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Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History

Prime Minister & Cabinet

In this parliamentary system, the President is a ceremonial figurehead as the real authority lies with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

Overview

Prime Minister Cabinet 1
Nawaz Sharif, current Prime Minister
(Express Tribune)

The Constitution declares that executive authority of the Federation is to be exercised by the Prime Minister and the Federal Ministers acting in the name of the President. In this parliamentary system, the President is a ceremonial figurehead since the real authority lies with the Prime Minister, who is the Chief Executive of the State.

The Prime Minister heads the Cabinet, which has the task of assisting the Prime Minister in the exercise of his executive authority. Although there is no fixed number of Ministers provided, only 25% can come from the Senate and the total strength cannot exceed 11% of the total membership of the Parliament.

Procedure of election

First, the Prime Minister is elected through majority voting in the popularly elected National Assembly; there is no restriction on the number of terms for this office. Generally, the leader of the party (or coalition) with majority in the National Assembly becomes the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister then advises the President on the appointment of Cabinet Ministers, Federal Ministers and Ministers of State from the Parliament to assist him/her in running government operations.

The new Cabinet was announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in June 2013. All members of this Cabinet belong to PML-N.

Qualifications

The Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State are required to be members of Parliament and hence, all qualifications for becoming a member of Parliament apply to them. They are collectively answerable to both Houses for their actions.

Powers

Prime Minister Cabinet 2
Prime Minister in Cabinet meeting
(Dunya News)

As the Chief Executive of the State, the Prime Minister along with Ministers, is responsible for running the government of the country. This executive authority extends to all matters with respect to which the Parliament can make laws, including areas outside Pakistan. In the performance of his/her functions under the Constitution, the Prime Minster may either act directly, or through the Ministers to do the following:

  • Aid and advise the President in exercise of functions. The President is required to act in accordance with such advice; his/her discretion only extends to matters in which he is empowered by the Constitution to do so.
  • Keep the President informed on all matters pertaining to internal and foreign policy and on all legislative proposals to be presented before the Parliament.
  • Advise the President in making various key appointments including: Governors of the four provinces, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, military appointments (Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Chief of the Army Staff, Chief of the Naval Staff and Chief of the Air Staff).
  • Chair important constitutional institutions like the National Economic Council, which is the chief financial planning body in the country and the Council of Common Interests, which is responsible for resolving center-province disputes.
  • Cause a matter of national importance to be referred to a referendum, if the suggestion to conduct it is approved by the Parliament.
  • As the leader of the House, i.e. National Assembly,enjoys a right to speak in the Parliament and take part in the proceedings of either House,but this does not include the right to vote.
  • Advise the President to dissolve the National Assembly when needed.

Duration of tenure

The Prime Minister is elected for a term of 5 years. He/she may earlier tender resignation to the President or be removed democratically if he/she loses confidence of the majority of the members of the National Assembly. In this case, a resolution for a vote of no-confidence is to be moved by not less than 20% of the total membership of the National Assembly. If the resolution is passed by majority of the total membership of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister immediately relinquishes power.

Primary sources

Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973

Find out more

Websites

Elections.com.pk: Prime Ministers


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