News / Asia

Pakistani National Assembly Votes to Limit Presidential Powers

TEXT SIZE - +

Pakistani parliament's lawmaking lower house has unanimously approved an amendment in the country's constitution, curbing crucial powers of the president.

The vote on what is being described as the "historic change" in the constitution was shown live on Pakistan's state-run television.  

Of the 342 members in the National Assembly, 292 voted in favor of the legislation, known as the 18th constitutional amendment.

The female speaker of the Pakistani parliament's lower house, Fahmida Mirza, announced the result. "Consequently, the bill is passed by the [National] Assembly by not less than two thirds of the total membership of the Assembly.  So it is passed unanimously," he said.

The legislation will turn President Asif Ali Zardari into a ceremonial head of the state by transferring key powers to the office of the prime minister and the parliament.  The powers include the president's ability to dismiss an elected government, dissolve the parliament and appoint heads of the armed forces.

Pakistan's former military dictator Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, had introduced the powers in the 1980s to maintain control of elected government after declaring himself president of the country.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani while addressing the National Assembly after the vote said that changes military rulers had introduced disfigured the country's constitution.  He says the passage of the bill has now removed those "anomalies" and has empowered the people of Pakistan.

Mr. Gilani said that by approving the legislation lawmakers have made possible what was being considered impossible and have established the sovereignty the parliament.

The constitutional amendment bill, which has cross-party support, must now be approved by a two-thirds majority in the Senate, or upper house and be signed by President Zardari to take effect.   Both are expected to approve the legislation.

While the president has fully backed the bill, it was unanimously drafted by a committee consisting of parliamentarians from both the ruling and opposition parties.

Many in Pakistan believe the 18th constitutional amendment will lead to political stability in the country, a close U.S ally, and will allow the government to pay more attention to deal with the Taliban-led insurgency."

But critics say that being the head of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in addition to his role as the president of country, Mr. Zardari will still wield significant influence over the government.

Ahsan Iqbal is a member of the parliament and represents a major opposition political party (Pakistan Muslim League-N). "The practice in Pakistan after 1973 [when the existing constitution was passed] was that the president also resigned his party membership so that he could truly be representative of the federation and he could be a symbol of national unity.  But Mr. Zardari has opted to continue with his party's office and if that practice continues and how much indulgence will he have in the policy making of the government, that has the chance of making his office [of the president] controversial," he said.

The legislation would also change the name of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to Khyber Pukhtoonkhaw.  The province borders Afghanistan and parts of the province were until recently known as safe haven for Taliban insurgents.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid