After discussing so many different topics related to democracy and the electoral process, in today’s blog we’ll talk about the system of governance currently in place in Pakistan. But before we launch into the whole discussion, here’s a warning: today’s blog will be just a tad bit academic! What’s that we hear? Boring, you said? No, no, we won’t get boring just a little a-c-a-d-e-m-i-c! Bear with us just a for a few minutes of reading and we promise that you won’t be disappointed!
Now without further ado let’s try to understand how the government functions in Pakistan and what processes are followed to keep the system streamlined. The first and most important piece of information that we need to know is that Pakistan follows a system of governance commonly known as “Parliamentary Democracy”. Simply put, a parliamentary system is one in which the executive branch (i.e. in the case of Pakistan its Prime Minister who holds maximum power in the decision making process) derives its legitimacy from, and is held accountable to, the legislature (which is known as the Parliament). Still a little confused? Okay, let’s break it down into steps: in a parliamentary form of government the masses elect a group of parliamentarians. Now these parliamentarians can belong to different political parties or can be individuals. Once the entire Parliament is elected, two or more people are nominated from among the parliamentarians to be elected for the Prime Minister’s seat. The parliamentarians caste their votes and select one of the candidates for the most powerful position (or the executive branch) in the government, i.e. the Prime Minister (PM). The PM is thus dependent on the Parliament for being elected and the Parliament holds the PM responsible for his/her performance throughout the 5 years of his/her tenure. The executive and legislative branches are thus, interconnected and have to work closely woth eachother to ensure efficient and effective governance.
Another fact that is important is that the Government of Pakistan is a federal government established by the Constitution of Pakistan. While we will be discussing the concept of “federalism” in greater detail in the coming blogs, just for understanding the federal government is responsible for governing all the four provinces of a the country, which together form the State of Pakistan.
Further, the government itself is composed of three branches: executive (led by the Prime Mnister), legislative (which forms the Parliament), and judicial (headed by the Supreme Court). The Parliament by passing new laws or amending existing laws defines how each of these branches of governance will function.
Here, we also need to understand that Pakistan consists of a bicameral Parliament. In simple terms this means that the Parliament is divided into two branches, i.e. the National Assembly (which forms the lower house) and the Senate (which forms the upper house). For any bill to be made a law, usually it is first passed by the National Assembly and is then sent to the Senate for Approval. It is only when both the houses approve a bill that it is sent for the President’s signature.
President’s signature? Feeling a little confused because the President is only suppose to be a figure head without any real executive powers? Well, while it is true that the President is a ceremonial head, he however does enjoy certain powes. For instance, the President of Pakistan can pass ordinances (laws that have not yet been approved by the Parliament but can stay in force for three months after which they will either expire or can be made laws if approved by the Parliament) and his signatures are required on any laws (that the Parliament has passed) before they can be officially enforced.
Now there are so many more elements to the functing of the Pakistani state, however we hope that this will help give you a basic understanding. Do let us know if this was helpful!

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