Current Political Situation of Pakistan

Election

Current Political Situation of Pakistan

Zainab Zahra

The politics in Pakistan is done within the framework established by the constitution of the country. The country is a federal parliamentary republic in which provincial governments enjoy a higher degree of autonomy and power. Executive power is vested in the federal cabinet which is headed by the prime minister – the head of the government – who works coherently along with the bicameral parliament and the judicature. The head of state is the president who is elected for a five-year term. The president wielded significant powers until the 18th amendment was passed in 2010, which stripped the presidency of its major powers. Since then, Pakistan has been shifted from a Semi-presidential system to a purely parliamentary one.

Pakistan is a multiparty democracy where several political parties vie for seats in the National and provincial assemblies. However, a two-party system has largely prevailed in the country, especially since the promulgation of the 1973 constitution. Besides big parties like Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), there has been a sharp rise in the popularity of centrist parties, e.g. PML-Q and PTI which is currently ruling the country. Pakistani military has also been a player in country’s politics (four coups were staged between 1958 and 1999); however, after the resignation of Pervez Musharraf in August 2008, a sharp line has been drawn between the military and politics. Nonetheless, it is also true that no Prime Minister has been able to serve a full five-year term in office.

Pakistan is a developing country that is, unfortunately, politically unstable. But, we live in a world where everything is possible. In Pakistani politics, we see a clear domination of a few families.

Current Situation

1200px-Emblem_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_Pakistan.svgIf we observe the prevailing political situation in Pakistan, we find that much of the politics is based on different ethnic groups. It is fair to say that the current political situation of Pakistan is in dire need of substantial changes, if we compare it to the political systems of leading nations in the world.

Role of Political Parties

Almost every party represents a particular ethnic group; therefore, no party has got the support in every region because the role of political parties in Pakistan is very much based on different ethnic groups they represent. This is one of the major reasons of slow development in some specific areas as compared to others.

Kashmir in Pakistani politics:

Azad Kashmir has its own constitution, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act of 1974, and a locally-chosen parliamentary government. The constitution allows for many of the structures that comprise a self-governing state, including a legislative assembly elected through periodic elections, a prime minister who commands the majority in the assembly, an indirectly-elected president, an independent judiciary, and local government institutions.

This handout picture released by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz shows Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari (L) talking with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (R) during a meeting in Lahore on July 17, 2009. A Pakistan court quashed convictions against Sharif for plane hijacking and terrorism, clearing the way for a full return to public office for the opposition leader. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE   GETTY OUT     AFP PHOTO/HO/PAKISTAN MUSLIM LEAGUE-NAWAZ
This handout picture released by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz shows Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari (L) talking with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (R) during a meeting in Lahore on July 17, 2009. A Pakistan court quashed convictions against Sharif for plane hijacking and terrorism, clearing the way for a full return to public office for the opposition leader. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE GETTY OUT AFP PHOTO/HO/PAKISTAN MUSLIM LEAGUE-NAWAZ

But, these provisions are hollow. Under Section 56 of the Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act (which was drafted by the Federal Ministries of Law and Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad), the Pakistani government can dismiss any elected government in Azad Kashmir, irrespective of the support it may enjoy in the AJK Legislative Assembly. The Interim Constitution Act provides for two executive forums: the Azad Kashmir Government in Muzaffarabad and the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council in Islamabad.

The latter body, presided over by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, exercises paramount authority over the AJK Legislative Assembly, which cannot challenge the decisions of the council. The council is under the numerical control of the federal government in Islamabad, as in addition to the Pakistani prime minister, it comprises six other federal ministers, the minister for Kashmir affairs as the ex-officio member, the prime minister of Azad Kashmir, and six Azad Kashmir members elected by the Legislative Assembly. The interim constitution act lists fifty-two subjects – virtually everything of any importance – that are under the jurisdiction of the Azad Kashmir Council, which has been described as the “supra power” by the Azad Kashmir High Court. Its decisions are final and not subject to judicial review.

WhatsApp-Image-2018-07-16-at-3.32.29-PMThus, Azad Kashmir remains for all intents and purposes under Pakistan’s strict control, exercising no real sovereignty of its own. From the outset, the institutional set up in the territory was designed to ensure Pakistan’s control of the area’s affairs. According to the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) resolutions, Azad Kashmir is neither a sovereign state nor a province of Pakistan, but rather a “local authority” with responsibility over the area assigned to it under the current 2003 ceasefire line agreement. The “local authority” or Provisional government of Azad Kashmir as established in October 1947 handed over to Pakistan under the Karachi Agreement of April 28, 1949, matters related to defense, foreign affairs, negotiations with the UNCIP and coordination of all affairs relating to Gilgit and Baltistan (strategically important territories that now comprise Pakistan’s “Northern Areas”.

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