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BBI report is otiose, offers nothing new

The conventional path to constitutional reform is a bottom-up approach, where the public express disenchantment with the order and direct efforts towards a public discourse to change it. But the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is top-down, where a political establishment with a predetermined outcome seeks to direct a conversation with the public with the aim of directing a discourse for constitutional reforms.

It shows a chronic failure to comprehensively address the issues it raises and give effect to the Constitution. The Constitution’s shortcomings, as captured in BBI, can be attributed to Executive control over Parliament; 80 per cent of the recommendations can be implemented by an effective Parliament. The remainder, constituting the change in governance, would not be required with Parliament’s oversight.

The BBI can be passed by a parliamentary initiative under Article 256 of the Constitution. The proposed position of Premier and the envisaged parliamentary approval of the nominee alters the function of Parliament (Art. 255 (1)(h), hence the need for a referendum.

The BBI is an attempt at circumventing the Constitution by creating a political elite fiat on reforms to achieve a pre-determined political outcome. We need a genuine call for constitutional reforms; for that, the BBI must fall.