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Full text of the 18th Amendment Bill

The National Assembly of Pakistan has now made public the full text of the 18th Amendment Bill, which is currently under review in the parliament. We are uploading a PDF version of the full text on LUBP for the benefit of those readers who would like to offer their comments and suggestions in view of the full text.

The document comprises 133 pages including 102 clauses and related appendices and attachments (terms of reference, notes of reiteration and dissent etc).

The proposed 18th amendment is being seen as a landmark step by all political parties (represented in the parliament) on achieving consensus in reforming the constitution. Issues of provincial autonomy, mandatory education for children, increased representation of religious minorities in the Senate, transparent appointment of judges and chief election commissioner, repeal of 58(2)b to bolster the parliamentary nature of the constitution, renaming of the NWFP to Khyer Pakhtoonkhwa etc have been addressed; some of these reforms are much broader and inclusive in scope than the original 1973 constitution.

You can download the 18th amendment bill through the following link:

18th Amendment Bill – Full Text

Related article:
Removing the only good thing Zia-ul Haq added to the Constitution!

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  • President Asif Ali Zardari summoned both the National Assembly and Senate on Saturday for what are billed to be their historic sessions beginning on Tuesday to adopt landmark constitutional reforms aimed to restore a genuine parliamentary system in the country.

    In calling the sessions, which will also mark the beginning of new parliamentary years of the two houses after a mandatory presidential address to their joint sitting on Monday, the two-year-old PPP-led coalition government seemed keen not to waste any more time to accomplish what will likely be the most important achievement of its five-year tenure.

    The new sessions will come only four days after the two houses received amendments proposed in the report of an all-party Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms on Friday before their prorogation.

    A committee-proposed Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Bill, which seeks to amend 97 articles of the Constitution mainly to remove distortions introduced by two previous military dictators, must be passed by a two-thirds majority in both the 342-seat National Assembly and the 100-seat Senate.

    Copies of the 102-clause bill copies were attached to those of the report presented before the two houses on Friday by committee chairman and PPP Senator Raza Rabbani, but that did not mean its formal introduction required to go through parliamentary procedures, which will happen first in the National Assembly—possibly on Tuesday—and later, after the bill’s passage by the lower houses, in the Senate.

    Parliamentary sources said neither house will take long to pass the bill because of an existing consensus of all parties in parliament on the reforms…,-senate-to-take-up-constitution-reform-bill-440-hh-05

  • Bill of hope

    The travails of democracy received an encouraging turnaround with the tabling of the 18th Amendment Bill in parliament the other day. The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms steered by Senator Raza Rabbani spent 385 hours stretching over 77 meetings since it was set up in June last year deliberating the constitution clause by clause. A marathon labour indeed. Their recommendations as reflected in the consensus on the bill will hit 100 Articles. The essential thrust of all these changes is to repeal the distortions introduced by military dictators, return power to parliament and the prime minister where it rightfully belongs in a parliamentary democracy, and block the way for future adventurers and coup makers. Article 6, which defines high treason, will now include strictures against anyone justifying a military takeover, including the judiciary. The infamous Article 58(2)(b) introduced by hated dictator Ziaul Haq via the 8th Amendment stands done away with. The power to dissolve the assemblies will now rest with the leader of the house, as it should, unless a vote of confidence is passed against the incumbent, in which case the President (or the Governors in the provinces) will dissolve. Caretaker prime ministers and chief ministers will be appointed with the consultation of the outgoing treasury and opposition. Cabinets will be restricted in size to 11 percent of the size of the assembly. Local governments will achieve constitutional cover, despite the abolition of Schedules six and seven, under which the 17th Amendment had placed them. The Council of Common Interests, now to be headed by the prime minister, has been rescued from the morbidity to which it had been confined. Chief Election Commissioners will be appointed through consultation between the treasury and the opposition. The procedure for appointment of superior court judges has been broadened, institutionalised, and made transparent. With the abolition of the Concurrent List, the provinces will be further empowered. NWFP can celebrate its new name, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Last but mot least, free compulsory education for children between the ages of five and 16 has finally arrived, at least at the legislative level.

