Home Muslim World News Bill to slash Pakistan president’s powers tabled in parliament

Bill to slash Pakistan president’s powers tabled in parliament


Islamabad : A bill was introduced in the Pakistan parliament Friday to transfer the president’s sweeping powers to the prime minister and effectively reduce him to a titular head of state.

“Today is a historic day. Today we have gathered here to mend the follies of the past,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said prior to the 18th constitutional bill being introduced in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.

Under the amendment, the president will be bound to act on the advice of the prime minister, who will get back, among others, the power to appoint the armed forces chiefs and the chief election commissioner.

These powers had been taken away by then president Pervez Musharraf by the 17th amendment that he rammed through parliament in 2002.

“I appreciate the (efforts of the constitution reforms) committee and the political parties to redress the acts of a dictator who had trampled the constitution,” Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Gilani as saying.

“I also congratulate (committee chairman Senator) Raza Rabbani and his colleagues who burnt the midnight oil to mend the mistakes of the past in a legal and constitutional effort,” Gilani added.

“Today I feel honoured that all the stakeholders are on the same stage, be it the president, the prime minister, the government, the parliament or the opposition,” he maintained.

President Asif Ali Zardari has accepted the recommendations of the reforms 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.

According to Gilani, the recommendations of the committee will empower the provinces, leading to good governance and political ownership.

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.