apparently biased role of the NAB, he added that political parties and accountability institutions were both necessary for a functioning democracy. However, he added that this idea of “political victimization” was very apparent and was adding to the disgruntlement of the populace.

At the end of the talk, Dr. Kamran thanked Mr. Bilawal for his candid views and for taking out time from his busy schedule to deliver an insightful talk for the LUMS Community. Following this, a decorative shield baring the LUMS logo, along with a bouquet was presented to the guest by the Society’s Executive Council. Mr. Bilawal also thanked the society for inviting him and giving him this “unique opportunity to interact with the students of LUMS”.