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AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION SEVENTEENTH

AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION, SEVENTEENTH The Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act 2003 was passed in December 2003, after a year of political wrangling between supporters and opponents of President Pervez Musharraf While the members of the National Assembly representing the Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) continued to oppose the amendment, the government was able to secure the support of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal on the promise that Musharraf would retire from the military no later than end of December 2004 It incorporated the Legal Framework Order (LFO) issued by the Musharraf administrationA new article 63(1)(d) was inserted that prohibited a person from holding both a “political office” (such as that of the president) and an “office of profit” (such as a career civil or military office, including the chief of army staff) However, a loophole was provided in the article, according to which the Parliament could pass a law permitting the president to hold the office of chief of army staff (COAS), an option which Musharraf later exercised For the incumbent president to remain in office, he had to win a vote of confidence in the electoral college, made up of the National and four Provincial Assemblies, within 30 days of the passage of the amendment Musharraf was able to meet this requirement on 1 January 2004, when he secured 658 of 1,170 votes, a majority of 56 percent The Seventeenth Amendment essentially reversed the effects of the Thirteenth Amendment As was the case in the Eighth Amendment, later repeated by the Thirteenth Amendment, the president could dissolve the National Assembly, thus effectively removing the prime minister However, the power to exercise this authority was made subject to the approval, or veto, of the Supreme Court



Provincial governors were given the same authority, in the case of provincial assemblies Of the 10 laws added to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution (“laws that are not to be altered, repealed or amended without the previous sanction of the President”), five were to lose their protection after six years The laws that were thus affected included those that established the system of local government President Musharraf agreed to the exclusion of this clause from the amendment The clause would have established the National Security Council (NSC) Under the agreement with the opposition, the NSC could be formed on the basis of an act passed by the National Assembly

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