Education System of Pakistan: Issues, Problems and Solutions
It is mandated in the Constitution of Pakistan to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of 5-16 years and enhance adult literacy. With the 18th constitutional amendment the concurrent list which comprised of 47 subjects was abolished and these subjects, including education, were transferred to federating units as a move towards provincial autonomy.
The year 2015 is important in the context that it marks the deadline for the participants of Dakar declaration (Education For All [EFA] commitment) including Pakistan. Education related statistics coupled with Pakistan’s progress regarding education targets set in Vision 2030 and Pakistan’s lagging behind in achieving EFA targets and its Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) for education call for an analysis of the education system of Pakistan and to look into the issues and problems it is facing so that workable solutions could be recommended.
What is Education System?
The system of education includes all institutions that are involved in delivering formal education (public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, onsite or virtual instruction) and their faculties, students, physical infrastructure, resources and rules. In a broader definition the system also includes the institutions that are directly involved in financing, managing, operating or regulating such institutions (like government ministries and regulatory bodies, central testing organizations, textbook boards and accreditation boards). The rules and regulations that guide the individual and institutional interactions within the set up are also part of the education system.
Education system of Pakistan:
The education system of Pakistan is comprised of 260,903 institutions and is facilitating 41,018,384 students with the help of 1,535,461 teachers. The system includes 180,846 public institutions and 80,057 private institutions. Hence 31% educational institutes are run by private sector while 69% are public institutes.
Analysis of education system in Pakistan
Pakistan has expressed its commitment to promote education and literacy in the country by education policies at domestic level and getting involved into international commitments on education. In this regard national education policies are the visions which suggest strategies to increase literacy rate, capacity building, and enhance facilities in the schools and educational institutes. MDGs and EFA programmes are global commitments of Pakistan for the promotion of literacy.
A review of the education system of Pakistan suggests that there has been little change in Pakistan’s schools since 2010, when the 18th Amendment enshrined education as a fundamental human right in the constitution. Problems of access, quality, infrastructure and inequality of opportunity, remain endemic.
A) MDGs and Pakistan
Due to the problems in education system of Pakistan, the country is lagging behind in achieving its MDGs of education. The MDGs have laid down two goals for education sector:
Goal 2: The goal 2 of MDGs is to achieve Universal Primary Education (UPE) and by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. By the year 2014 the enrolment statistics show an increase in the enrolment of students of the age of 3-16 year while dropout rate decreased. But the need for increasing enrolment of students remains high to achieve MDGs target. Punjab is leading province wise in net primary enrolment rate with 62% enrolment. The enrolment rate in Sindh province is 52%, in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KPK) 54% and primary enrolment rate in Balochistan is 45%.
Goal 3: The goal 3 of MDGs is Promoting Gender Equality and Women Empowerment. It is aimed at eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005 and in all levels of education not later than 2015. There is a stark disparity between male and female literacy rates. The national literacy rate of male was 71% while that of female was 48% in 2012-13. Provinces reported the same gender disparity. Punjab literacy rate in male was 71% and for females it was 54%. In Sindh literacy rate in male was 72% and female 47%, in KPK male 70% and females 35%, while in Balochistan male 62% and female 23%.
B) Education for All (EFA) Commitment
The EFA goals focus on early childhood care and education including pre-schooling, universal primary education and secondary education to youth, adult literacy with gender parity and quality of education as crosscutting thematic and programme priorities.
EFA Review Report October 2014 outlines that despite repeated policy commitments, primary education in Pakistan is lagging behind in achieving its target of universal primary education. Currently the primary gross enrolment rate stands at 85.9% while Pakistan requires increasing it up to 100% by 2015-16 to fulfil EFA goals. Of the estimated total primary school going 21.4 million children of ages 5-9 years, 68.5% are enrolled in schools, of which 8.2 million or 56% are boys and 6.5 million or 44% are girls. Economic Survey of Pakistan confirms that during the year 2013-14 literacy remained much higher in urban areas than in rural areas and higher among males.
