Pakistan: Benazir's Dismissal to Elections

-Sreedhar Rao, Senior Fellow, IDSA


The dismissal of Benazir Bhutto's government on November 5, 1996, and the subsequent developments culiminating in the February 3, 1997, elections, are significant in a number of ways in the contemporary political history of Pakistan. In its 50th anniversary of independence, a duly elected government was dimissed, not by a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly but by a Presidential Ordinance. And interestingly, there was not even a murmur of protest for this extraordinary political action of the President, Farooq Leghari.

Simultaneously, Pakistan's President decided to establish a Council for Defence and National Security (CDNS) through an ordinance just weeks before the elections were to take place for the National Assembly and changed the character of the system of governance. Similarly, the Ehtesab Ordinance was issued to weed out corruption in Pakistan, but was amended within days of its promulgation to dilute its impact. In this paper, an attempt has been made to examine all these developments during the 90 days between Benazir Bhutto's government's dismissal and the elections.

The situation on November 1, 1996, four days before the dismissal of the government of Benazir Bhutto should enable us to have a better understanding of the subsequent developments. Ahmed Rashid, writing in The Nation, just a day before the dismissal, describes the situation as "Benazir reaping the whirlwind as time runs out."1 According to him, the too little too late syndrome is on everyone's lips in this city of intrigues (Islamabad). Despite the economic crisis that has savaged business and industry, and her 180 degree turnaround with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government issued not a single comment, leave alone an apology to the country, that its economic policies and the Prime Minister's team may have been wrong.2

"The anticorruption bill, being introduced in the parliament is seriously flawed and to date Ms Bhutto has still not made a single statement that corruption exists in the land of pure."3

"The President refused to issue an ordinance to force Punjab to impose agricultural tax, the lynchpin of the PPP government's agreement with the IMF. Instead, he is insisting that Ms. Bhutto mobilise her support in the Punjab Assembly to pass a bill that will be permanent and non-lapsable."4

Rashid's article also points out that promises for a genuine Cabinet reshuffle have been equally halfhearted. The shifting around of the same faces to different jobs does not constitute a real change as was being demanded by the President, the business community or the public. Benazir defended the discredited V.A. Jaffery (Financial Adviser) to the last despite advice to the contrary from her closest advisers, international lending agencies and the entire business community.

Stating that the "government is in a state of paralysis," Rashid points out that decision making in the government has ceased, files are not moving on anyone's desk and telephone calls and requests for meetings by foreign dignatories are ignored. Anyone in the Cabinet can now get up and run with any policy he likes...It is difficult to convey how on the mandane issues, power is slipping out of the government's hands almost on hourly basis.

"As though this is not sufficient, the killing of Murtaza Bhutto, and angry Ghinwa Bhutto's attempts at seeking justice have deeply divided the Bhutto family, led to wild accusations in the Court against First Husband (Asif Ali Zardari), and destroyed Ms. Bhutto's credibility and vital political card in the home province of Sind."

Rashid concludes by saying that if Ms. Bhutto offers a public apology to the nation, the crisis may cool down. Otherwise, "we may be witnessing the last few weeks of her government."5

Within 24 hours of the publication of this article (November 5, 1996) President Farooq Ahmed Leghari dissolved the National Assembly, dismissed Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her Cabinet, declaring February 3, 1997, as the new date for elections. Simultaneously, all the four Provincial Assemblies were also disbanded by the President.

In the detailed five-page proclamation, the President held Ms. Bhutto's government responsible for not giving any heed to his advice of protecting the lives and properties of people in Karachi. He alleged that thousands of people have been killed in the past three years in Karachi in police custody.

The President said that on the murder of Murtaza Bhutto, Ms. Bhutto had accused both the Army and the Presidency. Though she denied any such statement later, it badly damaged the reputation of the defenders of Pakistan. He further accused the Bhutto government of delaying the March 20, 1996, judgement of the Supreme Court on the appointment of judges. The President charged Ms. Bhutto's government with violating the fundamental rights of privacy by resorting to bugging of telephones of the military and political leaders, and high officials of the civil and military bureaucracy. The President also said that the so-called the Accountability Bill introduced by the government in the National Assembly was actually aimed at ridiculing the judiciary.

