[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Pakistani MPs curb Zardari's powers
Lower house of parliament approves reforms leaving presidency largely ceremonial.
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2010 16:17 GMT
Analysts say Zardari will keep a grip on the Pakistan People's Party despite losing his powers [AFP]
 

Pakistan's National Assembly has unanimously passed a set of constitutional reforms curbing the powers of Asif Ali Zardari, the president, and transferring them to the prime minister and parliament.

Zardari backed the amendments on Thursday, which still need the approval of the Senate.

The final vote total was 292-0.

Yusuf Raza Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister, said the move had made the parliament sovereign.

"You have made parliament supreme today. We did politics of reconciliation," Gilani told the chamber amid applause. "Today the entire nation is united."

The amendments, crafted by parliamentarians from both ruling and opposition groups, will turn Zardari into a ceremonial head of state.

But analysts say he still will maintain his hold on the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and keep Gilani's loyalty.

Powers lost

Two of the biggest privileges of past presidents - soon to be lost by Zardari - were the power to dissolve the National Assembly and appoint the heads of the armed forces and judges.

Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, the former president, introduced these powers in the 1980s to maintain control of the government.

In the 1990s, the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies were dissolved three times, ousting the governments of former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

A leader in the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N - the party of Zardari's chief rival, Nawaz Sharif - urged the government to focus on resolving chronic problems, including inflation, power shortages and unemployment.

"The prime minister's responsibilities have increased," Nisar Ali Khan said.

"Now he has no excuse; this government has no excuse but to resolve people's problems.

"Today, we all have got to give a commitment that no politician, no Pakistani will support a military dictator," he said.

The military has ruled Pakistan for about half of its 63 years of independence.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.