On March 23, Pakistan Day was celebrated with the usual fanfare. From its provenance as Republic Day, this national event has turned into a hybrid celebration of post-1971 nationalism that equates military prowess with national power. This year’s celebrations took place amid an uncertain future of democracy and federalism; and therefore, it necessitates a sombre reflection.Far from being a battle cry, the Lahore resolution passed at the All India Muslim League’s (AIML) 27th session in 1940 was a carefully worded document with two issues at its heart (i) centre-provinces relations, and (ii) the minorities question. While it sought autonomy for western (present day Pakistan) and eastern frontiers of India so that Muslim majority territories would not have to suffer at the hands of the central government, the draft left room for interpretation on the exact contours of the centre, precisely because of the issue of Muslim minorities in the rest of India. The passage of the resolution was just another moment in a continuous political process that led all the way to the Indian partition in 1947. Investing the resolution with a mythical character isn’t just factually incorrect but it has also served over the years to divert attention of the Pakistani public from the two core issues.The minorities question remains unrecognised in Pakistan to this day. Safeguarding interests of the Muslim community, in Indian provinces where they were a minority in terms of numbers, through a constitutional arrangement had remained a constant theme in Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s politics. When it came to the rights of non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan, the political principle Jinnah held so close to his heart in his lifetime has been shunned by our state institutions. It took Pakistani political leadership six decades to finally take a small but significant step towards the other underlying impulse of the Lahore resolution, with the passage of the 18th amendment to the constitution.And yet, eight years down the lane, we still have to write these lines, impressing upon those who remain unimpressed the importance of the 18th amendment to a healthy federal framework. Instead of investing their energies in publicly seeking a review of the 18th amendment, the military high command will do well to convey its specific concerns to the Parliament and the government through established channels like the National Security Council. The military’s concerns are important given its specialised task of looking after national defence, but ultimately it is the prerogative of the elected representatives of Pakistani people to weigh those concerns against political, economic and social imperatives — all of which fall completely out of the military’s domain. There are ministries in the government and committees in the Parliament whose job is to work on these other imperatives in consultation with autonomous experts. So, if the economy is in doldrums, it is the task of economists and financial and development experts — in the Planning Commission, Finance Ministry, State Bank of Pakistan, and other such regulatory or executive agencies as well as in higher education and research institutions across the country — to study the problems and propose solutions. We cannot afford to rely upon the military high command for economic expertise just like we cannot afford to rely upon the SBP governor for overseeing military operations against terrorist outfits. Similarly, those who worked on and saw the 18th amendment through had years of experience in parliamentary politics and knowledge of comparative political systems across the globe enabling them to perform the task. Their efforts yielded in a more viable framework for linking Islamabad to the four provincial capitals. We need to build on these gains instead of rolling them back. The provinces need to be enabled, in terms of finances and human resources, to effectively take up governance of domains that have been devolved onto them. Similarly, the centre needs to give up one-sided control of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and tribal areas, extending the country’s constitution to these regions. A federation that comes into being after these changes have been implemented will be a true reflection of the federal framework implied at in the Lahore resolution. *Published in Daily Times, March 26th 2018.