Bring under discussion the core problems of Federalism in Pakistan.

problems of federalism in Pakistan

Federalism is a system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and regional or state governments. It allows for the sharing of power and resources, while also ensuring local autonomy and representation. In Pakistan, federalism has been a significant aspect of the constitutional framework since its inception. However, like any system, federalism in Pakistan faces several core problems that hinder its effective implementation and operation.

Definition of Federalism

Federalism, in the context of Pakistan, refers to the distribution of powers and responsibilities between the central government and the provincial governments. It aims to strike a balance between the need for a strong central authority and the recognition of regional diversity and autonomy.

History of Federalism in Pakistan

The idea of federalism in Pakistan can be traced back to the formation of the country itself. The 1940 Lahore Resolution called for “independent states” within British India, suggesting a federal structure for the future. The subsequent constitutional developments, such as the Government of India Act 1935 and the Objectives Resolution of 1949, also laid the foundation for a federal system in Pakistan.

Advantages of Federalism

Federalism brings several advantages to a country like Pakistan:

Power Sharing: Federalism allows power to be shared between the central government and provincial governments, ensuring a broader distribution of authority and decision-making.

Cultural Diversity: Pakistan is a diverse nation with various ethnic and linguistic groups. Federalism provides an opportunity to accommodate and respect cultural differences, allowing regions to govern themselves based on their unique needs and aspirations.

Local Autonomy: Federalism ensures that regions have a certain level of autonomy to address local issues and promote local development. This decentralization of power can lead to more effective governance and improved service delivery.

Core Problems of Federalism

Despite its potential advantages, federalism in Pakistan faces several core problems that need to be addressed:

Political Instability: Frequent changes in government and political instability at both the federal and provincial levels have hindered the smooth functioning of federalism. This instability often leads to policy inconsistencies, lack of continuity, and delays in decision-making.

Power Imbalance: There is a noticeable power imbalance between the federal government and the provincial governments in Pakistan. The central government often retains more power and resources, which can lead to feelings of marginalization and resentment among the provinces.

Ethnic Tensions: Pakistan has a diverse population, and ethnic tensions can arise within the federal structure. Grievances related to resource distribution, representation, and cultural rights can fuel ethnic conflicts and hinder the cooperative spirit required for federalism to thrive.

Economic Disparities: Economic disparities among provinces are a significant challenge for federalism in Pakistan. Some regions face higher poverty rates, lower development indicators, and inadequate access to resources. Addressing these disparities is crucial for maintaining harmony and stability within the federal structure.

Administrative Challenges: Effective implementation of federalism requires a robust administrative framework. However, administrative capacity at the provincial level remains a challenge in Pakistan. Insufficient human resources, weak institutions, and inadequate coordination often hamper the smooth functioning of federalism.

Proposed Solutions

To address the core problems of federalism in Pakistan, several solutions can be considered:

Strengthening Democratic Institutions: A strong and stable democratic system can provide a solid foundation for federalism. Strengthening democratic institutions, ensuring free and fair elections, and promoting political stability are essential for the effective functioning of federalism.

Fiscal Reforms: Ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of resources among provinces is crucial. Implementing fiscal reforms that address revenue sharing, budget allocations, and financial accountability can help reduce power imbalances and economic disparities.

Addressing Ethnic Issues: Recognizing and addressing ethnic issues is vital for maintaining harmony within the federal structure. Promoting interprovincial dialogue, fostering cultural tolerance, and implementing policies that address grievances can help alleviate ethnic tensions.

Capacity Building: Enhancing administrative capacity at the provincial level is crucial. Investing in training programs, improving governance structures, and promoting professionalism can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of federalism.


Federalism in Pakistan offers a framework that accommodates regional diversity, promotes power sharing, and allows for local autonomy. However, the core problems of political instability, power imbalance, ethnic tensions, economic disparities, and administrative challenges pose significant obstacles to its smooth functioning. By implementing the proposed solutions, Pakistan can overcome these challenges and strengthen its federal structure, leading to improved governance, stability, and equitable development.


Q1. Does federalism in Pakistan mean complete autonomy for provinces?

No, federalism in Pakistan does not imply complete autonomy for provinces. While provinces have certain powers and responsibilities, they still operate within the broader framework of the federal system. The central government retains certain powers related to defense, foreign affairs, and other key areas.

Q2. How can power imbalances be addressed in Pakistani federalism?

Power imbalances in Pakistani federalism can be addressed through fiscal reforms that ensure a fair distribution of resources among provinces. Implementing mechanisms for revenue sharing, budget allocations, and financial accountability can help reduce power imbalances and promote equity.

Q3. Can federalism help address ethnic tensions in Pakistan?

Federalism provides a platform to address ethnic tensions in Pakistan by recognizing and accommodating diverse cultural identities and aspirations. Through interprovincial dialogue, cultural tolerance, and policies that address grievances, federalism can help alleviate ethnic tensions and foster a cooperative spirit.

Q4. What role does political stability play in the functioning of federalism?

Political stability is crucial for the effective functioning of federalism. A stable democratic system, with consistent policies and continuity, ensures the smooth transfer of power between governments and promotes a cooperative environment necessary for federalism to thrive.

Q5. How can administrative challenges be overcome in Pakistani federalism?

Addressing administrative challenges in Pakistani federalism requires investing in capacity building at the provincial level. Training programs, improved governance structures, and promoting professionalism can enhance administrative efficiency and effectiveness in implementing federalism’s principles.

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