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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

7 - Federalism in Pakistan

from II - Presidential Federal Systems


Federalism is a political device to maintain unity and diversity. According to Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions, federalism is:

‘A form of territorial organization in which unity and regional diversity are accommodated with a single political system by distributing power among general and regional governments in a manner constitutionally safeguarding the existence and authority of each.’

In its broadest sense, federalism is a kind of political mechanism involving at least two orders of government in the same political space with ‘shared’ as well as ‘self’ rule in constitutionally divided jurisdictions such as that each is meaningfully autonomous from the other in their exclusive areas and functionally interdependent and cooperative in their concurrent areas. A survey of the federalist thought and theory suggests that:

‘Federalism gives a self-governing political community the best of both worlds: the advantages of being a relatively small, homogeneous polity, along with the advantages of being a part of a stronger, more secure larger state or alliance; while at the same time avoiding some of the worst disadvantages of being either too small or too large.’

Thus federal state may well be an answer to the problem of the nation-state in the age of globalization when the state is said to have become too small for global problems and too big for local ones. Beyond the nation-state as well confederal supra-national regional integration is also making some headway.