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CHARTER OF DEMOCRACY, 17th AMENDMENT
1. 17th AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION
2. CHARTER OF DEMOCRACY
A. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
B. CODE OF CONDUCT
C. FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS
D. CIVIL – MILITARY RELATIONS
17th AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF PAKISTAN OVERVIEW:
Seventeenth Amendment Act, 2003 was an amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan passed in December 2003, after over a year of political wrangling between supporters and opponents of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
This amendment made many changes to Pakistan’s constitution. Many of these changes dealt with the office of the President and the reversal of the effects of the Thirteenth Amendment. Summarized here are brief descriptions of the major points.
* President Musharraf’s Legal Framework Order (LFO) was largely incorporated into the constitution, with a few changes.
* Article 63(1)(d) of the Constitution to become operative after December 31, 2004. The intent of this was to prohibit a person from holding both a political office (such as that of the President) and an “office of profit” – an office that is typically held by a career government servant, civil or military – such as the office of the Chief of Army Staff. Although this was supposed to separate the two types of office, a loophole – “..other than an office declared by law ..” – allowed Parliament to pass an ordinary law later in 2004 – permitting the President to hold on to the office of Chief of Army Staff, an option that President Musharraf then exercised.
* Should the President win a majority in a vote of confidence in the electoral college within 30 days of the passage of this amendment, he shall be deemed to be elected to the office of President. (On January 1, 2004, Musharraf won 658 out of 1,170 electoral-college votes – a 56% majority – and was thereby deemed to be elected president.)
* The President regains the authority to dissolve the National Assembly – and thus effectively to dismiss the Pakistani Prime Minister – but the power to do so is made subject to an approval or veto by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
* A Governor’s power to dissolve a Provincial Assembly is similarly subject to Supreme Court approval or veto.
* Article 152A, which dealt with the National Security Council, was annulled. (The legal basis for the NSC is now an ordinary law, the National Security Council Act of 2004.)
* Ten laws had been added by the LFO to the Sixth Schedule, which is a list of “laws that are not to be altered, repealed or amended without the previous sanction of the President.” After this amendment, five of those laws will lose their Sixth Schedule protection after six years. Laws to be unprotected include the four laws that established the system of democratic local governments. (Those in favor of this change have argued that it would enable each province to evolve its own systems. Opponents fear that authoritarian provincial governments could disempowered or even dismantle the system of local democracies.)
TEXT OF 17TH AMENDMENT BILL OF THE CONSTITUTION
Following is the text of the 17th Amendment Bill of the Constitution passed by the Lower House of the Parliament on Monday afternoon (29-12-2003) by a two-thirds majority.
A Bill further to amend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
WHEREAS it is expedient further to amend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the purposes hereinafter appearing;
It is hereby enacted as follows:-
1. Short title and commencement:
(1) This Act may be called the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act, 2003; (2) It shall come into force at once.
2. Amendment of Article 41 of the Constitution:
In the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, hereinafter referred to as the Constitution, in Article 41, (1) In clause (7), in paragraph (b), for the full stop at the end, a colon shall be substituted and thereafter the following proviso shall be added, namely; “Provided that paragraph (d) of clause (1) of Article 63 shall become operative on and from the 31st day of December, 2004.”; and (2) After clause (7) amended as aforesaid, the following new clauses shall be added, namely:- “(8) Without prejudice to the provisions of clause (7), any member or members of a House of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or of a Provincial Assembly, individually or jointly, may, not later than thirty days from the commencement of the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act, 2003, move a resolution for vote of confidence for further affirmation of the President in office by majority of the members present and voting, by division or any other method as prescribed in the rules made by the Federal Government under clause (9), of the electoral college consisting of members of both Houses of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) and the Provincial Assemblies, in a special session of each House of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) and of each Provincial Assembly summoned for the purpose, and the vote of confidence having been passed, the President, notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution or judgment of any court, shall be deemed to be elected to hold office for a term of five years under the Constitution, and the same shall not be called in question in any court or forum on any ground whatsoever. (9) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution or any other law for the time being in force, the proceedings for the vote of confidence referred to in clause (8) shall be regulated and conducted by the Chief Election Commissioner in accordance with such procedure and the votes shall be counted in such manner as may be prescribed by the rules framed by the Federal Government:- Provided that clauses (8) and (9) shall be valid only for the forthcoming vote of confidence for the current term of the President in office”.
3. Amendment of Article 58 of the Constitution:
In the Constitution, in Article 58, after clause (2), the following new clause shall be added, namely:- “(3) The President in case of dissolution of the National Assembly under paragraph (b) of clause (2) shall, within fifteen days of the dissolution, refer the matter to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court shall decide the reference within thirty days whose decision shall be final”.
4. Amendment of Article 112 of the Constitution:
In the Constitution, in Article 112, after clause (2), the following new clause shall be added, namely:- “(3) The Governor in case of dissolution of the Provisional Assembly under paragraph (b) of clause (2) shall within fifteen days of the dissolution refer the matter to the Supreme Court with the previous approval of the President and the Supreme Court shall decide the reference within thirty days whose decision shall be final.”
5. Omission of Article 152 A of the Constitution:
In the Constitution, Article 152 A shall be omitted.
6. Substitution of Article 179 of the Constitution:
In the Constitution, for Article 179, the following shall be substituted, namely: “179.Retiring Age- A judge of the Supreme Court shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty five years, unless he sooner resigns or is removed from office in accordance with the Constitution.”
7. Substitution of Article 195 of the Constitution:
In the Constitution, for Article 195, the following shall be substituted, namely: “195 Retiring Age- A judge of the High Court shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-two years, unless he sooner resigns or is removed from office in accordance with the Constitution.”
8. Amendment of Article 243 of the Constitution:
In the Constitution, in Article 243, in clause (3), for the words” in his discretion” the words “ in consultation with the Prime Minister” shall be substituted.
9. Amendment of Article 268 of the Constitution:
In the Constitution, in Article 268, in clause (2), for the full stop at the end, a colon shall be substituted and thereafter the following proviso shall be added, namely: “Provided that the laws mentioned at entries 27 to 30 and entry 35 in the Sixth Schedule shall stand omitted after six years”.
10. Substitution of Article 270-AA of the Constitution:
In the Constitution, for Article 270 AA, the following shall be substituted, namely:- “270-AA- Validation and affirmation of laws etc.
(1) The Proclamation of Emergency of the fourteenth day of October, 1999, all President’s Orders, Ordinances, Chief Executive’s Orders, including the Provisional Constitution Order No. 1 of 1999, the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000 (No. 1 of 2000), Chief Executive’s Order No. 12 of 2002, the amendments made in the Constitution through the Legal Framework Order, 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No. 24 of 2002), the Legal Framework (Amendment) Order , 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No. 29 of 2002), the Legal Framework (Second Amendment) Order, 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No. 32 of 2002) and all other laws made between the twelfth day of October, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine and the date on which this Article comes into force (both days inclusive), having been duly made or accordingly affirmed, adopted and declared to have been validly made by the competent authority and notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution shall not be called in question in any court or forum on any ground whatsoever.
(2) All orders made, proceedings taken, appointments made, including secondments and deputations, and acts done by any authority, or by any person, which were made, taken or done, or purported to have been made, taken or done, between the twelfth day of October, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine, and the date on which this Article comes into force (both days inclusive), in exercise of the powers derived from any Proclamation, President’s Orders, Ordinances, Chief Executive’s Orders, enactments, including amendments in the Constitution, notifications, rules, orders, bye-laws or in execution of or in compliance with any orders made or sentences passed by any authority in the exercise or purported exercise of powers as aforesaid, shall, notwithstanding any judgment of any court, be deemed to be and always to have been validly made, taken or done and shall not be called in question in any court or forum on any ground whatsoever.
(3) All Proclamations, President’s Orders, Ordinances, Chief Executive’s Orders, laws, regulations, enactments, including amendments in the Constitution, notification, rules, orders or bye-laws in force immediately before the date on which this Article comes into force shall continue in force, until altered, repealed or amended by the competent authority. Explanation.- in this clause,” competent authority” means,-
(a) in respect of President’s Orders, Ordinances, Chief Executive’s Orders and enactments, including amendments in the Constitution, the appropriate Legislature; and
(b) in respect of notifications, rules, orders and bye-laws, the authority in which the power to make, alter, repeal or amend the same vests under the law.
(4) No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings, including writ petitions, shall lie in any court or forum against any authority or any persons, for or on account of or in respect of any order made, proceedings taken or act done whether in the exercise or purported exercise of the powers referred to in clause (2) or in execution of or in compliance with orders made or sentences passed in exercise or purported exercise of such powers.