C) Vision 2030
Vision 2030 of Planning Commission of Pakistan looks for an academic environment which promotes the thinking mind. The goal under Vision 2030 is one curriculum and one national examination system under state responsibility. The strategies charted out to achieve the goal included:
(i) Increasing public expenditure on education and skills generation from 2.7% of GDP to 5% by 2010 and 7% by 2015.
(ii) Re-introduce the technical and vocational stream in the last two years of secondary schools.
(iii) Gradually increase vocational and technical education numbers to 25-30% of all secondary enrolment by 2015 and 50 per cent by 2030.
(iv) Enhance the scale and quality of education in general and the scale and quality of scientific/technical education in Pakistan in particular.
Problems: The issues lead to the comprehension of the problems which are faced in the development of education system and promotion of literacy. The study outlines seven major problems such as:
1) Lack of Proper Planning: Pakistan is a signatory to MDGs and EFA goals. However it seems that it will not be able to achieve these international commitments because of financial management issues and constraints to achieve the MDGs and EFA goals.
2) Social constraints: It is important to realize that the problems which hinder the provision of education are not just due to issues of management by government but some of them are deeply rooted in the social and cultural orientation of the people. Overcoming the latter is difficult and would require a change in attitude of the people, until then universal primary education is difficult to achieve.
3) Gender gap: Major factors that hinder enrolment rates of girls include poverty, cultural constraints, illiteracy of parents and parental concerns about safety and mobility of their daughters. Society’s emphasis on girl’s modesty, protection and early marriages may limit family’s willingness to send them to school. Enrolment of rural girls is 45% lower than that of urban girls; while for boys the difference is 10% only, showing that gender gap is an important factor.
4) Cost of education: The economic cost is higher in private schools, but these are located in richer settlements only. The paradox is that private schools are better but not everywhere and government schools ensure equitable access but do not provide quality education.
5) War on Terror: Pakistan’s engagement in war against terrorism also affected the promotion of literacy campaign. The militants targeted schools and students; several educational institutions were blown up, teachers and students were killed in Balochistan, KPK and FATA. This may have to contribute not as much as other factors, but this remains an important factor.
6) Funds for Education: Pakistan spends 2.4% GDP on education. At national level, 89% education expenditure comprises of current expenses such as teachers’ salaries, while only 11% comprises of development expenditure which is not sufficient to raise quality of education.
7) Technical Education: Sufficient attention has not been paid to the technical and vocational education in Pakistan. The number of technical and vocational training institutes is not sufficient and many are deprived of infrastructure, teachers and tools for training. The population of a state is one of the main elements of its national power. It can become an asset once it is skilled. Unskilled population means more jobless people in the country, which affects the national development negatively. Therefore, technical education needs priority handling by the government.
Poverty, law and order situation, natural disasters, budgetary constraints, lack of access, poor quality, equity, and governance have also contributed in less enrolments.
An analysis of the issues and problems suggest that:
The official data shows the allocation of funds for educational projects but there is no mechanism which ensures the proper expenditure of those funds on education.
- The existing infrastructure is not being properly utilized in several parts of the country.
- There are various challenges that include expertise, institutional and capacity issues, forging national cohesion, uniform standards for textbook development, and quality assurance.
- The faculty hiring process is historically known to be politicized. It is because of this that the quality of teaching suffers and even more so when low investments are made in teachers’ training. As a result teachers are not regular and their time at school is not as productive as it would be with a well-trained teacher.
- Inside schools there are challenges which include shortage of teachers, teacher absenteeism, missing basic facilities and lack of friendly environment.
- Out of school challenges include shortage of schools, distance – especially for females, insecurity, poverty, cultural norms, parents are reluctant or parents lack awareness.
There is a need for implementation of national education policy and vision 2030 education goals. An analysis of education policy suggests that at the policy level there are several admirable ideas, but practically there are some shortcomings also.
It may not be possible for the government at the moment to implement uniform education system in the country, but a uniform curriculum can be introduced in educational institutes of the country. This will provide equal opportunity to the students of rural areas to compete with students of urban areas in the job market.
