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Amendments in the Constitution of 1973
Amendments in the constitution are a necessity to bring it into line with the needs of the changing times. These amendments and adaptations keep the sacred instrument afresh and up-to-date. Similarly, the constitution of 1973 that came into force on 14th August 1973 was amended seven times during the Bhutto regime while nineteen others were made between 1985 and 2019. However, most of these amendments were not made out of necessity but were motivated by some ulterior motives:
- May 4, 1974: Recognition of Bangladesh; Redefined boundaries of the country; Omission of References to East Pakistan in the Constitution.
- September 7, 1974: Defined a Muslim; Ahmadis were defined as non-Muslim and Minority.
- February 18, 1975: To victimize political opponents period of preventive detention was increased from one month to three months.
- November 21, 1975: Curtailed the jurisdictions of courts; courts were not allowed to grant bail to a person detained under preventive detention; also the allocation of 6 special seats for minorities in the NA; Minorities seats in Punjab assembly increased from 3 to 5.
- September 5, 1976: Widened the scope of restrictions on courts (period of separation of judiciary from the executive was increased from 3 to 5 year; Maximum tenure of the CJ of Supreme and High Courts was fixed as 5 and 4 years respectively; High courts were prohibited to issue any order subject to the Article 175 (2) and 199 of the constitution; Judges of the High courts could be posted to another High court; A judge of a High court who refused to accept an appointment at Supreme court would be forced to retire).
- December 22, 1976: passed on the last day of the assembly before the elections; Chief Justice of Supreme Court and High court would complete 5 and 4 years of tenure even if they get past the age of 65 and 62 respectively.
- May 16, 1977: Provided for a referendum to demonstrate confidence in the Prime Minister.
- November 11, 1985: Before the assembly met on March 23, 1985, President issued Revival of the Constitution of 1973 Order (RCO) on March 2, 1985, and made massive changes in the constitution; This gave the president the power to nominate PM from amongst the members of NA; though Junejo government was in power the Martial Law was not lifted till December 30, 1985. 8th Amendment: a) Semi Presidential System (was not bond to accept the advice of the cabinet; appoint chiefs of the armed forces and Chief Election Commissioner; 58-2 (B)); b) All the acts of Zia from July 5, 1977, was given constitutional protection; c) Islamic provisions (Objectives Resolution as part of the Constitution; Zia’s laws were made part of the constitution); Increase in the number of seats in NA (207 General, 10 women, and 10 minorities and 87 in the senate); Tenure of the senate to 6 years.
- (NOT PASSED): Bill to impose Shariat Law as the supreme law of the land; passed by the senate but before the committee appointed presented it before the National Assembly, it was dissolved.
- March 29, 1987: Decreased the duration of the interval between the sessions of the NA and Senate from 160 to 130 days.
- (NOT PASSED): Presented in Senate on August 31, 1989, by opposition members; Proposed to restore the seats of women in NA to 20; Government assured that they would introduce the same bill themselves.
- July 28, 1991: Established Speedy Courts for the trial of dreadful offenses for 3 years; raised the salaries of the judges of Supreme Court and High Courts.
- April 4, 1997: Moved and passed in minutes by relaxing the usual rules to pass constitutional amendment; Undone 8th amendment (Powers of the president including 58-2 (B) were reduced but no change in the changes related to Islam.
- July 3, 1997: Members of the parliament were dismissed if they defect.
- (NOT PASSED): Bill to impose Shariat Law as supreme Law of the Land; Passed by NA on August 28, 1998; Never passed by the senate.
- August 5, 1999: Increased the validity of quota system from 20 to 40 years
- December 29, 2003: On December 24, PML (Q) signed a seven-point accord with MMA on constitutional amendment package; Qazi Hussain Ahmad still had few objections; another agreement was reached on December 27; Opposition boycotted the session; Amendment once again increased the powers of the president on the lines of 8th amendment (President was given the power to dissolve the assembly but clause 3 was added to article 58 which provided the option of Supreme court to decide within 15 days of the dissolution of the assembly); Increase in seats: NA (272 General; 60 women; 10 minorities) and Senate 104.
- April 8, 2010: Speaker of the NA constituted a Committee on Constitutional Reforms (27 members from all the parties in the parliament) in April 2009; Raza Rabbani was elected as its chairman; Mandate to comprehensively review the constitution; Committee called for suggestion from Public (received 982 recommendations); Held 77 in-camera meetings; recommended amendments to 97 articles in the constitution; Almost consensus was reached (only 11 notes of reiteration from various parties were submitted; 18th Amendment: a) Repealed 17th amendment; b) Provincial Autonomy (abolished concurrent list; several federal ministries were dissolved); c) Khyber Pakhtoon Khawa was given a new name
- December 22, 2010: Taken powers from Chief Justice for the appoint new judges and given the power to Judicial Council of Pakistan consisting of 4 senior judges; Tribal Areas adjacent to Laki Marwat and Tank were made part of FATA; Islamabad High Court was established.
- February 14, 2012: Set down the process of installing a caretaker set-up hold free and fair elections (four members of treasure and four members of opposition; if they fail to solve in 3 days then the case be referred to the leader of the house and leader of the opposition); Chief Election Commissioner and member of the election commission were also appointed in consultation of the leader of the house and the leader of the opposition.
- January 7, 2015: Speedy trial military courts to deal with terrorism for two years to be expired on January 6, 2017.
- June 8, 2016: Besides retired Judges of the Supreme and High courts, retired senior bureaucrats and technocrats could also become Chief Election Commissioner and Members of the Election Commission; one each member from every province; Maximum age of appointing as CEC 68 and member 65.
- January 7, 2017: Extension of speedy trial military courts to deal with terrorism for another two years.
- December 22, 2017: Reallocation of the NA seats among federating units and readjust constituencies according to the provisional results of the census of 2017.
- May 25, 2018: Merger of FATA with KP.
- May 13, 2019: Seats of Tribal districts in NA would remain 12 while their seats in KP assembly will be increased from 16 to 24.