Pakistan (official name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan) is a Federal republic based on parliamentary democracy. Military plays a dominating role in country's politics and effectively quasi-dictatorship exits in the country.
President is the chief of state and is elected by the parliament for a five-year term. President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Though President is supposed to have a largely ceremonial role but military Presidents have played an influential role in country's mainstream politics throughout Pakistan's history. Prime Minister is elected by the lower house of the parliament through a vote for a five-year term. Prime Minister is the head of the government and enjoys the executive powers which include implementation of the law and running the day-to-day affairs of the country. The council of ministers (cabinet) is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The legislature in Pakistan is bicameral. The parliament consists of: Senate (the upper house) having 100 seats, with its members indirectly elected by provincial assemblies to serve six-year terms; and National Assembly (the lower house) having 342 seats, with its members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. President can be impeached and removed from its office by two-third majority vote of the National Assembly, but the constitution of the country also gives the President the unique power to dissolve the National Assembly and also to dismiss the Prime Minister. Prime Minister cannot dissolve the parliament . The people of Pakistan have very limited political rights.
Judiciary is not independent in Pakistan; it is influenced by politicians, government officials and Islamic extremists. The main source of the law in the country is the constitution of 1973 which has been suspended and restored with amendments many times. The country's legal system is based on English common law with provisions to accommodate Pakistan's status as an Islamic state. Pakistan accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction but with reservations. Urdu and English are the two judicial languages used in Pakistan.
The rule of law is weakly enforced in the country. Foreign nationals cannot expect a fair trial from the country's judicial system. The country is plagued by corruption. It is pervasive at almost all levels of politics and government and condition appears to be worsening.
Major political parties
Pakistan has a multi-party system in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties work with each other to form coalition governments. Some of the major political parties in the country are:
- PML(Q) (Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam) - centrist conservative political party derived from the original Pakistan Muslim League which had laid foundation of the state of Pakistan;
- PPPP(Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarian) – a mainstream political party derived out of Pakistan Peoples Party, MMA (Muttahhida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan) - a coalition of Islamic religious parties;
- PLM-N (Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz group) – also derived from the original Pakistan Muslim League;
- MQM (Muhajir Qaumi Movement) - originally an ethnic student’s organization but now more known for its terrorist activites.
Major political leaders
President: General Pervez MUSHARRAF (since June 2001) – seized power via a military coup in 1999
Prime Minister: Mohammadmian SOOMRO (since November 2007)
Next political election dates
Presidential: Year 2012
Senate: March 2009
National Assembly: February 18, 2008