He also accused her of nepotism, corruption and gross violation of various rules and regulations while allocating jobs to favourites, such as the appointment of Nawaz Khokkar as Federal Minister despite serious criminal charges against him. (For the full text of the Presidential proclamation, see Appendix I)


In her reaction to the dismissal, Ms. Bhutto said on November 6, 1996, that she would move the Supreme Court against her dismissal. She also called upon the President to resign to provide a level playing field to everyone in the coming elections. It was necessary, she asserted, to prove to everyone that his action had no ulterior motives. Addressing her first Press conference after her dismissal, Ms. Bhutto vigorously defended the performance of her government and subjected the President to harsh comments. She even suggested his involvement in the murder of her brother, Murtaza Bhutto.6

Interestingly, if we go by the editorials of the major newspapers, no one seems to have any sympathy towards Ms. Bhutto. While Nawa-i-Waqt talked in terms of the "need to adhere to the election schedule," Khabrain said, "It has been the misfortune of Pakistan, that in the name of people's government self-serving functionaries have continued to occupy the corridors of power, violating democratic norms, neglecting the people and engaging themselves in loot, plunder and malpractices."7

The largest circulated Jang felt "that Pakistan's image stands tarnished by the repeated dissolutions of the Assemblies and the dismissals of governments. Nepal's Prime Minister was on a visit to Pakistan, when Ms. Bhutto's government was dismissed. When he left Pakistan, curtailing his visit, no high ranking person was at the airport to see him off. Are we not conveying the message to the world that we have failed to provide a stable democratic system and have not shown responsibility in safeguarding our independence?"8

More or less similar sentiments were expressed by the elite English language Press too. All of them emphasised the need to hold free and fair elections. Only Dawn pleaded for carrying out a wholesale process of enforcement of accountability before the holding of elections.9 In other words, the Pakistani elite tacitly approved the need for the 8th Amendment in the Consitution and its usage by the President at his discretion.

Interim Government

Along with dismissing the government, President Leghari also announced a nine-member Cabinet headed by Meeraj Khalid, a PPP veteran, on November 5, 1996, itself. The details of the new Cabinet are as follows:

-- Malik Meeraj Khalid -- Prime Minister

-- Shahid Hamid -- Minister for Defence & Establishment

-- Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan -- Minister of Foreign Affairs

-- Momar Khan Afridi -- Minister of Interior and Kashmir Affairs, Narcotic Control and Federal Investigators.

-- Syeda Abida Hussain -- Minister of Education and Science & Technology

-- Shafqat Mahmood -- Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock

-- Irshad Ahmad Haqqani -- Minister of Information & Broadcasting

-- Sadiq N.K. Awan -- Minister of Industries and Production

-- Dr. Md. Zubair Khan -- Minister of Commerce

-- Javeed Jabbar -- Minister of Petroleum

A day later, on November 6, three more Ministers took oath of office raising the number of the Cabinet to 12. They are:

-- Malik Faridulah Khan -- Minister of Religious Affairs & Minorities

-- Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim -- Minister of Law & Justice

-- Abdullah Memon -- Minister of Water & Power

A close scrutiny of the interim government indicates that most of the Ministers happen to be close personal friends and collegemates of President Leghari. This in a way indicated that President Leghari was not willing to take any risk by appointing independent minded persons or outsiders like in 1993.

The caretaker Prime Minister, during a visit to Lahore on November 7, told the media, that the President will soon promulgate an ordinance on the accountability of politicians and the corrupt will be barred from politics and disqualified in the coming elections. He also assured the media persons that elections will be held within the stipulated 90 days (that is on February 3).

The interim government's work can broadly be divided into three categories: (i) bringing about the accountability aspect into the statute book; (ii) making preparations for holding free and fair elections; (iii) reviving the economy.

