Left to Right: Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Founder of Pakistan) -  Mr Asif Ali Zardari (President) - Mr Yousaf Raza Gilani(Prime Minister)

Government of Pakistan

The official name is "The Islamic Republic of Pakistan". A country with 150 million people (97% Muslims) is located in South Asia and borders India, Iran, Afghanistan, China and the Arabian Sea. Population wise it is the sixth most populous country in the world, while in the community of Islamic countries it ranks second after Indonesia. An important member of the OIC, SAARC and ECO. Pakistan is also one of the few declared nuclear weapons states.

Officially a federal republic, with a history of military takeovers due to inept and corrupt politicians who made fortunes out of the meager resources of the country and at the cost of much needed development and its poor people. Its membership from the Commonwealth was suspended after the take over of the reins of the government by Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf in October 199. However, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group re-admitted Pakistan into the Commonwealth, formally acknowledging its progress in returning to democracy in May 2004. However it was again expelled from the organization after the president imposed emergency in November 2007 and suspended the sitting CJ of the Supreme Court - an issue which at present is ahead of every issue and a deadline of 12 May has been given for restoration of judges - the nations sits with fingers crossed.

Pakistan is a federal republic with a semi-presidential system, with four autonomous Provinces – Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab, and NWFP (North West Frontier Province) in addition to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Federal Capital Territory. Pakistan also exercises de facto control over the state of Azad Kashmir (Azad meaning Free in Urdu) and the Northern Areas.

The bicameral federal legislature comprises the 100-member Senate (with seats equally distributed among the provinces and the FATA and the capital) and the 342-member National Assembly (both chambers have reserved seats for women and religious minorities). Senators are elected for six-year terms (with half retiring every three years), whilst members of the National Assembly are elected for five-year terms. The President of Pakistan is the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and is elected for a five-year term by the Electoral College of Pakistan – comprising the Senate, the National Assembly, and the four Provincial Assemblies. The President’s appointment and term are constitutionally independent of the Prime Minister’s term.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly, and is assisted by a cabinet of ministers drawn from both chambers of the federal legislature.

The present National Assembly elections were held in February 2008 and a coalition government has been in place of two major parties, i.e., PPP and PML (N). The previous government of Mr Shaukat Aziz and his party PML (Q), which was the only government in Pakistan to have sustained its full 5years' tenure was badly mauled in the recent elections and are now in opposition. The choice of the prime minister by co-chairperson Mr Asif Ali Zardari for Mr Yousaf Raza Gilani instead of an old stalwart Makhdoom Amin Fahim created a stir in the political life of Pakistan, but had since subsided and new government under new PM is in place. In an presidential election held on 6 September 08, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairperson of the PPP, was elected as the 13th president of Pakistan.

One notable outcome was the elections 2002 was election of 91 women to Parliament – the largest number (and the largest percentage) of women in the parliament of any Muslim-majority country.

Each province has a Provincial Assembly elected for five year terms through competitive multi-party elections, and which in turn elects a Chief Minister – the executive head of the province. The Chief Minister nominates the governor and the Provincial Assembly ratifies the nominee for a five year term.

Related Sites: | GOP Official Site | Country Study | Infoplease - Pakistan | BBC's Pakistan  | Other Related Sites | The National Assembly |   

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This page was created on 1 January 2005