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Constitutional reforms package to be tabled in Pak Parliament

A significant legislation to transfer sweeping powers to appoint three service chiefs from president to the prime minister will be tabled this week in Pakistan's Parliament as part of a major constitutional reforms package.

world Updated: Mar 22, 2010 14:43 IST

A significant legislation to transfer sweeping powers to appoint three service chiefs from president to the prime minister will be tabled this week in Pakistan's Parliament as part of a major constitutional reforms package.

The package which includes returning the powers to dissolve the national assembly or lower house to the prime
minister has been finalised by a panel of Parliamentarians headed by senior Pakistan People's Party leader Raza Rabbani.

The bill also seeks to remove constitutional bars preventing a person from becoming a lawmaker if that person is
found to have commented against the judiciary or the army.

The package also includes a proposed amendment envisaging the trial of judges who validate any future
military coup on charges of high treason.

The proposed introduction of the much talked of reform bill comes amidst media reports of moves afoot in Pakistan to
isolate President Asif Ali Zardari, with Prime Minister Yosuf Raza Gilani, the powerful army and opposition PML-N putting up a united front against him.

Recently, Pakistan army has announced extension in service of the powerful chief of ISI Lt Gen Shuja Pasha and
moves to extend the term of army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The package makes it mandatory for the President to give his assent to any bill within 10 days as against the
existing timeframe of 30 days, failing which the assent shall be deemed to have been given.

The parliamentary committee that finalised the reforms package decided that the constitution should be
brought back to its position as on October 12, 1999, when former military ruler Pervez Musharraf seized power by
deposing then premier Nawaz Sharif.

Prior to the coup, the prime minister had the powers to appoint the service chiefs by virtue of constitutional
changes made by parliament in 1997.

Musharraf retained powers to appoint service chiefs and to dismiss the National Assembly under the controversial
Article 58 2(b) of the constitution.

President Zardari is expected to address a joint sitting of both houses of parliament once the constitutional
reforms package is tabled in the House, The News daily reported on Monday.

A core group of the PPP's leaders held a meeting on March 15 to discuss the President's speech and the proposed
reforms, it quoted its sources as saying.