Ehtesab Commission

After considerable amount of debate, President Leghari promulgated on November 18, 1996, the Accountability Ordinance which envisages the appointment of a Chief Ehtesab (Accountability) Commissioner for preliminary scrutiny of reference against corrupt government officials and politicians and their trial by a High Court within two months. The ordinance is expected to eradicate corruption and corrupt practices from public offices. Giving the salient features of the Ehtesab Commissioner, the Law and Justice Minister, Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim observed, that the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner (CEC) would be appointed for a term of four years by the President, after consultation with the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. And the CEC shall be a person who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and shall not be eligible for any extension of tenure or for reappointment.

The law would apply to all officers in Grade 20 and above including armed forces personnel serving in civilian organisations and people holding public office. However, this law is not applicable to the President, Governors and officers serving in the armed forces (emphasis added).

The law carried a punishment of seven years in jail with disqualification from office for five years and dismissal from service for government servants (see Appendix II for details).

On November 20, 1996, it was announced that Mr. Justice (Retd) Ghulam Mujaddid Mirza was appointed as the first Chief Ehtesab Commissioner.

Talking about the ambit of authority of the Commission, Mr. Justice Mirza, told PTV on November 26, 1996, that it would take action on the cases filed by the government, complaints filed by the people and under its suo moto jurisdiction. And once cognisance of the matter is taken, it would go through the other three stages of inquiry, investigation and prosecution, if necessary.

A little over a month later, the interim government realised that the ordinance can create complications in the forthcoming elections. Therefore, it was decided that the ordinance be amended while the enquiry was on and such people can still contest the elections. Addressing Pressmen at Multan Press Club on December 20, 1996, the Federal Information Minister, Irshad Ahmad Haqqani said that all those against whom corruption cases are field, would be tried first and then if they are found guilty, automatically they would be disqualified from their seats.

Surprisingly, there was not much reaction to the Ehtesab exercise either way. In fact, the Nation editorial said that the uncertainty surrounding the discrete and contradictory time-table of the caretaker government, the Accountability Ordinance and the office of the CEC throws the whole exercise (of Ehtesab) in doubt. In fact, with the CEC returning most of the cases referred to him for lack of evidence, it lost much of its relevance.10

Economic Revivalism

According to the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs, Shahid Javed Burki, there are eight major factors which led to the present worst economic crisis in Pakistan. Speaking to newsmen in Islamabad on December 3, he said they are:

-- enormous expansion in money supply leading to uncontrollable inflation;

-- fall in foreign exchange reserves in a couple of months;

-- collapse of the public sector and uncontrolled government expenditure;

-- breakdown of fiscal discipline both at the central and provincial levels;

-- recession in the fundamental sector with almost 150 to 500 textile mills coming to a halt;

-- rampant corruption;

-- erosion of real income due to high inflation; and

-- massive unemployment.

Burki told newsmen that the Benazir government did not even try to address any of the major problems, which could have revived the economy. "If President Leghari had not taken the November 5 action, then the country's economy, which was already on crutches, would have collapsed.11

He went on to add that "there is no example of such economic downfall in the whole world during the last 50 years. The closest example of such economic downfall was the former Soviet Union, whose economy collapsed followed by its dismemberment."12

Meanwhile reports have also started appearing in the media about the conditions laid down by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to further extend a loan of $600 million, towards the Structural Readjustment Programme/Stand by Facility. According to Muslim, the IMF is demanding a substantial cut in defence expenditure including cancellation of some of the recently concluded deals. "IMF argues that the worsening economic situation should make Pakistan either cancel or at least postpone some of the major defence programmes such as the planned $2.4 billion deal of 30 Mirage-V. These conditionalities have come following the worsening of economic bills in June/July 1996. The IMF also voiced concern at the accumulation of external and internal debt to over Rs. (P) 1,700 billion during 1995-96 with the estimated debt servicing of Rs. (P) 174 billion in this period."13

The IMF has been persistently demanding that Islamabad should reduce the defence expenditure. During the current financial year (1996-97) Pakistan is spending 26 per cent of its total budget on defence, and debt servicing constituted 36 per cent. Simultaneously, the trade deficit also soared to $270 million in July 1996, up from $95 million in June 1996.14

Since the time at the disposal of the interim government was too short, and alteration in the defence expenditure is too sensitive, the interim government attempted only some cosmetic changes like drastic reductions in the non-developmental expenditure of the government; changing the heads of public sector financial institutions; and short term borrowing from the international market to tide over the immediate crisis.