Since majority of Pakistani population resides in rural areas and the access to education is a major problem for them, it seems feasible that a balanced approach for formal and informal education be adopted. Government as well as non-government sector should work together to promote education in rural areas.
The government should take measures to get school buildings vacated which are occupied by feudal lords of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab. Efforts should be made to ensure that proper education is provided in those schools.
The federal government is paying attention to the vocational and technical training, but it is important to make the already existing vocational and technical training centres more efficient so that skilled youth could be produced.
Since education is a provincial subject, the provincial education secretariats need to be strengthened. Special policy planning units should be established in provinces’ education departments for implementation of educational policies and formulation of new policies whenever needed. The provincial education departments need to work out financial resources required for realising the compliance of Article 25-A.
Federal Government should play a supportive role vis-à-vis the provinces for the early compliance of the constitutional obligation laid down in Article 25-A. Special grants can be provided to the provinces where the literacy rate is low.
Pakistan is not the only country which is facing challenges regarding promotion of literacy and meeting EFA and MDGs commitments. Education remains a subject which is paid least attention in the whole South Asian region. UNDP report 2014 suggests that there has been an improvement in other elements of human development such as life expectancy, per capita income and human development index value (in past 3 years); but there has been no progress in the number of schooling years. The expected average for years of schooling in 2010 was 10.6 years but the actual average of schooling remained 4.7 for all South Asian countries. In the year 2013 the expected average of number of years increased to 11.2 but the actual average of years of schooling of South Asian countries remained 4.7. Regional cooperation mechanism can also be developed to promote literacy in South Asian region. Sharing success stories, making country-specific modifications and their implementation can generate positive results.
- Technical education should be made a part of secondary education. Classes for carpentry, electrical, and other technical education must be included in the curriculum.
- Providing economic incentives to the students may encourage the parents to send their children to school and may help in reducing the dropout ratio.
- Local government system is helpful in promoting education and literacy in the country. In local government system the funds for education would be spent on a need basis by the locality.
- Corruption in education departments is one of the factors for the poor literacy in the country. An effective monitoring system is needed in education departments.
- For any system to work it is imperative that relevant structures are developed. Legislation and structure should be framed to plan for the promotion of education in the country. After the 18th amendment the education has become a provincial subject, therefore, the provinces should form legislations and design educational policies which ensure quality education.
- Unemployment of educated men and women is a major concern for Pakistan. There should be career counselling of the pupils in schools so that they have an understanding of job market and they can develop their skills accordingly.
- Counselling of parents is required, so that they can choose a career for their child which is market friendly.
- There are two approaches to acquiring education: First, which is being followed by many in Pakistan is to get education to earn bread and butter. The second approach is to get education for the sake of personal development and learning. This approach is followed by affluent and economically stable people who send their children to private schools and abroad for education. The problem arises when non-affluent families send their children to private schools, and universities. This aspiration for sending children for higher education is wrong, because the country does not need managers and officers only. There are several other jobs where people are needed. Hence the mind-set of sending one’s children to university only for becoming officers and managers needs to be changed.
The reforms required in the education system of Pakistan cannot be done by the government alone, public-private participation and a mix of formal as well as non-formal education can pull out majority of country’s population from illiteracy. Similarly, to make the youth of the country an asset, attention should also be paid to vocational and technical training.
Human Development Report 2014 “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience,” United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (New York: UNDP, 2014).
Mehnaz Aziz et al, “Education System Reform in Pakistan: Why, When, and How?” IZA Policy Paper No. 76, January 2014 (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2014), P 4.
Annual Report: Pakistan Education Statistics 2011-12, National Education Management Information System Academy of Educational Planning and Management, Ministry of Education, Trainings & Standards in Higher Education, Government of Pakistan, (Islamabad, AEPAM, 2013).
Economic Survey of Pakistan 2014, Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan.
Pakistan: Education for All 2015 National Review, Ministry of Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education Academy of Educational Planning and Management Islamabad, Pakistan June, 2014 (available at : http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002297/229718E.pdf).