(5) For the purposes of clauses (1), (2) and (4), all orders made, proceedings taken , appointments made, including secondments and deputations, acts done or purporting to be made, taken or done by any authority or person shall be deemed to have been made, taken or done in good faith and for the purpose intended to be served thereby”.
Statement of objects and reasons: This Bill seeks to amend Article 41, 58, 112, 152A, 179, 195, 243, 268 and 270 AA of the Constitution as under:-
(a) Article 41, is sought to be amended to add a proviso to paragraph (b) of clause (7) and after clause (7) amended as aforesaid, new clauses (8) and (9) have been added. Clause (8) provides for vote of confidence in the President and clause (9) empowers the Federal Government to make rules for conducting vote of confidence.
(b) Article 58 is sought to be amended to the effect that on dissolution of the National Assembly in terms of paragraph (b) of clause (2) of Article 58, the President shall refer the matter to the Supreme Court.
(c) Article 112 is also being amended on the lines of amendment proposed in Article 58.
(d) Article 152 A is proposed to be omitted.
(e) Article 179 is proposed to be substituted.
(f) Article 195 is proposed to be substituted.
(g) The amendment in Article 243 substitutes the expression “in his discretion” with the expression “in consultation with the Prime Minister”.
(h) The amendment in clause (2) of Article 268 seeks to omit entries 27 to 30 and entry 35 in the Sixth Schedule after six years.
(i) Article 270 AA is to be substituted for providing affirmation and continuation of all laws made and actions taken between the twelfth day of October, 1999, and the day on which this Article comes into force.
The Bill seeks to achieve the aforesaid objects.
CHARTER OF DEMOCRACY
PML-N’s leader Nawaz Sharif and PPP’s leader Benazir Bhutto signed the Charter of Democracy on May 14, 2006 in London. The document, signaling an alliance between two political parties of Pakistan.
Text of the Charter of Democracy
The following is the full text of the Charter of Democracy
“We the elected leaders of Pakistan have deliberated on the political crisis in our beloved homeland, the threats to its survival, the erosion of the federation’s unity, the military’s subordination of all state institutions, the marginalisation of civil society, the mockery of the Constitution and representative institutions, growing poverty, unemployment and inequality, brutalization of society, breakdown of rule of law and, the unprecedented hardships facing our people under a military dictatorship, which has pushed our beloved country to the brink of a total disaster;
Noting the most devastating and traumatic experiences that our nation experienced under military dictatorships that played havoc with the nation’s destiny and created conditions disallowing the progress of our people and the flowering of democracy. Even after removal from office they undermined the people’s mandate and the sovereign will of the people;
Drawing history’s lesson that the military dictatorship and the nation cannot co-exist – as military involvement adversely affect the economy and the democratic institutions as well as the defence capabilities, and the integrity of the country – the nation needs a new direction different from a militaristic and regimental approach of the Bonaparte’s regimes, as the current one;
Taking serious exception to the vilification campaign against the representatives of the people, in particular, and the civilians, in general, the victimization of political leaders/workers and their media trials under a Draconian law in the name of accountability, in order to divide and eliminate the representative political parties, to Gerrymander a king’s party and concoct legitimacy to prolong the military rule;
Noting our responsibility to our people to set an alternative direction for the country saving it from its present predicaments on an economically sustainable, socially progressive, politically democratic and pluralist, federally cooperative, ideologically tolerant, internationally respectable and regionally peaceful basis in the larger interests of the peoples of Pakistan to decide once for all that only the people and no one else has the sovereign right to govern through their elected representatives, as conceived by the democrat par excellence, Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah;
Reaffirming our commitment to undiluted democracy and universally recognized fundamental rights, the rights of a vibrant opposition, internal party democracy, ideological/political tolerance, bipartisan working of the parliament through powerful committee system, a cooperative federation with no discrimination against federating units, the decentralization and devolution of power, maximum provincial autonomy, the empowerment of the people at the grassroots level, the emancipation of our people from poverty, ignorance, want and disease, the uplift of women and minorities, the elimination of klashnikov culture, a free and independent media, an independent judiciary, a neutral civil service, rule of law and merit, the settlement of disputes with the neighbors through peaceful means, honoring international contracts, laws/covenants and sovereign guarantees, so as to achieve a responsible and civilized status in the comity of nations through a foreign policy that suits our national interests;
Calling upon the people of Pakistan to join hands to save our motherland from the clutches of military dictatorship and to defend their fundamental, social, political and economic rights and for a democratic, federal, modern and progressive Pakistan as dreamt by the Founder of the nation; have adopted the following, “Charter of Democracy”;
A. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
1. The 1973 Constitution as on 12 October 1999 before the military coup shall be restored with the provisions of joint electorates, minorities, and women reserved seats on closed party list in the Parliament, the lowering of the voting age, and the increase in seats in parliament and the Legal Framework Order, 2000 and the Seventeenth Constitutional Amendment shall be repealed accordingly.
