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Pakistan, Government

Since independence in 1947 Pakistan has had three constitutions, adopted in 1956, 1962, and 1973, consecutively. The 1973 constitution was the result of consensus among the political parties that were represented in the parliament. After a military coup d’etat in 1977, martial law was imposed and the constitution was suspended. In 1985 a civilian government was reestablished, and the 1973 constitution was restored, although in a radically amended form. The Eighth Amendment confirmed and legalized all acts and orders that had been issued under the martial law regime, including amendments to the constitution. The amended constitution significantly expanded the powers of the president. It also included clauses that promoted Islam as the supreme law of Pakistan. In 1997, however, the constitution was amended to repeal the main provisions of the Eighth Amendment, stripping the president of the power to dismiss the prime minister and dissolve the parliament. After another military coup in 1999, the constitution was suspended and the democratically elected parliament was dissolved. In August 2002 a presidential decree amended the constitution to grant sweeping powers to the president. Parliamentary elections were held in October to restore civilian rule in the country.

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