Maliha Naveed, Reasons of Low Levels of Education in Pakistan, Pakistan Herald, January 03, 2013 (available at: http://www.pakistanherald.com/articles/reasons-of-low-levels-of-education-in-pakistan-3065).
“Pakistan may miss EFA goals by 2015-16: Report,” Daily Nation, October, 3, 2014.
Tags: Education • Education System • EFA • Illiteracy • MDGs • Pakistan • Vision 2030
The politics of Pakistan takes place within the framework established by the constitution. The country is a federalparliamentary republic in which provincial governments enjoy a high degree of autonomy and residuary powers. Executive power is vested with the national cabinet which is headed by the prime minister, who works coherently along with the bicameral parliament and the judicature. Stipulations set by the constitution provide a delicate check and balance of sharing powers between executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government.
The head of state is the president who is elected by the electoral college for a five-year term. The president was a significant authority until the 18th amendment, passed in 2010, stripped the presidency of its major powers. Since then, Pakistan has been shifted from a Semi-presidential system to a purely parliamentary government.
The Government consists of three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. The Executive branch consists of the Cabinet and is led by the Prime Minister. It is totally independent of the legislative branch that consists of a bicameralparliament. The Upper House is the Senate whilst the National Assembly is the lower house. The Judicial branch forms with the composition of the Supreme Court as an apex court, alongside the high courts and other inferior courts. The judiciary's function is to interpret the Constitution and federal laws and regulations.
Pakistan is a multiparty democracy where several political parties bag seats in the National and Provincial assemblies. However, as an aftermath of the Fall of Dhaka in 1971, a two-party system was inculcated between the Peoples Party and Muslim League. There has also been a sharp rise in the popularity of centrist parties such that PML-Q and PTI. The Military establishment has played an influential role in the country's politics. From 1950s to 2000s, several coups were staged that overthrew democratic regimes. However, after the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf in 2008, a sharp line has been drawn between the Military and politics and Pakistan is moving closer to becoming a Liberal Democracy.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Pakistan as "hybrid regime" in 2016.
The president of Pakistan, in keeping with the constitutional provision that the state religion is Islam, must be a Muslim. Elected for a five-year term by an Electoral College consisting of members of the Senate and National Assembly and members of the provincial assemblies, the president is eligible for re-election. But no individual may hold the office for more than two consecutive terms. The president may resign or be impeached and may be removed from office due to incapacity or gross misconduct by a two-thirds vote of the members of the parliament. The president generally acts on the advice of the prime minister but has important residual powers.
One of the most important of these powers—a legacy of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq—is the president's power to dissolve the National Assembly "in his discretion where, in has arisen in which the Government of the Federation cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and an appeal to the electorate is necessary." This power has twice been granted —by the Eighth Amendment in 1985 and by the Seventeenth Amendment in 2003—and has twice been revoked—by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1997 and by the Eighteenth Amendment in 2010. Despite this most recent power-stripping, the President remains the ex officio chair of the National Security Council, as per the National Security Act 2004.
The prime minister is appointed by the members of the National Assembly through a vote. The prime minister is assisted by the Federal Cabinet, a council of ministers whose members are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister. The Federal Cabinet comprises the ministers, ministers of state, and advisers. As of early 1994, there were thirty-three ministerial portfolios: commerce; communications; culture; defence; defence production; education; environment; finance and economic affairs; food and agriculture; foreign affairs; health; housing; information and broadcasting; interior; Kashmiri affairs and Northern Areas; law and justice; local government; minority affairs; narcotics control; parliamentary affairs; petroleum and natural resources production; planning and development; railways; religious affairs; science and technology; social welfare; special education; sports; state and frontier regions; tourism; water and power; women's development; and youth affairs.
The bicameral federal legislature consists of the Senate (upper house) and National Assembly (lower house). According to Article 50 of the Constitution, the National Assembly, the Senate and the President together make up a body known as the Majlis-i-Shoora (Council of Advisers).
Pakistan's democracy has no recall method. However, past governments have been dismissed for corruption by the President's invocation of Article 58 of the Constitution. The President's power to dismiss the Prime Minister and dissolve the National Assembly was removed by the Thirteenth Amendment and partially restored by the Seventeenth Amendment.