In fact, the IMF was reluctant to release the further instalment of the loan committed until the new government is formed. Similarly, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has expressed its regrets that it cannot accede to Pakistan's request for $352 million loan saying that the matter could be considered after the new government assumes office after the February 3 elections.15

All these developments forced Pakistan to borrow $120 million from the Dubai-based Pakistani firm, A.R.Y. Traders, on December 8, 1996.16

Council for Defence and National Security

The Pakistani elite has always been toying with the idea of establishing a National Security Council (NSC) to legitimise the role of the armed forces in the functioning of the government. In fact, an NSC was established in 1971 at the time of the East Pakistan crisis but was disbanded in 1973 by the late Z.A. Bhutto when Martial Law was lifted and the 1973 Constitution was adopted. The late Z.A. Bhutto, however, had not revoked the Rules of Business.

The idea came up again in the mid-1980s under Zia-ul-Haq's rule. But the politicians were less than enthusiastic about the NSC. As a compromise formula, Zia brought in the 8th Amendment of the Constitution to keep the ultimate authority with him, as he perceived that he would be President for life. His unfortunate death in a plane crash and the subsequent developments never allowed the NSC to materialise.

It was finally left to President Farooq Leghari to implement the idea by creating an NSC under the name Council for Defence and National Security (CDNS) to make his position stronger in the turbulent Pakistani politics.

The Federal Cabinet decided on January 6, 1977, to constitute a CDNS to aid and advise the government. A notification to this effect was issued by the President exercising the powers conferred upon him under Articles 90 and 99 of the Constitution, amending the Rules of Business, 1973.

Explaining the prominent features of the council at a news conference, Federal Minister for Media Development Irshad Ahmad Haqqani said. "This body would have only recommendatory status and give matured advice to the government of the day." Its advice would not be binding on the government, he added. Replying to questions about the formation of the council, the Minister said, "This is not a supra-constitutional supra-parliament or supra-government body."17

He dispelled the impression that there were any differences between the President and the Prime Minister on the formation of the council. The decision to this effect was made by the Cabinet unanimously. He also disagreed with the contention that there was any question of sharing power with the armed forces. There was no such demand by the Army, he added. This council, he further explained, was not the type of body which was a brain-child of the late Gen Zia-ul-Haq. For such a council there would have been a constitutional amendment.

Haqqani further said the Constitution authorised the President to set up such a council. To another question, he said that if the future government would like to disband it, nobody is going to stop it. It does not overrule the authority of the elected government or the elected Assembly. He said it was not a constitutional body, but formed under the Constitution. Asked what the rationale was to form this council when the elections were going to take place after 26 days, he said the caretaker government considered it appropriate to do so at this stage. If the advice of the council was in the interest of the country, it would be accepted by the government in power, he said, adding its advice would not be of a binding nature.18

Asked when the council would have its first meeting, the Minister said there was no decision to this effect so far. Haqqani categorically denied the contention that the council may consider the question of delay in holding the elections. How it is possible, when the President had assured the nation time and again that the elections would be on time, he asked.19

Council's Task

The task of the council would be:

(1) There shall be a Council for Defence and National Security to aid and advise the government in: (a) determination of national strategy and fixation of priorities in terms of overall national security; (b) formulation of defence policy in accordance with the national strategic objectives and securing of assessment and plans for the fulfilment of the defence policy; (c) coordination of defence policy with external and domestic policies; (d) definition of the task of the armed forces of Pakistan in accordance with the national strategy; (e) economic and financial policies affecting defence and national security; (i) recommendations relating to internal security, proclamation of emergency and any other matter of national importance referred to the council.

