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The 18th Constitutional Amendment: Glue or Solvent for Nation Building and Citizenship in Pakistan?


  • Anwar Shah

    () (Director, Center for Public Economics, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu/Wenjiang, China, and Advisor to the Asian Development Bank and World Bank.)


The almost unanimous passage of a landmark consensus constitutional amendment—the 18th Constitutional Amendment—restored Pakistan’s constitution to its original intent of a decentralized federation of provinces as envisaged in the 1956 (two provinces) and 1973 (four provinces) constitutions. This article takes a closer look at the provisions of this amendment and highlights both the potentials and pitfalls of the new constitutional order for good governance in Pakistan. It argues that the amendment represents a step forward but encompasses several missteps in creating a harmonious political and economic union. The 18th Amendment has reinforced an outmoded “pot-belly” model (federalism of provinces) whereas an “hourglass” (federalism of local governments) model is more suited to Pakistan‘s circumstances. Major fundamental reforms are needed that right-size the federal and provincial governments, strengthen local governance, enforce fiscal discipline and citizen-based accountability for service delivery performance on all orders of government, dismantle provincial barriers to factor mobility and internal trade, and restrain beggar-thy-neighbor policies and unaccountable governance by “empowered provinces” to mitigate the unintended adverse consequences of the 18th amendment for nation building and citizenship in Pakistan.

Suggested Citation

  • Anwar Shah, 2012. "The 18th Constitutional Amendment: Glue or Solvent for Nation Building and Citizenship in Pakistan?," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 17(Special E), pages 387-424, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:lje:journl:v:17:y:2012:i:sp:p:387-424

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maksym Ivanyna & Anwar Shah, 2011. "Citizen-centric Governance Indicators: Measuring and Monitoring Governance by Listening to the People," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(1), pages 59-71, March.
    2. Anwar Shah, 2006. "Local Governance in Industrial Countries," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7108, January.
    3. Rao, Govinda & Shah, Anwar, 2009. "States' Fiscal Management and Regional Equity: An Overview," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195698794.
    4. Anwar Shah, 2006. "Local Governance in Developing Countries," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7192, January.
    5. Maksym Ivanyna & Anwar Shah, 2011. "Decentralization and corruption: new cross-country evidence," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 29(2), pages 344-362, April.
    6. Shankar, Raja & Shah, Anwar, 2003. "Bridging the Economic Divide Within Countries: A Scorecard on the Performance of Regional Policies in Reducing Regional Income Disparities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 1421-1441, August.
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    More about this item


    Governance; fiscal federalism; decentralization; state and local governance; nation and province-building; constitutional division of powers; intergovernmental fiscal relations.;

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General


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