Zardari's key powers slashed as Pak Senate approves constitutional amendment bill

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Islamabad, Apr.16 (ANI): The historic 18th Constitutional Amendment bill, which would transfer President Asif Ali Zardari's key powers to the Prime Minister's residence, has been passed by the Pakistan Senate by an overwhelming two-third majority.

Describing the passage of the bill as a 'landmark' event in the country's history, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said: "It is a victory of democracy today. Approval of this constitutional amendment is a landmark event in the constitutional history of Pakistan."

The bill, which also omitted the name of former President General Zia-ul-Haq from the Constitution, would now be presented to Zardari for final approval, The News reports.

The bill, which is likely to be signed into law by Zardari today (Friday), will effectively make the President an 'ostensible' head of state, who can formally appoint heads of the armed forces, dissolve the National Assembly and appoint provincial governors on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The House also introduced an amendment to the Constitution to change the procedure for the appointment of judges of superior judiciary.

Under this provision, the judges would now be nominated by a Judicial Commission, headed by the Chief Justice, while the final approval of the appointments would be given by a parliamentary committee, consisting of members of the National Assembly and the Senate.

Although the bill was passed by a majority of votes in the Senate, some leaders belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and other political parties objected to a couple of clauses in the bill, which were related to renaming of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as "Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa", and intra-party polls. (ANI)

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