IntroductionPakistan's independence was won through a democratic and constitutional struggle. Although the country's record with parliamentary democracy has been mixed, Pakistan, after lapses, has returned to this form of government. The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan adopted in 1985 provides for a federal parliamentary system with a president as head of state and a popularly elected prime minister as head of government.
A Democratic GovernmentThe dismemberment of Pakistan discredited both the civil bureaucracy and the army, General Yahya Khan was left no choice but to hand all power over to the Pakistan's People's Party (PPP) who saw the formation of a representative led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto's electoral strength, however, was confined to the Punjab and Sind, and even there it had not been based on solid political party organization. This, together with the PPP's lack of following in the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan, meant that Bhutto could not work the central apparatus without at least the implicit support of the civil bureaucracy and the military high command. The 1973 constitution made large concessions to the non-Punjabi provinces and provided the blueprint for a political system based on the semblance of a national consensus. But Bhutto failed to implement the federal provisions of the constitution. He relied on the coercive arm of the state to snuff out political opposition and by neglecting to build the PPP as a truly popular national party. The gap between his popular rhetoric and the marginal successes of his somewhat haphazard economic reforms prevented Bhutto form consolidating a social base of support. Thus, despite a temporary loss of face in 1971 the civil bureaucracy and the army remained the most important pillars of the state structure, instead of the citizens of Pakistan who were still struggling to be recognized in the democratic process.
The Legislative Branch
- National Assembly (also known as the lower house) and has 342 members, including 60 seats that are reserved for women and 10 that are reserved for non-Muslims.
- The Senate (also known as the upper house) is made up of 104 members with seventeen seats reserved for women and four for non-Muslims. The seats for both houses are split between the four provinces, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and Federal Capital. The National Assembly is divided according to population, while the Senate offers a set number of seats for each group for each: 23 per province, eight for the FATA, and four for the Federal Capital.National Assembly members are elected by voters 18 years of age or older, and Senate members are elected by their respective provincial assemblies.
The Executive BranchThe executive branch in Pakistan is made up of the Prime Minister and the President. The Prime Minister is the head of government in Pakistan. The President, on the other hand, is a ceremonial head of state with fewer responsibilities.
- The Prime Minister is elected by members of the National Assembly, not long after those members are elected by the Pakistani people. The candidates are members of the Assembly and are nominated by fellow Assembly members. While there are many political parties in Pakistan, and many of them hold Assembly seats, they do not all have candidates in the Prime Minister elections. Even in elections where there are many nominees, generally only one or two, typically those from larger parties, hold a chance of winning the election. Once elected, the Prime Minster serves a five-year term. The Prime Minister can be re-elected, and there is no limit on how many times one can hold this position. In fact, Pakistan’s current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is serving his third inconsecutive term, though he didn’t complete his first two.Once elected, the Prime Minister is tasked with appointing a federal Council of Ministers. These positions can be filled by both National Assembly members and Senate members. There are ministers for a number of functions, including water and power, science and technology, petroleum and natural resources, railways and more. These ministers play an important role in Pakistan’s government, assisting the Prime Minister throughout his or her term.
- The President is elected a couple months after the Prime Minister by an electoral college consisting of members of the Senate, the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies. The President must be a Muslim and at least 45 years old. The President serves a five-year term and can be re-elected, though nobody can hold the position for more than two consecutive terms. Though President is mostly a ceremonial position, it does have its responsibilities, including appointing the chief justice and remaining judges of the Supreme Court. However, most of the president’s actions follow advice from the Prime Minister.
The Judicial Branch
The Executive Government
Prime Minister of PakistanThe Prime Minister of Pakistan is the Head of Government of Pakistan and designated as the Chief Executive of the Republic, who leads the executive branch of the government, oversees the economical growth, heads the Council of Common Interests as well as the Cabinet, and is vested with the command authority over the nuclear arsenals. He is also a leader of the nation who has control over all matters of internal and foreign policy.The Prime Minister is appointed by the members of the National Assembly through a vote. The Prime Minister is assisted by the Federal Cabinet, a Council of Ministers whose members are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Federal Cabinet comprises of the ministers, ministers of state, and advisers.
The President of Pakistan
The ParliamentThe bicameral federal legislature consists of the Senate (upper house) and National Assembly (lower house). According to Article 50 of the Constitution, the National Assembly, the Senate and the President together make up a body known as the Majlis-i-Shoora (Council of Advisers).