2. The appointment of the governors, three services chiefs and the CJCSC shall be made by the chief executive who is the prime minister, as per the 1973 Constitution.
3. (a) The recommendations for appointment of judges to superior judiciary shall be formulated through a commission, which shall comprise of [sic] the following:
i. The chairman shall be a chief justice, who has never previously taken oath under the PCO.
ii. The members of the commission shall be the chief justices of the provincial high courts who have not taken oath under the PCO, failing which the senior most judge of that high court who has not taken oath shall be the member
iii. Vice-Chairmen of Pakistan and Vice-Chairmen of Provincial Bar Association with respect to the appointment of judges to their concerned province
iv. President of Supreme Court Bar Association
v. Presidents of High Court Bar Associations of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and Quetta with respect to the appointment of judges to their concerned province
vi. Federal Minister for Law and Justice
vii. Attorney General of Pakistan
(a-i) The commission shall forward a panel of three names for each vacancy to the prime minister, who shall forward one name for confirmation to joint parliamentary committee for confirmation of the nomination through a transparent public hearing process.
(a-ii) The joint parliamentary committee shall comprise of [sic] 50 per cent members from the treasury benches and the remaining 50 per cent from opposition parties based on their strength in the parliament nominated by respective parliamentary leaders.
(b) No judge shall take oath under any Provisional Constitutional Order or any other oath that is contradictory to the exact language of the original oath prescribed in the Constitution of 1973.
(c) Administrative mechanism will be instituted for the prevention of misconduct, implementation of code of ethics, and removal of judges on such charges brought to its attention by any citizen through the proposed commission for appointment of Judges.
(d) All special courts including anti-terrorism and accountability courts shall be abolished and such cases be tried in ordinary courts. Further to create a set of rules and procedures whereby, the arbitrary powers of the chief justices over the assignment of cases to various judges and the transfer of judges to various benches such powers shall be exercised by the Chief Justice and two senior most judges sitting together.
4. A Federal Constitutional Court will be set up to resolve constitutional issues, giving equal representation to each of the federating units, whose members may be judges or persons qualified to be judges of the Supreme Court, constituted for a six-year period. The Supreme and High Courts will hear regular civil and criminal cases. The appointment of judges shall be made in the same manner as for judges of higher judiciary.
5. The Concurrent List in the Constitution will be abolished. A new NFC award will be announced.
6. The reserved seats for women in the national and provincial assemblies will be allocated to the parties on the basis of the number of votes polled in the general elections by each party.
7. The strength of the Senate of Pakistan shall be increased to give representation to minorities in the Senate.
8. FATA shall be included in the NWFP province in consultation with them.
9. Northern Areas shall be developed by giving it a special status and further empowering the Northern Areas Legislative Council to provide people of Northern Areas access to justice and human rights.
10. Local bodies election will be held on party basis through provincial election commissions in respective provinces and constitutional protection will be given to the local bodies to make them autonomous and answerable to their respective assemblies as well as to the people through regular courts of law.
B. CODE OF CONDUCT
11. National Security Council will be abolished. Defence Cabinet Committee will be headed by prime minister and will have a permanent secretariat. The prime minister may appoint a federal security adviser to process intelligence reports for the prime minister. The efficacy of the higher defence and security structure, created two decades ago, will be reviewed. The Joint Services Command structure will be strengthened and made more effective and headed in rotation among the three services by law.
12. The ban on a ‘prime minister not being eligible for a third term of office’ will be abolished.
13. (a) Truth and Reconciliation Commission be established to acknowledge victims of torture, imprisonment, state-sponsored persecution, targeted legislation, and politically motivated accountability. The commission will also examine and report its findings on military coups and civil removals of governments from 1996.
(b) A commission shall also examine and identify the causes of and fix responsibility and make recommendations in the light thereof for incidences such as Kargil.
(c) Accountability of NAB and other Ehtesab operators to identify and hold accountable abuse of office by NAB operators through purgery and perversion of justice and violation of human rights since its establishment.