Composition of Council

The council shall comprise: (i) the President and Supreme Commander of the armed forces; (ii) the Prime Minister; (iii) the Minister of Defence; (iv) the Minister for Foreign Affairs; (v) the Minister for Interior; (vi) the Minister/Adviser to the Prime Minister for Finance; (vii) Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee; (viii) Chief of the Army Staff; (ix) Chief of the Naval Staff; (x) Chief of the Air Staff.

The President shall chair the meetings of the council. The council shall meet as and when required. The Principal Secretary to the President shall be the Secretary of the council. The Cabinet Secretary, Defence Division Secretary and Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence will be regular in attendance .

Except for the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N) almost all the political parties opposed the creation of the CDNS at this juncture.

Election Process

Petitions Questioning the Validity of Dismissal

The first to file the petition challenging the Presidential Ordinance of November 5, 1996, dissolving the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies was the dissolved National Assembly Speaker, Yousaf Raza Gilani on November 11, 1996. Gilani invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 184 (3), which says: "Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 199, the Supreme Court shall, if it considers that a question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any of fundamental rights conferred by Chapter I, Part II is involved, have the power to make an order of the nature mentioned in the said Article."

Iftikhar Gilani, Advocate for the Speaker of the dissolved National Assembly prayed to the court that the President's order of November 5 dissolving the National Assembly be declared as without lawful authority, and of no legal effect and as a consequence of the above declaration, the National Assembly be ordered to be restored.20

On November 13, 1996, dismissed Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto prayed to the Supreme Court to set aside the Presidential Order of dissolving the National Assembly and dismissing her Cabinet. The petition was filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution like that of Gilani, and named President Leghari, the Federation of Pakistan through the Secretary of Law & Justice and the caretaker Prime Minister, Meeraj Khalid as the respondents.

She contended that the President's action under the discretionary powers smacks of malafide intentions and the Apex Court should declare it illegal and void. Referring to the Nawaz Sharif case of 1993, she also contended, that "there being no deadlock, no ceasing of functioning of anybody or authority, no breakdown, the Article 58(2) (b) cannot be applied."

The petition of Ms. Bhutto was, however, returned by the Apex Court on November 20 by the Registrar, on the ground that it was frivolous, scandalous and written in an argumentative manner and improper language was used for the President and Chief Justice.

Ms. Bhutto submitted a revised petition on November 21, 1996, with a letter expressing disagreement with the objections of the Registrar. The petition was again returned by the Registrar, saying that she could go on and appeal against the refusal of the Registrar to entertain her petition. The petitioner, however, decided to withdraw the letter accompanying the revised petition and the Supreme Court finally admitted it on November 24, 1996.21

After lengthy arguments, the 7-judge bench of the Supreme Court on January 29, 1997, upheld President Leghari's proclamation of November 5, 1996, dissolving the National Assembly and dismissing Benazir's government. Reading out the 12-page order, the Chief Justice said the Presidential order contained enough substance and adequate material had been provided to conclude that the government could not be run in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and an appeal to the electorate has become necessary. The verdict was six to one. The lone dissenting judge, Justice Zia Mahmood Mirza, said that the Presidential order was illegal and could not be sustained and the National Assembly, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet should be restored.22

While President Leghari said that this Supreme Court judgement was a milestone in Pakistan's democracy, Benazir reacted by saying that she expected it. "Every time when the PPP government is dismissed, it is right, when Z.A. Bhutto's government was dismissed, it was right, and when his daughter's government is dismissed it was right. But on the contrary, when the Nawaz Sharif government was dismissed, it was wrong," she said.23

Others felt this judgement made the President's office more powerful.


Before examining the February 1997 elections in Pakistan, three significant developments need to be noted. In an effort to cleanse the Pakistani polity, the interim government of Khalid amended the Representative of the People's Act of 1975 (RPA), through a Presidential Ordinance on December 5, 1996. The significant features of the amendment are:

For the first time in Pakistani polls, the word defection has been defined. Under the new amendment, defection has been defined as: a member shall be deemed to defect from a political party if he (i) votes in the Assembly contrary to direction issued by any political party to which he belongs or (ii) accepts any office of or under the government of a political party other than the one to which he belongs without obtaining prior permission in writing of the Parliamentary Party to which he belongs. However, if he abstains from voting, it will not be considered as defection. Though defection from one political party to another was considered an offence, under the RPA, it could not be implemented for want of a clear definition of defection.24

