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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistan to curtail presidential powers

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, April 1, IRNA -- In a rare show of unity the ruling coalition and all opposition parties agreed late Wednesday night to introduce wide-ranging amendments in the constitution and curtail presidential powers to dissolve the parliament.

Members of the parliament, representing major political parties, signed a draft of the proposed amendments, called "18th Amendment”, which will be presented in the joint session of the parliament, Law Minister Babar Awan said.

The amendments will curtail the president's powers, particularly his power to dissolve the parliament, which had been controversial issue in Pakistan’s political history.

The amendment will make the President bound to dissolve the parliament only on the Prime Minister's advice and he will have no powers to act on his own.

Former military president Pervez Musharraf had amended the country’s constitution of 1973 and grabbed the power to dissolve the elected parliament.

“I want to congratulate the nation, whose elected parliament and MPs have proved that the politicians understand the situation and can solve the difficult and complicated matters through consensus,” Chairman of the amendments committee, Senator Raza Rabbai, told a news conference after the leaders signed the draft.

Sources said that the draft amendments are likely to be tabled in the parliament on Thursday.

Constitutional experts say that the new amendment will make parliament more powerful than it ever was.

The amendment is so wide-ranging that Pakistan is going to acquire, almost, a new constitution, some legal experts said.

The ruling Pakistan People's party and major opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-(Nawaz) and all other opposition parties supported the amendment.

After the amendment is passed, the name of North West Frontier Province will be renamed and reports said that parties agreed on new name as ‘Khyber Pukhtunkhwa’.

On the contentious issue of the appointment of judges to the apex court too, many radical changes are being introduced.

Representatives from the various political parties held over 70 meetings, to finalise the sweeping change in Pakistan's constitution.

Sources said that some 80 amendments have been introduced in the constitution.

The amendments say that those who abrogate the constitution will be considered as traitors.

**1420

End News / IRNA / News Code 1031701



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