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Key points of Pakistani constitutional reform

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was to sign into law sweeping constitutional reforms today in a move to bolster parliamentary democracy weakened by previous military rulers.

world Updated: Apr 20, 2010 11:52 IST

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was to sign into law sweeping constitutional reforms on Monday in a move to bolster parliamentary democracy weakened by previous military rulers.

Here are the key points of the historic 102-clause bill known as the 18th amendment to the 1973 constitution:

The president will effectively become titular head of state who can only formally appoint heads of the armed forces, dissolve the national assembly and appoint provincial governors on the advice of the prime minister.
The president will lose his power to dismiss the prime minister.
Courts will no longer be able to endorse suspensions of the constitution, a judicial commission will appoint judges and the president will no longer be able to appoint the head of the election commission.
The bill abolishes a clause which bars the election of a prime minister for more than two terms. This would allow popular opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who was toppled by Pervez Musharraf in 1999, to become premier again.
The president can only impose emergency rule after the concerned provincial assembly passes a resolution to this effect, or the president must present the emergency rule proclamation before parliament for approval.
The power of the president to refer a matter to a referendum is withdrawn. Military dictators have in the past been accused of using such referendums to get themselves elected to the top office.
The North West Frontier Province, a name dating back to British rule, will be renamed Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa to honour the wishes of its Pashtun majority. The bill also grants greater autonomy to smaller provinces.
The amendments raise the number of seats in the Senate from 100 to 104 and these additional seats would be given to non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan.