Government structure

Government of pakistan


Since independence in 1947
Pakistan has had three constitutions, adopted in 1956, 1962, and 1973, consecutively. The 1973 constitution was the result of consensus among the political parties that were represented in the parliament. After a military coup d’état in 1977, martial law was imposed and the constitution was suspended. In 1985 a civilian government was reestablished, and the 1973 constitution was restored, although in a radically amended form. The Eighth Amendment confirmed and legalized all acts and orders that had been issued under the martial law regime, including amendments to the constitution. The amended constitution significantly expanded the powers of the president. It also included clauses that promoted Islam as the supreme law of Pakistan. In 1997, however, the constitution was amended to repeal the main provisions of the Eighth Amendment, stripping the president of the power to dismiss the prime minister and dissolve the parliament. After another military coup in 1999, the constitution was suspended and the democratically elected parliament was dissolved. In August 2002 a presidential decree amended the constitution to grant sweeping powers to the president. Parliamentary elections were held in October to restore civilian rule in the country. The 1973 constitution was formally revived in November.

A -Executive
Pakistan’s head of state is a president. Under the constitution, the president is elected to a five-year term by members of the national and provincial legislatures. A prime minister is the chief executive official. After legislative elections, the president appoints the leader of the majority party or majority coalition in the legislature to serve as prime minister. As amended in August 2002, the constitution allows the president to dissolve the national legislature, appoint military chiefs and Supreme Court justices, and chair the National Security Council, a quasi-military advisory body.

B -Legislature
Under the constitution, legislative power is vested in the bicameral Federal Legislature. The National Assembly (lower house) has 342 seats; 60 of these seats are reserved for women and 10 are reserved for non-Muslims on a basis of proportional representation. Members of the National Assembly are directly elected for five-year terms. The Senate (upper house) has 87 seats; senators are elected indirectly by the provincial and national legislatures for six-year terms.

C -Judiciary
The highest court in
Pakistan is the Supreme Court. The judicial system in each province is headed by a high court. There is also a federal
Sharia Court
, which hears cases that primarily involve Sharia, or Islamic law. Legislation enacted in 1991 gave legal status to Sharia. Although Sharia was declared the law of the land, it did not replace the existing legal code.

D -Local Government
According to the constitution,
Pakistan is a federation. The country is divided into four autonomous (self-governing) provinces; two federally administered areas; and the Islāmābād Capital Territory, which consists of the capital city of Islāmābād.

The four provinces are
Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Punjab, and Sind. The provinces are headed by governors appointed by the president. Under the constitution, each province has a directly elected provincial assembly headed by a chief minister. However, the provincial assemblies were suspended following the 1999 military coup.
Islāmābād Capital Territory, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) are under the jurisdiction of the federal government. In the FATA, however, tribal leaders manage most internal affairs. Azad (Free) Kashmīr has a separate and autonomous government but maintains strong ties to Pakistan. Control of the territory included within FANA and Azad Kashmīr is a matter of dispute between Pakistan and India.

E -Political Parties
Pakistan’s founding nationalist party, the Muslim League, dissolved after martial law was imposed in 1958. The Pakistan Muslim League (PML) founded in 1962 bore little resemblance to the original party. The PML subsequently splintered into several factions. In the aftermath of the military coup of 1977, political parties were banned from 1979 until civilian rule was restored in 1985. Although political parties were not banned after the military coup of 1999, they could not participate in government because the parliament and provincial assemblies were dissolved. Many political parties participated in the October 2002 elections that restored civilian rule in Pakistan.

The main political groups are the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam), or PML-Q, a faction of the PML that generally supports President Pervez Musharraf and the military; the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), or PML-N, the PML faction that remains loyal to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif; the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), led by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the largest party within the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (a 15-party pro-democracy bloc); and the Muthida Majlis-e-Amal (United Council of Action), an alliance of six hardline Islamic groups.

F -Health and Welfare
Health services in
Pakistan are limited by a lack of facilities. In 1999 the country had one physician for every 2,703 people and one hospital bed for every 1,535 people. In 1976 an old-age pension system was inaugurated, but it covers relatively few Pakistanis.

G -Defense
Military service in
Pakistan is voluntary. In 2001 the country’s armed forces had 620,000 members, including 550,000 in the army, 45,000 in the air force, and 25,000 in the navy. Another 247,000 were in paramilitary units.


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