[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
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list