Legislation to Cut Zardari’s Powers Introduced in Pak Parliament

The Pakistani government has tabled in parliament a constitutional bill which transfers President Asif Ali Zardari’s sweeping powers to the prime minister, reported Reuters.

The legislation is expected to put to an end months of political fighting.

The ‘18th Amendment Bill’ is likely to be passed by both houses of the parliament and thus turning Zardari merely into a titular head of state, report said.

Though it could calm political opposition to Zardari, Supreme Court’s pressure is mounting on the government to reopen corruption cases against the president, which were thrown out by a controversial amnesty law in December.

“I suspect that after the signing of the 18th amendment, it (the unstable political environment) is going to change,” Samina Ahmed, South Asia director for the International Crisis Group, was quoted as saying.

“Part of the problem is structural. Nobody knows where the locus of authority lies,” he was quoted as saying.

She said that due to that uncertainty, all branches of government were attempting to expand their powers at the expense of the others, report said.

“There’s a little bit of muscle flexing all around,” she was quoted as saying.

The proposed constitutional amendments transfer a number of the president’s powers, including the authority to dissolve the national assembly and appoint military chiefs and the chief election commissioner.

Also, this shifts Zardari’s powers to appoint judges to a commission comprising of senior judges and government figures.

The bill is likely to be passed by far more than the two-thirds super-majority needed in the parliament because it has been drafted by a parliamentary committee made up of all political groups.

No date has been fixed when it will be adopted.

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