The Senate is a permanent legislative body with equal representation from each of the four provinces, elected by the members of their respective provincial assemblies. There are representatives from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and from Islamabad Capital Territory. The chairman of the Senate, under the constitution, is next in line to act as president should the office become vacant and until such time as a new president can be formally elected. Both the Senate and the National Assembly can initiate and pass legislation except for finance bills. Only the National Assembly can approve the federal budget and all finance bills. In the case of other bills, the president may prevent passage unless the legislature in joint sitting overrules the president by a majority of members of both houses present and voting. Unlike the National Assembly, the Senate cannot be dissolved by the President.
Members of the National Assembly are elected by universal adult suffrage (formerly twenty-one years of age and older but the seventeenth amendment changed it to eighteen years of age.). Seats are allocated to each of the four provinces, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and Islamabad Capital Territory on the basis of population. National Assembly members serve for the parliamentary term, which is five years, unless they die or resign sooner, or unless the National Assembly is dissolved. Although the vast majority of the members are Muslim, about 5 percent of the seats are reserved for minorities, including Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs. Elections for minority seats are held on the basis of separate electorates at the same time as the polls for Muslim seats during the general elections. There are also 50+ special seats for women now, and women are selected (i.e. not directly elected in the general election but given representation according to how their parties performed in the general election) on these seat by their party head: another seventeenth amendment innovation.
The judiciary includes the Supreme Court, provincial high courts, District & sessions Courts, Civil and Magistrate courts exercising civil and criminal jurisdiction. Some federal and provincial courts and tribunals such as Services court, Income tax & excise court, Banking court and Boards of Revenue's Tribunals are as well established in all provinces.
In reference of ARTICLE 175 (A) APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES 
The Supreme Court has original, appellate, and advisory jurisdiction.
(1) There shall be a Judicial Commission of Pakistan, hereinafter in this Article referred to as the Commission, for appointment of Judges of the Supreme Court, High Courts and the Federal Shariat Court, as hereinafter provided.
(2) For appointment of Judges of the Supreme Court, the Commission shall consist of---
(i) Chief Justice of Pakistan; Chairman (ii) [four] most senior Judges of the Supreme Court;Member (iii) a former Chief Justice or a former Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to be nominated by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, in consultation with the [four] member Judges, for a term of two years; Member (iv) Federal Minister for Law and Justice;Member (v) Attorney-General for Pakistan; and Member (vi) a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan nominated by the Pakistan Bar Council for a term of two years.Member
(3) Now withstanding anything contained in clause (1) or clause (2), the President shall appoint the most senior Judge of the Supreme Court as the Chief Justice of Pakistan.The chief justice and judges of the Supreme Court may remain in office until age sixty-five: now 68 years and this is also another clause of seventeenth amendment.
Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan
The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) of Pakistan is a court which has the power to examine and determine whether the laws of the country comply with Shari'a law. It consists of 8 Muslim judges appointed by the President of Pakistan after consulting the Chief Justice of this Court, from amongst the serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court or a High Court or from amongst persons possessing the qualifications of judges of a High Court. Of the 8 judges, 3 are required to be Ulema who are well versed in Islamic law. The judges hold office for a period of 3 years, which may eventually be extended by the President. Appeal against its decisions lie to the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of 3 Muslim judges of the Supreme Court and 2 Ulema, appointed by the President. If any part of the law is declared to be against Islamic law, the government is required to take necessary steps to amend such law appropriately. The court also exercises revisional jurisdiction over the criminal courts, deciding Hudood cases. The decisions of the court are binding on the High Courts as well as subordinate judiciary. The court appoints its own staff and frames its own rules of procedure. Ever since its establishment in 1980, the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan has been the subject of criticism and controversy in the society. Created as an islamisation measure by the military regime and subsequently protected under the controversial 8th Amendment, its opponents question the very rationale and utility of this institution. It is stated that this court merely duplicates the functions of the existing superior courts and also operates as a check on the sovereignty of Parliament. The composition of the court, particularly the mode of appointment of its judges and the insecurity of their tenure, is taken exception to, and it is alleged, that this court does not fully meet the criterion prescribed for the independence of the judiciary. That is to say, it is not immune to pressures and influences from the Executive. In the past, this court was used as a refuge for the recalcitrant judges. And whereas some of its judgments, particularly the ones which relying on the Islamic concept of equity, justice and fair play, expanded and enlarged the scope and contents of individual’s rights were commended, others that tend to restrict the rights of women, are severely criticised and deplored.
