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Pak landmark amendment bill to get presidential seal today

world Updated: Apr 19, 2010 12:30 IST

PTI
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Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is set to sign into law a landmark constitutional amendment bill that will strip him of his sweeping powers and remove changes made to the constitution by former military dictators.

The Senate and National Assembly, the two houses of parliament, have already passed the 18th constitutional amendment bill by two-thirds majority and its 102 clauses will become part of the constitution after Zardari signs it.

"The signing ceremony of the 18th constitutional amendment bill will be held in the presidency on Monday," presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

Zardari telephoned opposition PML-N leader and former premier Nawaz Sharif, with whom he has had strained relations, and invited him to attend the signing ceremony. Sharif accepted the invitation and will attend the ceremony, Babar said.

The PML-N and Zardari's Pakistan People's Party formed a coalition government after the 2008 general election but the two parties ended their alliance after Sharif accused Zardari of reneging on several promises.

The amendments will take away the President's powers to appoint the three service chiefs, dissolve the parliament and dismiss an elected premier.

The amendments also repeal changes made to the constitution by former military rulers Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf to strengthen their grip on power.

Another amendment changes the name of the North West Frontier Province to Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

Changes made to the constitution by Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf conferred vast powers on the President, including the power to appoint the service chiefs and the heads of the Election Commission and Public Service Commission.

The President also had the power to dismiss all or any of the central or provincial governments and the parliament and legislatures.

Presidential spokesman Babar said arrangements were being finalised for a signing ceremony befitting the historical occasion of reforming the constitution and ridding it of all undemocratic clauses inserted into it by successive dictatorships.

The amendments declared as illegal all measures taken by Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1999 after dismissing the elected government of then premier Nawaz Sharif.