New Pakistan govt to clip president's powers: report

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Islamabad, Feb 28 (UNI) The main coalition partners of the new central government in Pakistan have decided to knock down in its first few weeks all the discretionary powers of the president, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and several other constitutional clauses and laws, which were framed to discriminate against politicians.

The package of constitutional and legal amendments under consideration of the experts of the PPP and PML-N will also provide for the removal of the ban on two-time former prime minister serving for a third term, local daily The News reported today.

At the very outset of its term, the next government is poised to seek restoration of the deposed judges of the Supreme Court, who were sent packing through the November 3 Provisional Constitution Order (PCO), and scrapping of the National Security Council (NSC).

The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution will be amended to divest the president of the power which says that all the 35 laws listed in it can not be altered, repealed or amended by parliament or the government through ordinances without the president's previous sanction.

These also include the law relating to the bar on the twice-elected former premier to assume the office again.

The president's principal discretionary powers, which have always been a great bone of contention with all civilian governments since 1985, relate to the appointment of chiefs of the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force and Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chief Election Commissioner, dissolution of the National Assembly, etc.

Only Mr Nawaz Sharif as prime minister had thrown out of window all these constitutional clauses through the 14th Amendment, making the then president, Farooq Leghari, another Fazal Elahi. After that, Leghari had resigned. Nawaz's nominated president, Rafiq Tarar, was content being a figurehead head of state.

However, all the discretionary powers of the president were again got inserted in the Constitution by Mr Pervez Musharraf through the 17th Amendment courtesy to the support of the Islamist alliance, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.

However, Mr Musharraf's amendments like the lowering of the voting age to 18 years, increase in the number of seats of the National Assembly and Senate and unprecedented hike in the special seats of women in the two chambers will remain untouched in the new scheme of the Constitution that is being devised now with a view to reviving it in its original shape.

UNI XC ARB KN1451

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