Essay On National Integration And Cohesion In Pakistan

The first Constitutional Assembly of Pakistan was located in the old Sindh Assembly Building of Karachi, which is the venue where the Objectives Resolution (Pakistan’s first constitutional document) and the 1956 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan were adopted.[23] It also housed the first Parliament of Pakistan.

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The National Assembly has 342 seats, with sixty of these seats reserved for women and ten for non-Muslims.[46] Seats are allocated to each province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs), and the Federal Capital on the basis of population, as officially published in the last preceding census.[47] The National Assembly must be dissolved at the expiration of a five-year term but can be terminated earlier by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.[48] According to an International Foundation of Electoral Systems’ fact sheet, [t]he President may also dissolve the [National Assembly] at his/her own discretion if a motion of no-confidence is passed against the incumbent Prime Minister and no other member of the Assembly commands the confidence of a majority of members.[49] Therefore, the tenure of a member of the National Assembly “is for the duration of the House, which is five years (Article 52), or sooner, in case the member dies or resigns,” or if the Assembly is dissolved.[50] A political party or a coalition is required to receive 172 seats to have a majority in the National Assembly[51] in order to form a government.[52] If there is no party that has a majority the political party with a plurality of seats is invited to form a government through coalition partners.

Currently, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) holds the most seats in the National Assembly, with 188.

The Prime Minister, who is the head of Government, typically comes to office as the leader of the majority party of the National Assembly.[36] The legislative powers of the federal Parliament are stipulated by the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution of Pakistan, which provides a “Federal Legislative List”[37] of matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction to legislate.

Prior to the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment to Pakistan’s Constitution[38] a “Concurrent Legislative List” existed, which enumerated shared or overlapping competencies with the provincial legislatures[39] but where federal law prevails.[40] After the amendment, fifty-three subjects were in the exclusive domain of the federal government; eighteen subjects in the domain of the Council of Common Interests (CCI), a constitutional body that allows “provincial governments to participate in the formulation of policy on a list of matters that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government but which inevitably concern provinces”;[41] and all residual subjects were devolved to the provincial governments.[42] Those residual matters include such matters as “marriage, contracts, firearms possession, labor, educational curriculums, environmental pollution, bankruptcy, and 40 other diverse areas.”[43] With the Concurrent Legislative List eliminated, each provincial assembly had jurisdiction for drafting its own laws on such matters.[44] Each province of Pakistan has its own elected legislative body known as a Provincial Assembly, which sits in the provincial capitals of Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta.[45] Back to Top Pakistan’s federal legislative branch consists of the President, the National Assembly as the lower house, and the Senate as the upper house.

On December 7, 1970, pursuant to a Legal Framework Order (LFO), a decree issued by then President General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, Pakistan held its first ever general elections where the Assembly was elected “on the adult franchise and population basis.”[9] Mujibur Rahman’s nationalist Awami League party from the provincial state of East Pakistan won a majority of the three hundred contested seats in the National Assembly.[10] However, politicians in West Pakistan, namely the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), joined forces with the military leadership to prevent Mujibur Rahman from forming a government.

Already frustrated with “under-representation in all sectors of the government, economic deprivation and then the suppression of the democratic process,”[11] East Pakistan seceded and the state of Bangladesh was established in 1971.That Constitution, which was promulgated on March 23, 1956, established Pakistan as an Islamic Republic and established a parliamentary system of government with a unicameral legislature.On October 7, 1958, martial law was imposed and the Constitution was abrogated by then President Sikandar Mirza before the first general elections could be held.[8] The military government of General Muhammad Ayub Khan appointed a Constitution Commission in February 1960 that drafted the 1962 Constitution.Though the 1973 Constitution is the current Constitution, it has gone through a number of significant changes, mostly as a result of two more periods of military rule under Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf, which turned the parliamentary system into a semi-presidential system.[13] Significant legal and constitutional changes were also introduced in the 1980s as a result of General Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization process, including the establishment of the Federal Shariat Court and a more enhanced role for the Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional advisory body on Shari‘a law issues.[14] It was not until the Eighteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Pakistan[15] was passed by the National Assembly of Pakistan on April 8, 2010, that Pakistan’s political system was transformed back to a parliamentary system of government.[16] The Amendment was enacted to reverse some of the extensive powers accrued by the presidency under former Presidents General Pervez Musharraf and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, and to empower the role of the Prime Minister and Parliament.The most significant change was the removal of the infamous article 58-2(b), which granted the President discretionary power to dissolve Parliament under “vague emergency provisions.”[17] The presidency became more a titular or ceremonial role[18] and the Prime Minister became chief executive.[19] Moreover, the time limit given to the President to grant assent to a bill passed by Parliament was decreased from thirty days to ten days.[20] Holding the Constitution in abeyance or suspending it became tantamount to high treason and judges are prohibited from “validating or justifying unconstitutional interventions into the working of an elected civilian government.”[21] As a result of the Amendment, the President cannot appoint the Prime Minister; the Prime Minister is now elected with a simple majority of the National Assembly.[22] The location of Pakistan’s Parliament House has shifted throughout its constitutional history.The 1962 Constitution provided for a federal state and a presidential system of government with a unicameral legislature.The 1962 Constitution was abrogated on March 25, 1969, as a result of martial law being imposed for a second time.Under the Interim Constitution of Pakistan, which was adopted in April 1972, Pakistan’s first bicameral legislature was established.The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was later adopted in 1973.[25] The Parliament House building in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, was inaugurated on May 28, 1986.According to the National Assembly’s [t]he National Assembly is the country’s sovereign legislative body. Only the National Assembly, through its Public Accounts Committee, scrutinizes public spending and exercises control of expenditure incurred by the government.[30] Article 90 of the Constitution states that “the executive authority of the Federation shall be exercised in the name of the President by the Federal Government, consisting of the Prime Minister and the Federal Ministers, which shall act through the Prime Minister, who shall be the chief executive of the Federation.”[31] The Cabinet Ministers are made up of members from both houses of Parliament.It embodies the will of the people to let themselves be governed under the democratic, multi-party Federal Parliamentary System . According to article 91(4) of the Constitution, the Cabinet “is collectively responsible to the National Assembly, which elects the Prime Minister.”[32] However, the number of Cabinet ministers who are members of the Senate must not exceed one-fourth of the number of federal ministers.[33] Article 41(2) of the Constitution stipulates that a person shall not be qualified for election as President unless he is a Muslim of not less than forty-five years of age and is qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly.[34] The President is elected for a term of five years by an Electoral College consisting of the members of both houses of Parliament, as well as members of the provincial assemblies.[35] The President is considered the head of state.


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