Provincial and High Courts
In every province, there is one High Court. Currently all four provinces Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have High courts, respectively called Lahore High Court, Sindh High Court, Peshawar High Court, and Balochistan High Court. After the approval of 18th Constitutional Amendment in April 2010, a new High court is established at Federal Capital Islamabad with the name of Islamabad High Court. In 18th Amendment, judges appointments are proposed by a Parliamentary Commission. Judges of the provincial high courts were, previously appointed ( The seventeenth amendment give these powers to the president, previously Prime minister exercised them) by the president after consultation with the chief justice of the Supreme Court, as well as the governor of the province and the chief justice of the high court to which the appointment is being made. High courts have original and appellate jurisdiction.
In addition, there are special courts and tribunals to deal with specific kinds of cases, such as drug courts, commercial courts, labour courts, traffic courts, an insurance appellate tribunal, an income tax appellate tribunal, and special courts for bank offences. There are also special courts to try terrorists. Appeals from special courts go to high courts except for labour and traffic courts, which have their own forums for appeal. Appeals from the tribunals go to the Supreme Court.
A further feature of the judicial system is the office of Mohtasib (Ombudsman), which is provided for in the constitution. The office of Mohtasib was established in many early Muslim states to ensure that no wrongs were done to citizens. Appointed by the president, the Mohtasib holds office for four years; the term cannot be extended or renewed. The Mohtasib's purpose is to institutionalize a system for enforcing administrative accountability, through investigating and rectifying any injustice done to a person through maladministration by a federal agency or a federal government official. The Mohtasib is empowered to award compensation to those who have suffered loss or damage as a result of maladministration. Excluded from jurisdiction, however, are personal grievances or service matters of a public servant as well as matters relating to foreign affairs, national defence, and the armed services. This institution is designed to bridge the gap between administrator and citizen, to improve administrative processes and procedures, and to help curb misuse of discretionary powers.
> Pakistan has been ruled by both democratic and military governments. The first decade was marred with political unrest and instability, with frequent collapses of civilian democratic governments that eventually led to the 1958 military coup. Since 1947 till present now, Pakistan has been governed by various of both right-wing conservative governments and left-wing socialistic oriented governments, while neither far-right and far-left had failed to achieve enough majority to claim the exclusive mandate. From 1947 to 1958 as many as seven Prime Ministers of Pakistan either resigned or were ousted. This political instability paved the way for Pakistan’s first military take over. On October 7, 1958 Pakistan’s civilian and first President Iskander Mirza in collaboration with General Mohammad Ayub Khan abrogated Pakistan’s constitution and declared Martial Law. General Ayub Khan was the president from 1958 to 1969, and General Yahya Khan from 1969 to 1971, Chief Justice Habib Khan Marvath elected first Chairman Senate of Pakistan. Civilian, yet socialist-oriented autocratic, rule continued from 1972 to 1977 under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but he was deposed by General Zia-Ul-Haq. General Zia was killed in a plane crash in 1988, after which Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. She was the youngest woman ever to be elected the Head of Government and the first woman to be elected as the Head of Government of a Muslim country. Her government was followed by that of Nawaz Sharif, and the two leaders alternated until the military coup by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999. From the resignation of President Rafiq Tarar in 2001, to his own resignation in 2008, Musharraf was the President of Pakistan. In 2008, Asif Ali Zardari was elected president.
