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The President of Pakistan (Urdū: صدر Sadr-e-Mumlikat) is the head of state of the Islamic Republic of Pakistanmarker. Pakistan has a parliamentary form of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a five-year term. The electoral college comprises the Senate, National Assembly, and the provincial assemblies. The president may be re-elected but may not serve for more than two consecutive terms. The president may also be impeached and subsequently removed from office by a two-thirds vote by Parliament.

The position of president in Pakistan has traditionally been one of a figurehead, with actual powers lying with the Prime Minister. However, at various times in history, often related with military coups and the subsequent return of civilian governments, changes in the Constitution have altered the powers and privileges associated with the office of the president. The current constitution gives the president reserve powers - subject to Supreme Courtmarker approval or veto - to dissolve the National Assembly, triggering new elections, and thereby to dismiss the Prime Minister. The president also chairs the National Security Council and appoints the heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

History of the Presidency

In 1947, Pakistan became a dominion within the British Commonwealth with the British Monarch as head of state, represented by the Governor-General of Pakistan. In 1956 Pakistan established its first constitution and became a Republic, and the positions of Queen and Governor-General were replaced by the president.

Pakistan's first president was Iskander Mirza, who was also the last Governor General. In 1958, he abrogated the constitution and declared martial law. A few weeks later, he was overthrown in a bloodless coup d'état by General Ayub Khan, who then declared himself President. The constitution was revised, and the President became the ruler of Pakistan. The constitution also stipulated that the President should be elected by the people. Elections were held in 1965, and Ayub Khan defeated Fatima Jinnah, sister of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Yahya Khan stepped down after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the new President and presided over the formation of a new constitution. This constitution was completed in 1973, and reduced the presidency to a figurehead position, giving power to the Prime Minister. Bhutto stepped down as President and became Prime Minister, symbolizing the transition. The president was henceforth elected by legislative assembly members, not by popular vote. Popular vote would be used to directly elect the members of the National Assembly, including the Prime Minister.

On 5 July 1977, Prime Minister Bhutto was toppled by General Zia-ul-Haq, who declared himself CMLA [Chief Martial Law Administrator]. The presidency again became the premier position in the Pakistani government. Zia-ul-Haq introduced the Eighth Amendment, which gave reserve powers to the President's office. Following the mysterious death of Zia-ul-Haq in 1988, the PM's office regained leadership of the country.

Benazir Bhutto (daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) was Pakistan's first and only female prime minister to date. She served as prime minister twice, from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. The first time Bhutto became prime minister in 1988, she was removed from office 20 months later by president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on alleged corruption charges. After a successful 1993 re-election, Bhutto served as prime minister for a second time. However, in 1996 she suffered a similar fate as in 1990, this time being removed by president Farooq Leghari for similar corruption charges. In October 2007, she returned to Pakistan after being granted amnesty and being cleared of all corruption charges by President Pervez Musharraf. Bhutto was assassinated at a Pakistan Peoples Party rally on 27 December 2007.

The Presidency retained its reserve powers until 1997, when the Thirteenth Amendment was passed.

However, the 1999 coup of General Pervez Musharraf brought executive powers back to the President's office. National and provincial elections were held in 2002. In December 2003, the Seventeenth Amendment partially restored the President's reserve powers, but made the exercise of those powers subject to Supreme Courtmarker approval or veto within 30 days. In January 2004, the Electoral College of Pakistan gave Musharraf a vote of confidence, as result of which he was, according to the Constitution, "deemed to be elected". Musharraf's term of office as President was set to expire in 2007.

In 2007, just before the expiry of his term Musharraf declared a state emergency and de facto martial law on 3 November 2007, and purged the judiciary of all independent minded judges, in particular Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudry, who were against him holding the offices of President and army chief together. Earlier in a presidential election, Musharraf was able to secure 57% of votes largely due to his supporters, the PML-Q, and massive resignations of opposition members from the assemblies, on which a decision was pending by the superior court. After the emergency the newly constituted courts under Provisional Constitutional Order issued by Musharraf as army chief, validated the presidential election and declared Musharraf the winner, who in turn took oath for another five years term as President of Pakistan.

Some constitutional experts still dispute the validity of his election according to the constitution of Pakistan. However, this became more academic when Musharraf announced his resignation (with immediate effect) in a public broadcast on 18 August 2008. In accordance with the Pakistani constitution, the Chairman of the Senate took over as Acting President, but a permanent successor would have to be elected within 30 days by the Electoral College. The Electoral College comprises the combined membership of the Senate, the National Assembly and the four Provincial Assemblies. Pakistan's Election Commission on 22 August announced that Presidential elections will be held on 6 September, and the nomination papers can be filed from 26 August.

On 6 September 2008, Asif Ali Zardari was elected Pakistan's 13th President since 1956. Chief election commissioner Qazi Mohammad Farooq announced that "Asif Ali Zardari secured 281 votes out of the 426 valid votes polled in the parliament". His two main opponents were Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, a former judge nominated by Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N), and Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who was nominated by the Pakistan Muslim League that backed Musharraf. In Sindhmarker, Zardari had 62 of the 65 electoral votes while his 2 main opponents got no electoral votes; in North West Frontier Province Zardari got 56 votes against 5 by Siddiqui and one by Hussain; in Baluchistan, 59 votes while Siddiqui and Hussain got 2 each. BBC reported that Zardari "won 459 votes, far more than the 352 votes that would have guaranteed him victory." The New York Times said that Zardari would be sworn in "as soon as Saturday night or as late as Monday or Tuesday, diplomats and officials said." The election was overshadowed by the death of 12 people, after a suicide car bomber blasted a security checkpoint on the outskirts of Peshawarmarker.

On 9 September 2008, Asif Ali Zardari was sworn in as President of Pakistan. Zardari took the oath from the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Abdul Hameed Dogar.

Line of succession to President of Pakistan

Pakistan has a parliamentary system of government that has been modified several times since its inception.

Article 49 of the Constitution discusses the possibility of an acting president.The constitution does not allow for a Vice President, but the Chairman of the Senate officiates in the absence of the President and takes over on the President's death or removal from office. And if the Chairman of the Senate is also unavailable because of unavoidable reasons then Speaker of the National Assembly takes over as President. The Electoral College is responsible for selecting a new president.

Former Presidents of Pakistan

The head of state of Pakistan before 1956 was the British Monarch. For the Governors-General who represented them from 1947 to 1956, see Governor-General of Pakistan.

See also



  1., Pakistan presidential poll on September 6
  2., Pakistan to choose president on 6 September
  3., Zardari front-runner
  4., Bhutto's widower set to become Pakistan president
  5., Zardari wins Pakistan presidential election: officials
  6., Bhutto's widower wins presidency
  7., Zardari Is Elected Pakistan's President
  8., Police: 12 dead in suicide car blast in Pakistan
  10. See Article 48 of the Constitution.

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