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Pakistan - Provincial Governments

Pakistan has four provinces - Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province [formerly known as North-West Frontier Province], Punjab, and Sindh - and numerous Federally Administered Areas. Provincial boundaries correspond with areas of numerically dominant linguistic groups, and provinces are divided into a total of 26 divisions that are further subdivided into 101 districts. Federally administered areas include the capital (Islamabad) and 13 Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs) as well as the western third of Jammu and Kashmir, although Kashmir's status is contested by India.

Each province has a governor appointed by the president, and provinces also have an elected legislative assembly and a chief minister who is the leader of the legislative assembly's majority party or coalition. The chief minister is assisted by a council of ministers chosen by the chief minister and formally approved by the governor. Federally administered areas also have their own legislative entities, which have had less autonomy from the federal government than provincial legislatures. However, tribal areas in the west have traditional legal systems that operate independently of the federal government. Various regimes have promoted local-level Basic Democracies so that communities can have input into federal policy, but these entities have suffered from inconsistent federal government support.

Although provinces and federally administered areas have their own political and administrative institutions, federal government agencies were heavily involved in the affairs of these areas. There were some matters over which both federal and provincial governments could make laws and establish departments for their execution. Moreover, the federal government has the power to dismiss provincial chief ministers and legislatures.

Pakistan's four provinces enjoy considerable autonomy. Each province has a governor, a Council of Ministers headed by a chief minister appointed by the governor, and a provincial assembly. Members of the provincial assemblies are elected by universal adult suffrage. Provincial assemblies also have reserved seats for minorities. Although there is a well-defined division of responsibilities between federal and provincial governments, there were some functions on which both can make laws and establish departments for their execution. Most of the services in areas such as health, education, agriculture, and roads, for example, are provided by the provincial governments. Although the federal government could also legislate in these areas, it only makes national policy and handles international aspects of those services.

The 18th Amendment had huge implications on the overall allocation of subjects between the Federation and the provinces, entailing a structural shift in the roles and responsibilities at the provincial level. The concurrent list (with 47 subjects) was abolished while the provinces have been given the additional responsibilities to handle the business of 17 federal ministries. Importantly, the provinces now have an exclusive role in policy-making in crucial sectors such as health, education, agriculture and environment to name a few.




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