Form of Government
Officially a federal republic, Pakistan has had a long history of alternating periods of electoral democracy and authoritarian military government. Military presidents include General Ayub Khan in the 1960s, General Zia ul Haq in the 1980s, and General Pervez Musharraf from 1999. However, a majority of Pakistan's Heads of State and Heads of Government have been elected civilian leaders. General elections were held in October 2002. After monitoring the elections, the Commonwealth Observer Group stated in conclusion:
- We believe that on election day this was a credible election: the will of the people was expressed and the results reflected their wishes. However, in the context of various measures taken by the government we are not persuaded of the overall fairness of the process as a whole.
On May 22, 2004, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group re-admitted Pakistan into the Commonwealth, formally acknowledging its progress in returning to democracy.
Kashmir in Pakistani politics
Azad Kashmir has its own constitution, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act of 1974, and a locally chosen parliamentary form of government, as described above . The constitution allows for many of the structures that comprise a self-governing state, including a legislative assembly elected through periodic elections, a prime minister who commands the majority in the assembly, an indirectly elected president, an independent judiciary, and local government institutions.
But these provisions are hollow. Under Section 56 of the Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act (which was drafted by the Federal Ministries of Law and Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad), the Pakistani government can dismiss any elected government in Azad Kashmir irrespective of the support it may enjoy in the AJK Legislative Assembly. The Interim Constitution Act provides for two executive forums—the Azad Kashmir Government in Muzaffarabad and the Azad Kashmir Council in Islamabad.
The latter body, presided over by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, exercises paramount authority over the AJK Legislative Assembly, which cannot challenge decisions of the council. The council is under the numerical control of the federal government in Islamabad, as in addition to the Pakistani prime minister it comprises six other federal ministers, the minister of Kashmir affairs as the ex-officio member, the prime minister of Azad Kashmir, and six Azad Kashmir members elected by the Legislative Assembly.38 The interim constitution act lists fifty-two subjects—virtually everything of any importance—that are under the jurisdiction of the Azad Kashmir Council, which has been described as the “supra power” by the Azad Kashmir High Court. Its decisions are final and not subject to judicial review.
Thus, Azad Kashmir remains for all intents and purposes under Pakistan’s strict control, exercising no real sovereignty of its own. From the outset, the institutional set up in the territory was designed to ensure Pakistan’s control of the area’s affairs. According to the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) 39 resolutions, Azad Kashmir is neither a sovereign state nor a province of Pakistan, but rather a “local authority” with responsibility over the area assigned to it under the current 2003 ceasefire line agreement. 40 The “local authority” or Provisional government of Azad Kashmir as established in October 1947 handed over to Pakistan under the Karachi Agreement of April 28, 1949, matters related to defense, foreign affairs, negotiations with the UNCIP and coordination of all affairs relating to Gilgit and Baltistan (strategically important territories that now comprise Pakistan’s “Northern Areas”.
A former president of Azad Kashmir (who preferred not to be named in this report) described the situation as “government of Azad Kashmir, by the Pakistanis, for Pakistan.” He also pointed to the striking continuity of the “old princely system” under British rule because of Islamabad’s “viceroy” role generally and the maintenance of the traditional biradari system locally.
Pakistan is subdivided into 4 provinces, 2 territories, and 1 capital territory. Each province has a Provincial Assembly, a directly elected legislature. Members are elected for five-year terms. Each Assembly elects a Chief Minister, who then selects the ministers of his or her cabinet.
See also: Government of Pakistan
Pakistan's provinces are divided into districts called zillas in local languages (counterpart to a county in US or UK terminology). A zilla is further subdivided into tehsils (roughly equivalent to a borough in an integrated multi-tier (federated) systemic context, such as the one to be found in Montreal (Canada, 2002) and Birmingham (UK, 2001 announcement) or known as arrondissements in French context. Tehsils may contain town or municipalities. Pakistan's system is the one that applies an integrated federated systemic framework most comprehensively, so far.
