Federalism training sessions held in Islamabad

Pakistani workshop participants pose for photo during intensive federalism training sessions.

The Centre for Civic Education Pakistan and the Forum of Federations recently held a training-of-trainers course on federalism that was delivered over a four-day period in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

The event helped form a cadre of trainers who will be conducting trainings on federalism in various parts of the country including the federal and provincial capitals.

These trainings are part of the public education program on federalism launched by the Forum and the civic education centre. The program will raise the level of debate on federalism in Pakistan among national and provincial decision-makers, youths, students, politicians, civil society activists, civil servants and journalists.

The study of federalism has become an important issue for Pakistan, which became a federal country in 1956, but which saw the powers of its parliament and its provinces eroded under former president Pervez Musharraf.

Those powers however were mostly restored with the recent enactment of the 18th Amendment to the country’s constitution, along with a decision by the county’s National Finance Commission to allocate increased funding to the country’s provinces, a move which took powers away from the executive level of Pakistan’s government.

The 18th Amendment thus realigned the Pakistani federation giving important additional powers to Pakistan’s Parliament and to the country’s provinces, and withdrawing them from the executive.

At the Forum federalism event, the trainers explained the concepts and importance of federalism and gave an in-depth analysis of the evolution of federalism in Pakistan starting with British colonial rule in the subcontinent, showing how people of that era laid the foundations for present-day federalism in Pakistan.

The sessions were interactive and trainees had ample opportunity to discuss federal concepts and examples in different areas of federal governance. There were also comparisons and examples from other federations, discussions on the theory of comparative federalism and practice on why certain federations were able to flourish.

The training was based on a module developed from the book Federalism: an Introduction, written by Forum president George Anderson.

The training offered an introduction to the concept of federalism that could be used with trainees and any other audience.

The training was conducted by Dr Jaffar Ahmed, director of the Pakistan Study Centre, Karachi University; Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais, professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences; Jami Chandio, executive director, Centre for Peace and Civil Society, Hyderabad; Amjad Farooq Bhatti, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Islamabad; and Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director Centre of Civic Education Pakistan.

Nineteen participants were trained, including university teachers, students, civil society members, teachers from the Higher Education Commission, the Provincial Teacher Training Institute and various media. These newly trained individuals will in turn be responsible for conducting events in their own cities with university students, with media and with a wider audience such as civil society groups.

Nine modules were presented during the four-day training, including a session on tips for effective training, and a module on how to plan and execute an effective public education campaign.
The training included a session in which the trainees demonstrated what they had learned and another session in which they gave feedback on skills they acquired.

"I have received a very firm understanding why federalism is so very important to Pakistan,” one trainee reported.

The training, held from Nov. 25-28, 2010, is a part of the ongoing activities by the Forum of Federations and Centre for Civic Education Pakistan in a project designed to strengthen the dialogue on federalism dialogue Pakistan. The program, funded by the German Foreign Office, will run until the end of 2010.

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