Constitutional Amendments in Pakistan in Brief

Constitutional Amendments in Pakistan in Brief

Written by Miss Bakhtawar Zulfiqar

No democracy, on the face of earth, can have so rigid constitution that cannot be moulded according to the needs of time. Pakistan’s constitution, being no exception, has undergone frequent and comprehensive changes in the form of constitutional amendments. Although the 1973 Constitution expressed the desire to push the military back to its traditional role but the trend of authority politics remained constant. History of constitutional amendments can be divided into Six phases. These phases represent major shifts into the political system of Pakistan.   

First Phase; Parliamentary democracy

When the 1973 constitution was promulgated with a balanced parliamentary democracy.

Second Phase; Derailed parliamentary system under autocratic Prime Minister

When, the under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ‘s influence, seven constitutional amendments were made within four years. After these amendments even the parliament became helpless.

Third Phase; Semi-Presidential system

General Zia through 8th amendment gave unlimited powers to the president.

Fourth Phase; Parliamentary democratic republic system

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif again restricted the powers of President through 13th amendment, and hands of PM got more strength through 14th amendment.

Fifth Phase; Semi-Presidential system

Musharraf again made the president centre of power through 17th amendment in the constitution.

Sixth and current Phase; Parliamentary Democracy

Under the historical 18th amendment, parliamentary democracy has restored and autonomy has given to the provinces.

For better understanding, a gist of all twenty-six amendments to the constitution of Islamic Republic Pakistan is given below.

Sr#AmendmentsEnactment date
1stRedefined border of Pakistan. Removing references to East Pakistan.May 4,1974
2ndDefinition of a Muslim. Declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslim.September 7,1974
3rdExtension in the period of preventive detention.February 18,1975
4thSeats for Minority and deprived the courts of the power to grant bail in preventive detention.November 21,1975
5thRestriction on High Courts increased.September 5,1976
6thRetirement age of Chief Justice of Supreme Court set at 65 and of High Court set at 62.This amendment in the constitution was made to favour then Chief Justice who was supposed to be a friend of Bhutto.December 22,1976
7thVote of Confidence can be obtained by Prime Minister from the people.May 16,1977
8thParliamentary system is changed into Semi-presidential system by giving more power to the President.November 11,1985
9thShariah Law was passed by the Senate but could not be implemented because National Assembly was dissolved.1985
10thSession of National Assembly not to exceed 130 days.March 29,1987
11thRevision of reserved seats for women. The bill was withdrawn in1992.1989
12thSpeedy Trial Court was set for 3 years.1991
13thPresident of Pakistan was stripped of his powers to dissolve National Assembly.1997
14thMember of Parliament can be dismissed upon defection.July 3,1997
15thBill to impose Shariah Law. This bill was never passed.1998
16thQuota System to remain in effects for 20 more years.1999
17th Reversal of the effects of 13th Amendments.2003
18thPower of dissolution of National Assembly unilaterally stripped.April 8,2010
19thAppointment of Judges of Supreme Court of Pakistan and Chief Election Commissioner.December 22,2010
20thCalled for free and fair elections.February 14,2012
21thEstablishment of Military Courts to deliver speedy justiceJanuary 7,2015
22ndElection commission of Pakistan deputed to appoint Chief Election Commissioner.June 8,2016
23rdExtension of Military Courts for another two years.January 7,2017
24thDelimitation of constituencies Baluchistan 20+100, KPK 4+1, Federal and Punjab will decrease 7and2.December 22,2017
25thFATA Merger Bill 2018, FATA has been merged in KPK with minor adjustments.May 31,2018
26thSeats of FATA Region in NA have been doubled from 6 to 12 and PA seats from 16 to 24.May  13,2019
Prepared by Miss Bakhtawar Zulfiqar

About Miss Bakhtawar Zulfiqar

Miss Bakhtawar Zulfiqar has been guiding law and competitive students for 5 years and has an adept command at revenue matters, General Knowledge and the Constitutional history of Pakistan.

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1 Comment

  • Khizra
    March 18, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    Masha Allah Masha Allah.


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