This methodology is not new to the region, as it is similar to what is referred to as the old Panchayat Raj system in India that was introduced by Britain during the colonial era. In the 1890s Britain had become the first nation to adapt the two-tier administrative framework of revolutionary Paris (1790) onto pre-existing parish councils in the urban context (London) and into three tiers in the rural context (county, district, parish councils). In India it was implemented in some regions and not others; and then allowed to lie fallow. It got new life after the very successful West Bengal revival in the 1970s, which eventually inspired the 1990s Constitutional Amendment making it national policy.
The main difference is that Pakistan is the only country with an urban framework, as well, in the region today; and Pakistan's system has common-representational framework between tiers (as Montreal and Birmingham also have in two-tier context—even though Birmingham is working on implementing a three-tier system); and, it has a bottom-up representational framework like the Canadian example. Pakistan had the only three-tier integrated bottom-up common-representational local government system, until it was adapted for another country in 2003. UK, the country which first introduced this methodology in the region, also has the urban examples of London and Birmingham (being implemented in the post-2001 era by building on steps first introduced in the 1980s); as does France (where largest cities and smaller units have created such frameworks either by devolution (Marseilles and Lyon, in addition to Paris) or by integration of neighbouring units (such as the Nantes region pursuant to the Marcellin Act of the 1970s); and Canada.
This methodology is being increasingly adapted, as it delivers greater systemic productivity, being a more inclusive framework that provides greater regional integration. In the US, the seven county Twin Cities (MN) regional system and Portland (OR) Metro are both the most integrated US examples; but, also those often cited in the US for what they have achieved. These US examples — with their multi-county framework — are similar to what is in place in France after regional unit introduction (making France have a three-tier systemic framework also in the Commune (municipal/lowest tier local unit), Department (county), Regional unit context). Multi-county frameworks are suitable for a very suburbanized system like in the US. After France and Britain, the Indian colony of Britain was the third region to see this methodology implemented.
There are over five thousand local governments in Pakistan. Since 2001, the vast majority of these have been led by democratically elected local councils, each headed by a Nazim (mayor or supervisor.) Council elections are held every four years.
Main article: Foreign relations of Pakistan
Pakistan is the second largest Muslim country in terms of population, and its status as a declared nuclear power, being the only Muslim nation to have that status, plays a part in its international role. It is also an active member of the United Nations. Historically, its foreign policy has encompassed difficult relations with India, a desire for a stable Afghanistan, long-standing close relations with the People's Republic of China, extensive security and economic interests in the Persian Gulf and wide-ranging bilateral relations with the United States and other Western countries. Pakistan is also an important member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Pakistan has used the OIC as a forum for Enlightened Moderation, its plan to promote a renaissance and enlightenment in the Islamic world.
Wary of Soviet expansion, Pakistan had strong relations with both the United States of America and the People's Republic of China during much of the Cold War. It was a member of the CENTO and SEATO military alliances. Its alliance with the United States was especially close after the Soviets invaded the neighbouring country of Afghanistan.
In 1964, Pakistan signed the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) Pact with Turkey and Iran, when all three countries were closely allied with the U.S., and as neighbours of the Soviet Union, wary of perceived Soviet expansionism. To this day, Pakistan has a close relationship with Turkey. RCD became defunct after the Iranian Revolution, and a Pakistani-Turkish initiative led to the founding of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) in 1985. Pakistan's relations with India have improved recently and this has opened up Pakistan's foreign policy to issues beyond security. This development might completely change the complexion of Pakistan's foreign relations.
Pakistan joined the Non-Aligned Movement in 1979.
- ^"Part I: "Introductory"".
- ^See Part III: The Federation of Pakistan of the Constitution of Pakistan
- ^"Chapter 3: "The Federal Government" of Part III: "The Federation of Pakistan"".
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- ^Supreme Court of Pakistan press. "Judicature Branch". supremecourt.gov.pk/. Supreme Court of Pakistan press. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- ^"The Judicature".
- ^"Chapter 1: "The President" of Part III: "The Federation of Pakistan"".
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- ^Pakistani general elections 2013
- ^solutions, EIU digital. "Democracy Index 2016 - The Economist Intelligence Unit". www.eiu.com. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
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- ^President Musharraf on Enlightened Moderation
- ^Pakistan: A Country Study, "The United States and the West"