BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Urdu Hindi Pashto Bengali Tamil Nepali Sinhala
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: South Asia  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 00:53 GMT 01:53 UK
Musharraf plans greater powers
Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf is seeking to increase his own authority
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has unveiled plans for constitutional changes which would give him greater powers.

The proposals, which come weeks before elections to restore a civilian prime minister, would also limit the premier's authority.


The purpose of these amendments is to establish sustainable federal democracy

Syed Anwar Mahmood
Pakistan Information Minister
The amendments would enable General Musharraf to name and dismiss the prime minister and the cabinet.

Various civil rights and legal groups have criticised the plans, saying they will prevent a return to true democracy.

Political sources say General Musharraf is likely to implement the changes by decree before elections for prime minister are held in October.

Sweeping changes

Under the current constitution, the president must act on the prime minister's advice.

Narwaz Sharif
Musharraf toppled Sharif in a bloodless coup
But General Musharraf is seeking to give himself the power to unilaterally dissolve parliament and choose his own prime minister.

The amendments also include provisions to cut the terms of parliament and prime minister from five years to four.

In addition, the proposals provide for a permanent 10-member policy-making National Security Council (NSC), which General Musharraf would head.

The minimum voting age would also be lowered from 21 to 18 and changes would be made to the number of seats in the national and provincial assemblies.

Public debate

Information Secretary Syed Anwar Mahmood said General Musharraf and his cabinet will hold a month-long debate before deciding whether to effect the changes.

"These are proposals, please treat them as such.

"The purpose of these amendments is to establish sustainable federal democracy, " he said.

According to the draft, the president would have the power to fire elected officials "for serious abuse of authority, failure to check corruption, compromising national security interests and violation of the Constitution."

General Musharraf, who toppled former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999, was empowered to implement such changes by a Supreme Court ruling that validated his coup.

Protests planned

There have been widespread objections to the proposals within Pakistan.

Observers say they will not be acceptable to opposition groups which want General Musharraf to hand power over to an interim administration to oversee the elections.

Last month, Pakistan's two main opposition parties refused to meet the president for talks over the crisis with India unless the agenda included their demand that he step down.

The head of Pakistan's Lahore High Court Bar Association, Chaudhry Mohammed Muzamal Khan, told the Associated Press news agency thousands of lawyers were planning to stage marches in protest against the proposed amendment.

Mr Khan said only an elected parliament had the power to make changes to the constitution.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

04 May 02 | South Asia
04 May 02 | South Asia
01 May 02 | South Asia
05 Apr 02 | South Asia
05 Apr 02 | South Asia
03 Apr 02 | South Asia
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes