Pakistan’s Coalition Government Initiates Bold Reforms, Paving the Way for a New Political Landscape

Last Updated on March 11, 2024 3:52 am

In a groundbreaking move, Pakistan’s coalition government, comprised of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has taken a decisive step towards reshaping the country’s political framework. The coalition partners have jointly decided to abolish the caretaker system, asserting that the current approach to governance does not warrant the existence of a caretaker government during the transitional period leading up to fresh elections.

The Express Tribune reported on Saturday that the PML-N and PPP have not only agreed on the elimination of the caretaker system but have also embarked on comprehensive electoral reforms and an overhaul of the supervisory structure. The proposed draft law aims to simplify and streamline the electoral process, with both parties expressing their commitment to ensuring a transparent and accessible democratic system.

Furthermore, the coalition government is setting its sights on three major constitutional amendments, marking a significant shift in the political landscape. These amendments include the abolition of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the restoration of Articles 62 and 63 to their original position, and the empowerment of local governments. Initially focused on the first two amendments, the PML-N signed a formal agreement with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), primarily centered around empowering local governments. The third amendment was subsequently incorporated into the agenda.

The MQM-P’s proposal under Article 140, aimed at establishing the Federation of Local Governments, played a pivotal role in their decision to align with the coalition government. This move follows the earlier emphasis on abolishing the Election Suppression Commission of Pakistan. In a notable development, the PML-N’s leader Nawaz Sharif, in the party’s January election manifesto, vowed to scrap the Pakistan Anti-Corruption Commission (NAB) if the PML-N came into power. The manifesto outlined plans to strengthen existing anti-corruption institutions and agencies.

The coalition government’s commitment to reform extends to Article 62(1)(b) of the Constitution of Pakistan, which mandates that a person must be ‘Sadiq and Amin’ (truthful and trustworthy) to qualify as a member of the National or Provincial Legislature. Discussions are underway regarding potential corrections to this constitutional provision.

In a parallel development, Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, was sworn in as the 14th president of Pakistan on Sunday. Chief Justice of Pakistan Faiz Isa administered the oath at Aiwan-e-Sadar, President’s House in Islamabad. Zardari, the joint candidate of the ruling coalition, secured victory over PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) candidate Mahmood Khan Achakzai. This marks Zardari’s second term as president, having previously served from 2008 to 2013.

The swearing-in ceremony witnessed the presence of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, three army chiefs, senior officers, and diplomats. Zardari clinched 411 electoral votes across Parliament and the provincial assemblies, while his opponent, Achakzai, received 181 votes. Asif Ali Zardari’s return to the presidency follows his earlier tenure and subsequent stint as a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan from August 2018.

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