News / Asia

Pakistan's President Signs Constitutional Amendment, Relinquishes Some Powers

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, left, signs a constitutional reforms law as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani  looks on during a ceremony in Islamabad, 19 Apr 2010
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, left, signs a constitutional reforms law as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani looks on during a ceremony in Islamabad, 19 Apr 2010

Multimedia

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has signed into law a constitutional amendment that strips him of powers originally given to the presidency by the country's former military dictator two decades ago.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardai signed the 18th amendment in the presidential palace, during a ceremony that ranged from a solemn affair of gathered dignitaries to a raucous political rally.

Gathered in attendance were select members of Pakistani civil society, government officials, and the heads of the country's political parties, including opposition leader and outspoken rival of President Zardari, Nawaz Sharif.

Mr. Zardari's signature was the last step in formalizing the constitutional reforms, which both houses of the Pakistani Parliament passed unanimously earlier this month. After signing the bill, President Zardari referred back to 1973 when Pakistan's constitution was first created.

"It is my hope that the nation will once again be driven by a sense of purpose just as it was when the constitution was adopted," he said. "It is my hope that the doors of dictatorship have been closed forever."

In the 1980s, military ruler Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq assumed several powers to maintain control of the government, including the powers to dissolve parliament and appoint judges and the heads of the country's armed forces. These powers now go to the parliament and the office of the prime minister.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said with this reaffirmation of the country's democracy, the government now must continue its efforts in earnest to solve the problems affecting Pakistanis.

"The government is already making every effort to overcome an energy shortage, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, inadequate health facilities, rural and the regional backwardness," he said.

But critics remain skeptical about the constitutional changes, saying political party heads, which include the current president, gain power. Opposition Senator and noted constitutional expert S.M. Zafar tells VOA party heads can now force their lawmakers to keep the party's line in several matters, including during a vote of no confidence for a prime minister.

"The direction of the political party has to be obeyed," he said. "And if not obeyed, then the matter can be referred to the election commission, who can disqualify the person concerned after a hearing."

There also has been much controversy regarding a clause of the amendment that renames the North West Frontier Province to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The new name reflects the Pashtun ethnic majority of the province, which predominately speaks Pashto. The province's Hindko-speaking population has been demonstrating against the name change in protests that at times have turned violent during the past few weeks. The protesters say they want the province's name to remain unchanged or they will demand a separate province that will reflect their majority in the south.

Prominent lawyers' groups also have rejected a provision in the amendment that empowers a parliamentary commission to approve or reject judges' nominations by the Supreme Court chief justice. Representatives for the groups say they will challenge the provision to get it reversed.

Related Report by VOA's Ravi Khanna

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid