The President’s powers are pre-dominantly ceremonial in nature, expected to act in accordance with the Prime Minister’s advice rather than to his/her own discretion.
Last Updated: 27 Nov. 2014
The President of Pakistan is a ceremonial Head of State, a symbol of the Republic’s unity. The individual is indirectly elected by an Electoral College comprising the National Assembly, Senate and four Provincial Assemblies.
In order to qualify for presidential elections, a person must be:
- A Muslim
- Forty-five or more years of age
- Qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly
The President cannot hold any office of profit in the service of Pakistan. Furthermore, he/she cannot occupy any other position holding the right to remuneration for rendering of any such services.
The President may summon either or both the Houses of Parliament for a joint sitting at such time and place as he/she renders appropriate. He/she may address either or both Houses and may demand the attendance of all members for this purpose. If the President is convinced that the surfacing of certain circumstances necessitates immediate action then provided that the Senate or the National Assembly is not in session, he/she is empowered to promulgate an Ordinance i.e. a temporary law that lapses after a few months if not approved by the Parliament within a given time period.
As the Head of State, the supreme command of the Armed Forces lies with the President, who can issue a Proclamation of Emergency on account of war, internal disturbance, conflict, etc. Another important power awarded to the President is the power or ability to grant pardon. He/she may condone or reduce any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or any other authority. Moreover, the President enjoys a controversial right, known as presidential immunity, which protects him/her from civil and criminal proceedings during his term of office.
The President is responsible for making certain key appointments including:
- Governors of the four provinces
- Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court
- Chief Election Commissioner
- Members of National Finance Commission
- Members of National Economic Council
- Members of Council of Common Interests
- Chief of the Army Staff
- Chief of the Naval Staff
- Chief of the Air Staff
The President may ask the Prime Minister to brief him/her on any administrative matter of the country. Further, the Prime Minister is required to keep him informed on all matters pertaining to internal and foreign policy and on all legislative proposals to be presented before the Parliament. However, the President is required to exercise his/her functions only in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister or the Cabinet. Even when passing decisions on the most integral matters, such as the decision on the crucial appointments stated above, the President is supposed to give greater importance to the Prime Minister’s suggestions rather than his own preferences. The President’s personal discretion extends only to matters with respect to which he is empowered by the Constitution. Thus, the President’s powers are pre-dominantly ceremonial in nature.
The President is elected for a term of 5 years. Although he/she can be re-elected, he/she cannot hold office for more than 2 consecutive terms. He/she may resign or be removed from office on the grounds of physical or mental incapacity. Similarly, the President may be impeached, after a vote by two-thirds of the total members of the Parliament, if he is charged with the violation of the Constitution or gross misconduct.