The Eighteenth Constitutional amendment Bill that will be tabled in Pakistan's Parliament tomorrow is expected to cut some of the powers of the President.
Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said Pakistan government will table a Constitutional reforms package in Parliament on Friday to fulfil a pledge to remove changes made to the Constitution by previous military regimes, amid reports that it contains amendments aimed at cutting the President’s sweeping powers.
He said the 18th Constitutional amendment Bill, based on recommendations made by a Constitutional reforms committee comprising Parliamentarians, will be a step forward in the light of the Charter of Democracy, which was signed between the now ruling PPP and opposition PML-N in 2006.
“We had promised the nation (that we would remove changes made to the Constitution by earlier military regimes) and now we will fulfil it,” Mr. Gilani said, referring to the 18th amendment Bill.
He was speaking at the inauguration of an exhibition marking the completion of two years by the Pakistan People’s Party-led government at the centre.
Though Mr. Gilani did not give details about the Constitutional reforms package, media reports said it contains wide-ranging amendments aimed at stripping the President of sweeping powers, including the authority to appoint the service chiefs and dissolve Parliament.
The package will be tabled in the Senate and National Assembly tomorrow and President Asif Ali Zardari will address a joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament.
One-fourth of the Constitution’s articles are likely to be amended by the package.
The parliamentary committee that framed the package has suggested over 100 amendments to 70 articles of the Constitution, the Dawn newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying.
The Parliamentary committee, which has members from all major parties, was formed last year after the PPP and main opposition PML-N pledged to remove changes made to the Constitution by two former military rulers, Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf.
The PPP and PML-N said the Constitutional reforms would be in line with the Charter of Democracy.
The committee has also suggested major changes in the Constitution to give Pakistan's four provinces more administrative, financial and political autonomy.
However, the panel has reportedly not touched Constitutional articles dealing with Islamic provisions due to fears of a possible public reaction.
Mr. Gilani also said he had been elected for five years and would continue working to strengthen the country's institutions.
"I have decided to strengthen the institutions in the country that are passing through evolution," he said.
The issues of poverty, hunger and electricity will take time to get resolved but democracy should continue and it should work in the country, he said.