Pakistan is subdivided into 4 provinces, 2 territorie, and 1 capital territory. Each province has a Provincial Assembly, a directly-elected legislature. Members are elected for five-year terms. Each Assembly elects a Chief Minister, who then selects the ministers of his or her cabinet.
Officially a federalrepublic, Pakistan has had a long history of alternating periods of electoral democracy andauthoritarianmilitary government. Militarypresidentsinclude GeneralAyub Khanin the 1960s, General Zia ul Haq in the 1980s, and General Pervez Musharraf from 1999. However, a majority of Pakistan'sHeads of StateandHeads of Governmenthave been elected civilian leaders. General elections were held in October 2002. After monitoring the elections, the Commonwealth Observer Group stated in conclusion:
We believe that on election day this was a credible election: the will of the people was expressed and the results reflected their wishes. However, in the context of various measures taken by the government we are not persuaded of the overall fairness of the process as a whole.
On May 22, 2004, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group re-admitted Pakistan into theCommonwealth, formally acknowledging its progress in returning to democracy.
Pakistanhas been ruled by both democratic and military governments.The first decade was marred with political unrest and instability resulting in frequent collapses of civilian democratic governments. From 1947 to 1958 as many as sevenPrime Ministersof Pakistan either resigned or were ousted. This political instability paved the way for Pakistan’s first military take over. On October 7, 1958 Pakistan’s civilian and first PresidentIskander Mirzain collaboration with GeneralMohammad Ayub Khanabrogated Pakistan’s constitution and declaredMartial Law.
In the October 2002 general elections, thePakistan Muslim League (Q)(PML-Q) won a plurality of National Assembly seats with the second-largest group being the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), a sub-party of the PPP.Zafarullah Khan Jamaliof PML-Q emerged as Prime Minister but resigned on 26 June 2004 and was replaced by PML-Q leaderChaudhry Shujaat Hussainas interim Prime Minister. On 28 August 2004 the National Assembly voted 191 to 151 to elect theFinance Ministerand formerCitibankVice PresidentShaukat Azizas Prime Minister. TheMuttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of Islamic religious parties, won elections inKhyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and increased their representation in the National Assembly - until their defeat in the 2008 elections.
The Pakistan's federal cabinet on April 12, 2006 decided that general elections would be held after the completion of the assemblies constitutional term by the end of 2007 or beginning of 2008.
JUDICIAL BRANCH: The judiciary includes theSupreme Court, provincial high courts,District & sessions Courts,Civil and Magistrate courts exercising civil and criminal jurisdiction.Some federal and provincial courts and tribunals such as Services court,Income tax & exise court,Banking court and Boards of Revenue's Tribunals are as well established in all provinces.
SUPREME COURT: The Supreme Court has original, appellate, and advisory jurisdiction. TheChief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the president; the other Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president after consultation with the chief justice. The chief justice and judges of the Supreme Court may remain in office until age sixty-five: now 68 years and this is also another clause of seventeenth amendment.
PROVINCIAL & HIGHER COURTS
In every province,there is one High Court.Currently all four provincesPunjab,Sindh,Khyber PakhtunkhwaandBalochistanhave High courts,respectively calledLahore High Court,Sindh High Court,Peshawar High Court,andBalochistan High Court.After the approval of 18th Constitutional Amendment in April 2010,a new High court is established at Federal Capital Islamabad with the name ofIslambad High Court.In 18th Amendment, judges appointments are proposed by a Parliamentary Commission. Judges of the provincial high courts were, previously appointed ( The seventeenth amendment give these powers to the president, previously Prime minister exercised them) by the president after consultation with the chief justice of the Supreme Court, as well as the governor of the province and the chief justice of the high court to which the appointment is being made. High courts have original and appellate jurisdiction.
There is also a Federal Shariat Court consisting of eight Muslim judges, including a chief justice appointed by the president. Three of the judges areulama, that is, Islamic Scholars, and are well versed inIslamic law. The Federal Shariat Court has original and appellate jurisdiction. This court decides whether any law is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. When a law is deemed repugnant to Islam, the president, in the case of a federal law, or the governor, in the case of a provincial law, is charged with taking steps to bring the law into conformity with the injunctions of Islam. The court also hears appeals from decisions of criminal courts under laws relating to the enforcement ofhudud(seeGlossary) laws that is, laws pertaining to such offences as intoxication, theft, and unlawful sexual intercourse.
In addition, there are special courts and tribunals to deal with specific kinds of cases, such as drug courts, commercial courts, labour courts, traffic courts, an insurance appellate tribunal, an income tax appellate tribunal, and special courts for bank offences. There are also special courts to try terrorists. Appeals from special courts go to high courts except for labour and traffic courts, which have their own forums for appeal. Appeals from the tribunals go to the Supreme Court.
Members of the National Assembly are elected by universal adult suffrage (formerly twenty-one years of age and older but the seventeenth amendment changed it to eighteen years of age.). Seats are allocated to each of the four provinces, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and Islamabad Capital Territory on the basis of population. National Assembly members serve for the parliamentary term, which is five years, unless they die or resign sooner, or unless the National Assembly is dissolved. Although the vast majority of the members are Muslim, about 5 percent of the seats are reserved for minorities, including Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs. Elections for minority seats are held on the basis of separate electorates at the same time as the polls for Muslim seats during the general elections. There are also 50+ special seats for women now, and women are selected (i.e. not directly elected in the general election but given representation according to how their parties performed in the general election) on these seat by their party head: another seventeenth amendment innovation.
The Senate is a permanent legislative body with equal representation from each of the four provinces, elected by the members of their respective provincial assemblies. There are representatives from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and from Islamabad Capital Territory. The chairman of the Senate, under the constitution, is next in line to act as president should the office become vacant and until such time as a new president can be formally elected. Both the Senate and the National Assembly can initiate and pass legislation except for finance bills. Only the National Assembly can approve the federal budget and all finance bills. In the case of other bills, the president may prevent passage unless the legislature in joint sitting overrules the president by a majority of members of both houses present and voting. Unlike the National Assembly, the Senate cannot be dissolved by the President.
The bicameral federal legislature consists of the Senate (upper house) and National Assembly (lower house). According to Article 50 of the Constitution, the National Assembly, the Senate and the President together make up a body known as theMajlis-e-Shoora(Council of Advisers).
Pakistan's democracy has norecall method. However, past governments have been dismissed for corruption by the President's invocation of Article 58 of the Constitution. The President's power to dismiss the Prime Minister and dissolve the National Assembly was removed by theThirteenth Anendmentand partially restored by theSeventeenth Amendment.