Zardari asks Parliament to pass bill that seeks to clip powers
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari today asked lawmakers to adopt the landmark constitutional reforms package that is aimed at stripping his sweeping powers, saying it would remove the distortions made to the 1973 constitution by successive military regimes.world Updated: Apr 05, 2010 21:49 IST
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari today asked lawmakers to adopt the landmark constitutional reforms package that is aimed at stripping his sweeping powers, saying it would remove the distortions made to the 1973 constitution by successive military regimes.
Addressing a joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament a day before it starts a debate on the 18th Constitutional Amendment Bill, Zardari said by tabling the reforms package in parliament, the government had "honoured our pledge to restore the supremacy of the parliament."
The package, known as the 18th Constitutional Amendment Bill, contains a slew of reforms that will, among other things, repeal the President's power to appoint the three service chiefs and dissolve parliament.
All these power would be vested with the Prime Minister according to 1973 Constitution of Pakistan.
Zardari said the country's constitution was "distorted" twice in 1977 by the then Army Chief Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and in 1999 by Gen Musharraf.
"Without learning from history, the Constitution was subverted again in 1999. This legalisation will remove those distortions," Zardari said.
"The Pakistan People's Party and its allies had promised the nation that distortions to the 1973 constitution would be removed and the powers of the parliament would be restored," he said.
Zardari also noted in his address that he had handed over control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal to the Prime Minister last year though he was not "asked or required" to do so.
The President made repeated references in his address to his slain wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, and her late father, PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and often quoted them.
He described his speech as a "Benazir day and moment" as it was enshrined in her philosophy.
Zardari referred to the historical achievements of the PPP, including the Simla Accord with India in 1972, which "brought the longest peace" between the two countries.
He also mentioned several welfare measures and development programmes initiated since the PPP-led government came to power in the 2008 general election.