(d) To replace politically motivated NAB with an independent accountability commission, whose chairman shall be nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of opposition and confirmed by a joint parliamentary committee with 50 per cent members from treasury benches and remaining 50 per cent from opposition parties in same manner as appointment of judges through transparent public hearing. The confirmed nominee shall meet the standard of political impartiality, judicial propriety; moderate views expressed through his judgments and would have not dealt.
14. The press and electronic media will be allowed its independence. Access to information will become law after parliamentary debate and public scrutiny.
15. The chairmen of public accounts committee in the national and provincial assemblies will be appointed by the leaders of opposition in the concerned assemblies.
16. An effective Nuclear Command and Control system under the Defence Cabinet Committee will be put in place to avoid any possibility of leakage or proliferation.
17. Peaceful relations with India and Afghanistan will be pursued without prejudice to outstanding disputes.
18. Kashmir dispute should be settled in accordance with the UN Resolutions and the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
19. Governance will be improved to help the common citizen, by giving access to quality social services like education, health, job generation, curbing price hike, combating illegal redundancies, and curbing lavish spending in civil and military establishments as ostentious causes great resentment amongst the teeming millions. We pledge to promote and practice simplicity, at all levels.
20. Women, minorities, and the under privileged will be provided equal opportunities in all walks of life.
21. We will respect the electoral mandate of representative governments that accepts the due role of the opposition and declare neither shall undermine each other through extra constitutional ways.
22. We shall not join a military regime or any military sponsored government. No party shall solicit the support of military to come into power or to dislodge a democratic government.
23. To prevent corruption and floor crossing all votes for the Senate and indirect seats will be by open identifiable ballot. Those violating the party discipline in the poll shall stand disqualified by a letter from the parliamentary party leader to the concerned Speaker or the Chairman Senate with a copy to the Election Commission for notification purposes within 14 days of receipt of letter failing which it will be deemed to have been notified on the expiry of that period.
24. All military and judicial officers will be required to file annual assets and income declarations like Parliamentarians to make them accountable to the public.
25. National Democracy Commission shall be established to promote and develop a democratic culture in the country and provide assistance to political parties for capacity building on the basis of their seats in parliament in a transparent manner.
26. Terrorism and militancy are by-products of military dictatorship, negation of democracy, are strongly condemned, and will be vigorously confronted.
C. FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS
27. There shall be an independent, autonomous, and impartial election commission. The prime minister shall in consultation with leader of opposition forward up to three names for each position of chief election commissioner, members of election commission, and secretary to joint parliamentary committee, constituted on the same pattern as for appointment of judges in superior judiciary, through transparent public hearing process. In case of no consensus, both prime minister and leader of opposition shall forward separate lists to the joint parliamentary committee for consideration. Provincial election commissioner shall be appointed on the same pattern by committees of respective provincial assemblies.
28. All contesting political parties will be ensured a level playing field in the elections by the release of all political prisoners and the unconditional return of all political exiles. Elections shall be open to all political parties and political personalities. The graduation requirement of eligibility which has led to corruption and fake degrees will be repealed.
29. Local body’s elections will be held within three months of the holding of general elections.
30. The concerned election authority shall suspend and appoint neutral administrators for all local bodies from the date of formation of a caretaker government for holding of general elections till the elections are held.
31. There shall be a neutral caretaker government to hold free, fair, and transparent elections. The members of the said government and their immediate relatives shall not contest elections.
D. CIVIL – MILITARY RELATIONS
32. The ISI, MI and other security agencies shall be accountable to the elected government through Prime Minister Sectt, Ministry of Defence, and Cabinet Division respectively. Their budgets will be approved by DCC after recommendations are prepared by the respective ministry. The political wings of all intelligence agencies will be disbanded. A committee will be formed to cut waste and bloat in the armed forces and security agencies in the interest of the defence and security of the country. All senior postings in these agencies shall be made with the approval of the government through respective ministry.
33. All indemnities and savings introduced by military regimes in the constitution shall be reviewed.
34. Defence budget shall be placed before the parliament for debate and approval.
35. Military land allotment and cantonment jurisdictions will come under the purview of defence ministry. A commission shall be set up to review, scrutinize, and examine the legitimacy of all such land allotment rules, regulations, and policies, along with all cases of state land allotment including those of military urban and agricultural land allotments since 12 October, 1999 to hold those accountable who have indulged in malpractices, profiteering, and favoritism.
36. Rules of business of the federal and provincial governments shall be reviewed to bring them in conformity with parliamentary form of government.
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