Pakistan parliament set to clip Zardari’s powers


Islamabad: A constitutional amendment bill to slash the Pakistani president’s powers will be tabled in parliament Friday.

Support TwoCircles

“For the first time since the constitution was framed in 1973, the office of the prime minister is being given unprecedented powers, which will make him the chief executive of the (country), though he will use these powers in the name of the president,” Online news agency reported.

Also restored to the Prime Minister’s Office will be the power to appoint the armed forces chiefs that had been taken away by then president Pervez Musharraf under the controversial 17th amendment and which is now being done away with.

The new bill, called the 18th amendment, has been recommended by the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms that took nine months to lay down the road map for restoring the 1973 constitution.

President Asif Ali Zardari has accepted the recommendations of the committee, which include stripping former military dictator Gen. Zia-ul Haq of his title of president of Pakistan and removing the current bar on a prime minister serving a third term.

Under the 18th amendment, the president will not be able to dissolve the assemblies in future and can do so only on the advice of the prime minister.

Then, the prime minister and the provincial chief ministers will be elected by their respective legislatures by a show of hands against the current provision of secret balloting.

Also, a caretaker chief minister will be selected by the provincial governor in consultation with the chief minister and the leader of opposition in the outgoing assembly.

Under the amendment, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) would be renamed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa.

Online quoted political experts as saying the 18th amendment would be a landmark in Pakistan’s parliamentary history.