Thursday, April 08, 2010

Some Good News from Pakistan

"April 2010 shall go down in Pakistan’s history as an epoch-making month," according to Prof. I Ahmad of Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.

The reason for this optimistic observation is the passing of the 18th amendment to the constitution of Pakistan, which seeks to strengthen parliamentary democracy, give more power to the provinces in the country's federal system of government, and support the independence of the judiciary.

Most striking to many western eyes of the proposals bundled together in this reform package is the reduction in the powers of the President:

"The removal of Article 58-2/b ends the arbitrary power of the President to dismiss an elected government. With this, Mr Zardari becomes the first president in the country’s history to surrender his powers vested in the Constitution."

Other measures include:

  • the re-naming of the North-West Frontier province to the less colonial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  • the creation of a Judicial Commission for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court
  • the removal of the name of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq from the Constitution - a symbolic act aimed at making a statement against military intervention in the democratic process
  • the extending of compulsory education to all 16-year olds

The news, meanwhile, is less encouraging from Thailand where a virtual media blackout is now in force.

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