National Assembly of PakistanThe National Assembly of Pakistan is the country's sovereign legislative body. It embodies the will of the people to let themselves be governed under the democratic, multi-party Federal Parliamentary System. The National Assembly makes laws for the Federation in respect of the powers enumerated in the Federal Legislative list. Through its debates, adjournment motion, question hour and Standing Committees, the National Assembly keeps as check over the Executive and ensures that the government functions within the parameters set out in the Constitution and does not violate the fundamental rights of citizens. Only the National Assembly, through its Public Accounts Committee, scrutinizes public spending and exercises control of expenditure incurred by the government.The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a Federal State comprising four provinces of Balochistan, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Punjab and Sindh; Islamabad is the Federal Capital with Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). These federating units offer a lot of diversity and variety in terms of languages, levels of social and economic development, population density and climatic conditions.The Members of the National Assembly are to be elected by direct and free vote in accordance with law.
Types of Government
Federal GovernmentThe Federal Cabinet comprises the ministers, ministers of state, and advisers. As of early 1994, there were thirty-three ministerial portfolios: commerce; communications; culture; defense; defense production; education; environment; finance and economic affairs; food and agriculture; foreign affairs; health; housing; information and broadcasting; interior; Kashmiri affairs and Northern Areas; law and justice; local government; minority affairs; narcotics control; parliamentary affairs; petroleum and natural resources production; planning and development; railroads; religious affairs; science and technology; social welfare; special education; sports; state and frontier regions; tourism; water and power; women's development; and youth affairs.
Provincial GovernmentsPakistan's four provinces enjoy considerable autonomy. Each province has a governor, a Council of Ministers headed by a chief minister appointed by the governor, and a provincial assembly. Members of the provincial assemblies are elected by universal adult suffrage. Provincial assemblies also have reserved seats for minorities. Although there is a well-defined division of responsibilities between federal and provincial governments, there are some functions on which both can make laws and establish departments for their execution. Most of the services in areas such as health, education, agriculture, and roads, for example, are provided by the provincial governments. Although the federal government can also legislate in these areas, it only makes national policy and handles international aspects of those services.
Power and GovernanceBoth the military and the civil bureaucracy were affected by the disruptions wrought by partition. Pakistan cycled through a number of politicians through their beginning political and economic crises. The politicians were corrupt, interested in maintaining their political power and securing the interests of the elite, so to have them as the representative authority did not provide much hope of a democratic state that provided socio-economic justice and fair administration to all Pakistani citizens. Ranging controversies over the issue of the national language, the role of Islam, provincial representation, and the distribution of power between the center and the provinces delayed constitution making and postponed general elections.
Civil BureaucracyBy giving the civil bureaucracy (the chosen few) a part in electoral politics, Khan had hoped to bolster central authority, and largely American-directed, programs for Pakistan's economic development. But his policies exacerbated existing disparities between the provinces as well as within them. Which gave the grievances of the eastern wing a potency that threatened the very centralized control Khan was trying to establish. In West Pakistan, notable successes in increasing productivity were more than offset by growing inequalities in the agrarian sector and their lack of representation, an agonizing process of urbanization, and the concentration of wealth in a few industrial houses. In the aftermath of the 1965 war with India, mounting regional discontent in East Pakistan and urban unrest in West Pakistan helped undermine Ayub Khan's authority, forcing him to relinquish power in March 1969.
The JurisdictionThe Judiciary includes the Supreme Court, Provincial High Courts, District & Sessions Courts, Civil and Magistrate Courts exercising civil and criminal jurisdiction. Some Federal and Provincial Courts and tribunals such as Services Court, Income Tax & Excise Court, Banking Court and Boards of Revenue's Tribunals are established in all provinces as well.
Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan
Provincial and High CourtsCurrently all four provinces; Punjab, Sindh, Khyber PakhtunKhwah and Baluchistan have High Courts. After the approval of 18th Constitutional Amendment in April 2010, a new High Court is established at Federal Capital Islamabad with the name of Islamabad High Court. Judges appointments are proposed by a Parliamentary Commission. In addition, there are special courts and tribunals to deal with specific kinds of cases, such as drug courts, commercial courts, labor courts, traffic courts, an insurance appellate tribunal, an income tax appellate tribunal, and special courts for bank offences. There are also special courts to try terrorists. Appeals from special courts go to high courts except for labor and traffic courts, which have their own forums for appeal. Appeals from the tribunals go to the Supreme Court.
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