New Year gift of democracy: Zardari ratifies 19th Amendment

Fresh legislation made in the spirit of consensus as seen during the framing of the 1973 constitution.

Express January 02, 2011


President Asif Ali Zardari signed the 19th constitutional amendment into law on Saturday, calling it a constitutional milestone for the country and a testament to the maturity of its signatory parties.

Addressing a gathering after signing the bill, Zardari said the legislation – which lays down a new system for appointment of superior court judges – was “a New Year’s gift of democracy” for the nation since it was aimed at eliminating a potential source of discord between the judiciary and parliament.

He said the new law proved that history is “made through political foresight” – referring to the amendment bill’s unanimous approval by the Senate and its two-thirds majority vote in the National Assembly.

The president also underscored the need for consensus across the political spectrum on all laws. “Amendments that are bulldozed through parliament rarely last long but those brought about by consensus usually withstand the vicissitudes of time and political wrangling,” the president was quoted by his spokesperson Farhatullah Babar as saying. Both the 18th and 19th amendments were passed with the same spirit of national consensus that was demonstrated by political parties in adopting the 1973 Constitution under the leadership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he said. Zardari brushed aside rumours of an impending clash between institutions,  blaming “political actors” for whipping up negative sentiments and vowing that such efforts were bound to fail.

Babar quoted the president as saying that the 18th and 19th amendments had undone changes made in the 1973 Constitution by military dictator General Ziaul Haq – and fulfilled one of the missions of Benazir Bhutto.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Raza Rabbani heaped praise on the president for voluntarily handing over his powers to parliament and bucking the trend followed by successive holders of the president’s office. Rabbani described the adoption of the 19th amendment by parliament as a historical move and a triumph for parliamentary democracy.

Under the new law, the number of senior judges as judicial commission members has been raised to four, while the number of parliamentary committee members for the appointment of the chief election commissioner has been increased to 12.

The chief justice of the Supreme Court will make recommendations for the appointment of ad hoc judges in the superior courts in consultation with the judicial commission. In case of the dissolution of the National Assembly, members of the parliamentary committee will only be from the Senate. The amendment also permits sanctioning of administrative and financial expenses of the Islamabad High Court. It also makes it incumbent for bar council members to have at least 15 years of experience for appointment to the judicial commission.

The signing ceremony, which was held at the Bilawal House, was attended by Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek, National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan, Leader of the House in Senate Nayyar Hussein Bokhari and Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2011.


Munawar Ali | 10 years ago | Reply Bravo Zardari!!! May Almighty Allah shower His all blessings upon you so that you live a long life and emerge as the most successful President of Pakistan. You are the only ONE who started the presidency by laying down your own powers. This, by no means, a small thing, you made examples for the so many democratic federations of the world. We now breath not in a congested environment of dictatorship in which there used to be the political prisoner, lust for powers and no maturity in term of deciding about the future direction of the state. You have started a journey of clearing the mess of 63 years and surely this will take time, but once this mess is cleaned out, the rapids benefits will off-course reach out to the masses! Though journey is difficult, but never impossible!! May Almighty bless you Presidency till 2023, you really deserve upcoming two periods!! Regards: Munawar Ali-Islamabad
Ravi | 10 years ago | Reply I was just reading the achievements of government in the year 2010, what i noticed is that no decision was taken in the interest of a common man. All the decisions were limited to either prime minister house or the presidency. While we were given is the gift of increased fuel prices, electricity, very high inflation rates, increasing discount rates, drone attacks, very very high crime rates, very high abduction rates, increasing casualties through bomb blasts, one of the worst blasts in karachi, abducting girls and gang raping them in the safest area of karachi (DHA), high corruption in watan cards, high corruption in Hajj pilgrims related issues and what not man. I guess this is the preliminary list. But I believe Pakistan will emerge as the best country soon. Atleast I hope.
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