    With the strengthening of parliament, the provinces, local governments, dispute resolution amongst the provinces and with the centre, transparent appointments of chief election commissioners and the superior judiciary, the citizens of Pakistan can draw a sigh of relief and feel justly proud of the consensus-building inherent capability of a democracy, the odd hiccup notwithstanding. This is an all too rare moment to celebrate in our national life, and it would be best to let bygones be bygones and not labour the respective contributions (negative and positive) of all the parties to this historic compact.

    No doubt the consensus was not easily achieved, and even after it was conceded, at least 11 dissenting notes have been recorded, although the dissenters mercifully agreed to let the Amendment Bill go through.

    Hopefully the bill will now have a relatively smooth passage through parliament and pass onto the statute books without any unnecessary delay. Pakistan will then have truly turned a corner from a sorry history of military dictatorship and authoritarian dispensations to proudly take its place in the panoply of democratic countries. Today, Pakistanis can hold their head up high and remember the sacrifices rendered by successive generations to let the light of representative, civilian democratic governance shine through.\04\04\story_4-4-2010_pg3_1

  • The Greatest Moment in Pakistani Democracy

    This week may very well be remembered in Pakistan as the greatest point in the restoration of democracy in its 63 year history. Yesterday, after a year long legislative effort led by President Asif Ali Zardari and his Pakistan Peoples Party in the National Assembly of Pakistan, agreement was finally reached on the most dramatic and sweeping constitutional changes in Pakistan’s history, restoring the 1973 Pakistani Constitution, which created a Pakistani parliamentary democracy based on the British Westminster model. The 1973 Constitution had been perverted by the actions of two military dictators, Generals Zia ul Haq and Pervez Musharraf by stripping power from Parliament and creating a powerful extra-constitutional Presidential system, centralizing political power into their own hands after their respective coup d’états. The National Assembly and the Senate of Pakistan, meeting in Islamabad of undoing this tragedy by making our constitution whole and uniting our country across provinces, ethnicities and politics. What makes this even more remarkable is that the process was initiated and has been directed by the current President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari. This may be the first time in recorded history that a national leader willingly sacrificed his own political power for the sake of restoring constitutional, democratic rule of law. The Parliamentary Committee, created at the request of the President last year, not only voted to restore the powers of Parliament, but also to depoliticize the judicial appointment process by creating multipartisan judicial selection. This too was another example of Zardari willingly directing that powers held by the president be returned to the National Assembly.

    As the world fully understands, Pakistan has had a difficult path to sustained democracy since its creation in 1947. Events since the toppling of the elected democratic government of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977 and his subsequent judicial murder, have been particularly painful and destabilizing for my nation. Military dictators General Zia ul Haq and General Pervez Musharraf played havoc with the constitution and our state institutions. General Musharraf’s assault on the constitution is fresh in the memory of the Pakistani nation. Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan in October 2007 and her sacrifice of her own life for the liberty of our people gave the nation the strength to face down the Musharraf dictatorship and to ensure a peaceful return to democracy as a result of the February 2008 elections.

    Yet democratic elections alone have not fully restored democracy in Pakistan. That true resurrection of our democratic institutions and the strengthening of our democratic infrastructure was dependent on the restoration of the 1973 constitution. The restoration of the 1973 Constitution, and the aberration of those clauses that usurped power from the parliament into the hands of military dictators who had self-anointed themselves as President, was the most central plank of the Pakistan Peoples Party platform drafted by our late beloved leader Benazir Bhutto before her assassination in 2007. Although she never lived to see her dream achieved, the honor of removing the remnants of dictatorship in Pakistan has been bestowed on the democratically elected PPP government under the stewardship of Zardari. Under his leadership, the Constitution is being restored with the support and participation of all major political forces in the country. And by decentralizing critical powers to Pakistan’s four great provinces, the reform package is fundamentally strengthening the Pakistani federation.

    Contrary to those who would belittle him, Asif Zardari is hardly a recent convert to the restoration of the 1973 Constitution. President Zardari had planned to complete the transition to democracy and to return the country to the foundations of the 1973 constitution from his first day in office. During his address to the joint sitting of the parliament last year, he advised the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Fahmida Mirza, to immediately form a constitutional committee comprising representatives of all political forces in the parliament to look at not only doing away with the arbitrary amendments including the infamous 17th amendment inserted by the dictator but also to settle the question of provincial autonomy according to the wishes of the federating units. He called upon his party in Parliament to enact a package of constitutional reforms as quickly as possible.

    Irrespective of what his detractors may like to say, the fact is that Zardari has ungrudgingly consented, as was his original promise and intention, to forgo the powers conferred on the President under the 17th amendment thus implementing the public commitment of his wife and of our Party. He is not being “stripped of his power” as some have characterized it either out of ignorance or mischief, but rather has been in the vanguard of democratic change. The constitutional committee that was created at his request, specifically for this purpose, has completed its job and the reform package will be put before the National Assembly on Thursday and the Senate on Friday.

    As a Pakistani, a lawyer and a former Pakistani army officer, I am proud of the steps my country has taken to strengthen our democracy through bold institutional reform. This is truly one of the greatest achievements in the history of our Nation. And whether one personally likes him or not, the full credit for the implementation of this central plank of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s commitment to our nation belongs to the president of our country, Asif Ali Zardari. His actions are both historic and unprecedented, what John Kennedy would have called a “profile in courage.”


  • Another very very important point. Article 63(l) has been removed which disqualified anyone with a past conviction on illegal or corrupt practices from being a member of the Parliament. Now any person with a corruption laden background can become a member of parliament. Someone needs to tell the Media to read things and tell the public about them as they stand.

  • One of the amendments changes the tenure of the auditor general from five years to four years. I wonder if it shall be applicable to the present auditor general who took oath for five years and his four years shall be completing in november.

  • They’ve done it. Proving all the naysayers wrong, dismissing all the conspiracy theorists, rejecting all those who would be spoilers, the National Assembly of Pakistan has approved a constitution that for the first time in decades will have the broad support of the people’s elected representatives.

    Such was the bonhomie in the house yesterday that regular watchers of parliament may have rubbed their eyes in disbelief: was that really Chaudhry Nisar, leader of the opposition, the PML-N attacker-in-chief, a seemingly perennially angry man, praising the PPP co-chairman, President Asif Ali Zardari? Yes, it was. It was that kind of a day. A historic day in Pakistan’s parliamentary history, one that the MNAs deserve a heartfelt thanks for.

    And yet the 18th Amendment is neither the panacea that its proponents suggest it is, nor will it transform Pakistan’s polity unless implemented with sincerity and purpose. There are four broad areas that this constitutional amendment package addresses: the repeal of the 17th Amendment; enhancement of provincial autonomy; the appointment process for the superior judiciary; and ‘other’ issues. That is a sizeable agenda and necessitated nearly 100 clauses of the 280-article constitution to be amended. But many big issues were never put on the table. For example, the Islamic clauses gratuitously inserted by Gen Zia in the constitution were not touched and the colonial-era status of Fata was not looked at. Perhaps the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms headed by Raza Rabbani should not be disbanded and should instead be allowed to work on the next raft of changes that are needed. Consider that the security threat that has radiated from Fata is unprecedented in the country’s history and yet the committee did not see fit to amend its constitutional status at this stage. In fact, even the relatively minor changes (allowing political parties to participate in elections, for example) promised by the president have not yet been signed into law by the NWFP governor. The security challenge in Fata has to be dealt with by more than just guns and money — the ‘wild west’ political status of the place is part of the reason that the area has become the greatest threat to internal security.

    Democracies must necessarily be forward-looking. To suggest that more needs to be done at this stage is not to detract from the historic achievement of the present parliament. Mr Rabbani and his committee have done a phenomenal job — which is all the more reason to keep them together and set them to work on the next set of constitutional reforms. ‘Do more’ in this context is not a quibble; it is the essence of democracy.

    With a rare unanimity that made a parliamentary revolution, the National Assembly on Thursday passed landmark constitutional reforms aimed to restore a genuine parliamentary system in the country.

    All 292 members present finally voted for the Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Bill drafted by an all-party parliamentary committee after separate positive votes cast for each of its 102 clauses ranged between 255 and 289.

    This was much more than the required 228 votes, or two-thirds majority of the 342-seat house, thanks to a broad consensus of political parties, though a clause changing the name of the North-West Frontier Province to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa produced some fireworks and a mini-mutiny in the main opposition party, the PML-N.

    While three seats of the house are vacant, the vote showed 47 members were absent from the sitting.

    The bill, which, besides other changes, seeks to transfer some key presidential powers to parliament, enhance provincial autonomy and repeal the controversial Musharraf-era 17th Amendment, will now go to the 100-seat Senate, which too must pass it with a two-thirds majority before it is signed by President Asif Ali Zardari to be put into effect.

  • Approves 18th Amendment Bill 2010
    Its really good news for Pakistani peoples, politicians, parliament, and government.
    I appreciated to all who efforts for this. Addressing the National Assembly session, PM said “Today all stakeholders are on one pitch. The President, the Prime Minister, Supreme Court and the Parliament are working in complete harmony and it is the biggest dividend of reconciliatory politics,”. Keep it up and also solve the problem of load shading. Pakistan Zinda bad

  • The substantive changes merit detailed comment and can’t even be listed here exhaustively. But if one were to identity the four most consequential, they would be (i) introduction of the fundamental right to education, (ii) move towards realising the promise of effective provincial autonomy, (iii) strengthening the independence of judiciary and (iv) transferring discretionary powers of the president back to the prime minister. The new Article 25A obliges the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children between ages five and fifteen. This is by itself an epochal change marking an overdue yet necessary first step to unlock the potential of Pakistan’s youth. In a country with half the population below the age of 18, genuine and effective budgetary and administrative measures to ensure that each and every citizen receives free high school education could foster a social revolution.

    To further provincial autonomy, the 18th Amendment proposes to enhance the fiscal, administrative and legislative authority of the federating units. By erasing the concurrent legislative list, granting provinces greater control over their natural resources and proceeds, enhancing the role of the Senate and the Council of Common Interests, making it harder for the president to clamp emergency rule over a province and requiring that governors be residents of their respective provinces, the PCCR has begun implementing the promise made to provinces in 1973 and rejected the doomsday predictions of ensuing chaos due to a loosening of the centre’s control. How effectively provincial assemblies will use the exclusive authority to write laws on subjects listed in the concurrent list (which they previously shared with the centre) is debatable. But this change was essential symbolically as the demand for greater provincial autonomy in Pakistan had become tied to abolition of the concurrent list.

    The PCCR had paid attention to practical matters by (i) including some concurrent list subjects within Part II of the federal legislative list, (ii) enhancing the role of the Council of Common Interests in relation to subjects of shared legislative interest between the centre and provinces, (iii) protecting existing federal laws related to concurrent list subjects, and (iv) appointing an Implementation Commission to oversee the transition over the next year. But there is no doubt that with empowerment comes responsibility. The provinces will have greater control over their fate and fortune. But they will need to quickly acquire the ability and the mindset to optimally exercise their legislative and administrative authority to protect and benefit their citizens. Otherwise the gap in the quality of life afforded to residents of various provinces could increase instead of narrowing.

    And in this regard the role of the Implementation Commission will be crucial. The transfer of authority from the presently bloated federal government to the provinces is a huge administrative and legislative project, which will require introduction of new provincial departments and new and amending legislation. To guarantee that the promise of provincial autonomy doesn’t turn sour, the Implementation Commission must be appropriately empowered and headed by someone as fair-minded, diligent and capable as Raza Rabbani.

    Historic indeed
    The News, April 10, 2010
    By Babar Sattar

  • The provisions of the 18th Amendment Bill can be divided into three major categories. Some amendments are based on the provisions of the Charter of Democracy (CoD). Most provisions of the 17th Amendment (2003) are being repealed or modified; some of its provisions have been retained. Several new amendments were proposed by the PCCR that do not relate to the above-mentioned two categories. These include a change in Article 6 regarding high treason, provincial autonomy, and the share of the provinces in natural resources, including coastline resources.

    It is noteworthy that the reforms committee retained most provisions of the 8th Amendment inserted in 1985 by parliament on the initiative of the military government of General Ziaul Haq. His government increased emphasis on Islam as part of his effort to appease the conservative and orthodox Islamic clergy and their followers. General Ziaul Haq’s Islam-oriented constitutional provisions were the inclusion of the Objectives Resolution in the main text of the constitution, establishment of the Federal Shariat Court and the Shariat Appellate Bench in the Supreme Court, and religion and ethnic-based vague eligibility criteria for candidates in parliamentary elections. The committee did not go into these provisions to avoid confrontation with religious political parties that continue to support General Zia’s Islamisation.

    The most innovative change relates to the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, neutralising the chief justice’s acquired power to make binding recommendations for appointment. This power was acquired by the chief justice through different judgements starting with the 1996 judgement in the judges’ case. The constitution did not make the recommendation of the chief justice binding on the president. There was a long consultative process that left discretion to the president. In practice, both the chief justice and the presidency accommodated each other on appointments through consultations. This procedure caused political controversies and the superior judiciary used its judgements to increase its hold on the appointments procedure. The Legal Framework Order (LFO) issued by the military government of General Pervez Musharraf (2002) acknowledged the primacy of the chief justice in the appointments process. However, some of the recent appointments by the chief justice after a standoff with the president were subjected to criticism by a section of lawyers and the media for being skewed by non-professional considerations.

    The new procedure for the appointment of judges of the superior judiciary assigns the power to a judicial commission of seven people headed by the chief justice. It also includes two senior judges of the Supreme Court, the attorney general, the federal law minister, one representative of the designated bar council and a retired judge of the Supreme Court. Its recommendations are subject to a time-bound review of a joint parliamentary committee that would have equal representation of the government and the opposition.

    A section of lawyer activists are critical of the proposed procedure and want the chief justice to continue exercising the exclusive power to appoint judges. They maintain that the change in the appointments procedure amounts to changing the ‘basic structure’ of the constitution, which parliament is not authorised to do. They are hoping that the Supreme Court would use the ‘basic structure’ argument to knock out this procedure and thus protect the powers of the chief justice.

    The 1973 Constitution neither assigns superiority to some articles over the others nor does it restrict the power of parliament to amend it through the prescribed procedure. Therefore, the argument of the ‘basic structure’ has no basis in the constitution and parliament has the sole power to amend the constitution.

    Even if we go by the basic structure argument, the basic features of the constitution are an Islamic republic, parliamentary democracy, federalism and independence of the judiciary. It is parliament that decides about the ways and means to protect and promote these attributes. These methods can change over time. For example, the18th Amendment envisages far more powers to the provinces. Does this mean that the basic structure of the federation as written down in the original constitution has been violated? The answer is ‘no’. Pakistan remains a federation, but the operationalisation of this principle has been updated to meet the changed situation.

    The primacy of the elected parliament needs to be respected. Judicial activism cannot be used to infringe the domain of the elected parliament and, especially, to question its powers to amend the constitution. The new procedure for appointment of judges is more transparent and consultative, giving a pre-eminent role rather than sole power to the chief justice. The judiciary’s independence is not affected by this amendment. Pakistan needs an independent rather than a dominant judiciary.

    Amending the constitution —Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi\04\11\story_11-4-2010_pg3_2

  • 18th amendment is a landmark in the history of Pakistan after era of Zulfikar Bhutto that all the democratic forces stood on the same ground and made this achievement of constitutional development that hopefully will serve the purpose of safeguarding democratic process and set the tone for pro-people developmental process and resolve the issues of unemployment, unavailability of safe drinking water, low rate of female enrollment in primary schooling in rural areas, ghost Basic Health Units / RHCs in rural areas, poverty and unhealthy trends of sectarianism & militancy.

  • althogh the consensus among all parties over 18th ammendment is landmark step in the political development of Pakistan but we can gain benefit only when it is implemented in true letter and spirit

  • The eighteen amendment is a step towards federation and a good sign for small provinces like kpk and balochistan.

  • […] from the people, opposition parties and also to implement constitutional provisions after the eighteenth amendment, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani will show door to fifteen Ministers soon. Dismal performance or […]

  • best of luck pakistan.
    become a good pakistani.
    One of the amendments changes the tenure of the auditor general from five years to four years. I wonder if it shall be applicable to the present auditor general who took oath for five years and his four years shall be completing in november

  • What will be the negative impact of 18th amendment on the provinces in chapter of electricty.

    It only talk that Federal Govt will consult provices in construction of hydel project

    Will it restrict the provinces to establish projects in private sector?

    Can any one respond immediately.



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  • 18th amendment laid the foundations of the subversion of human rights of the common man as well as way to the further balkanization of pakistan