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Zardari’s powers to be clipped

world Updated: Apr 02, 2010 01:17 IST
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A parliamentary committee agreed on a constitutional amendment that strips the Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari of powers inherited from the country’s former military ruler.

A draft of the historic 18th Amendment will be presented to parliament on Friday and is expected to be passed unanimously, politicians have said.

For the first time in Pakistan’s political history, a president has volunteered to give his powers to sack an elected government and dissolve a parliament. When the bill is passed into law, about 100 clauses of the Pakistan constitution will be amended, making the document more in line with the 1973 constitution.

“By consensus we are taking away all those controversial clauses that were inserted by successive military dictators,” said Senator Raza Rabbani, the man credited with steering the parliamentary committee which hammed through the consensus draft.

The proposed amendment draft of the non-partisan Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional reforms has already been dubbed as the best constitutional thing to happen since the 1973 consensus Constitution, incidentally also given with a Pakistan People’s Party government in the saddle.

All the committee members had reached an agreement on 93 proposed amendments. But a deadlock had persisted between the PML-N and the ANP over the issues of renaming of NWFP and between the PML-N and the PPP over the thorny matter of a few remaining niggles in the process of appointing judges to the superior judiciary.

Under immense public and media pressure, these issues were resolved on Wednesday. The NWFP is now Khyber-Pakhtunkwa, and PML-N has its wish of the chief justice appointing a retired Supreme Court judge as the seventh member of the judicial commission, the tipping vote by its estimation.