Simultaneously, the concept of default was broadened. Unlike, the previous amendment brought about by former caretaker Prime Minister Moeen Querishi in 1993, for banning loan defaulters from contesting elections, the new amendment imposed further restrictions. Under the 1993 amendment, loan defaulters of Rs. 1 million and above were banned from contesting. In the new amendment, no limit has been fixed and even a few rupees default can render the candidate disqualified. Besides, those who got their loans written off since 1985 will also come within the purview of defaulter.25

Law Minister Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim speaking to journalists on December 5, 1996, in Islamabad, further clarified, that anyone who had not paid his dues whether loans, utilities, taxes or government dues for the last one year would be considered a defaulter.

In the normal course, this new amendment should have disqualified a majority of the members of the dissolved National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies under the defaulters clause. In fact, the worst affected would have been the PML(N). Interestingly, the PML(N) was the first to protest against this RPA amendment.

Within days a fresh amendment was issued saying that if a court gives a stay against recovery, a person will not be considered a defaulter. The Law Minister Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim resigned from the caretaker Cabinet in protest against this new amendment on December 18, 1996. Speaking to the media, he observed that the new amendment undermined the impartiality of the caretakers. "We will be understood as partial and partisan and people will say we brought these changes only to favour a political party," he added.26

Second is the Army's unhappiness over the developments since the dismissal of Benazir's government on November 5, 1996. According to a report in The Nation, the Army, some time in December 1996, had advised President Farooq Leghari to form an "interim national security council" and appoint a new genuinely neutral and impartial caretaker set up to conduct the election on February 3, 1996. The Army also urged the President to stop vacillating on accountability and push ahead with corruption charges against politicians and bureaucrats.27

According to this report, President Leghari declined to go along on the plea that in such a scenario the whole set-up, including himself, will have to go. The report goes on to add, that Leghari has made it easier for Nawaz Sharif to win by amending the accountability process so that he and other PML(N) candidates are not declared defaulters on bank loans and barred from contesting elections. "The PML leaders say Mr Leghari is already trying to force Mr Nawaz Sharif to nominate some of the President nominees to the Nawaz Cabinet," the report added.28

In other words, the Pakistani President came under severe criticism for his partiality towards the PML(N), even by the armed forces. At the same time, the President was ensuring that other political parties, including the PPP, do not stage a comeback.

Lastly, the credibility of the President and the elections was further eroded with the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and some other religious political parties threatening to boycott the elections. Though in terms of electoral politics their influence is marginal, some of the issues they raised are significant. In an interview with the News, JI Chief Quazi Hussain Ahmed said that the census of Pakistan has not been held for ages, the voters' list are outdated and bogus national identity cards are in circulation. Moreover, migratory identity cards have been issued. The caretakers should address these problems first for holding free and fair elections.29

In this backdrop, the Election Commission announced simultaneous polls for the National Assembly and Province Assemblies according to the following schedule: filing of nomination papers from December 16-21; scrutiny of nomination papers from December 26-28; appeals against selection or rejection, up to December 31; final lists of candidates on January 9, 1997; and elections on February 3, 1997.

According to the final list of candidates published by the Election Commission, a total of 1,755 candidates--854 put up by 53 recognised political parties and 90 independents--are in the run for 217 National Assembly seats. The provincial break up shows that 718 candidates will fight for 115 NA seats from Punjab, 470 candidates for 46 Sindh seats, 176 candidates for 26 NWFP seats, 94 contestants for 11 Balochistan seats, 297 candidates for eight seats of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and five for the solitary Islamabad seat.30 For the Provincial Assemblies, 1,872 candidates will contest for 240 constituencies in Punjab, 1,254 for 100 constituencies in Sindh, 636 for 80 constituencies in NWFP and 449 for 40 constituencies in Balochistan. Two hundred and fifteen non-Muslims will contest 23 seats in the Assemblies.31

Manifestos of Major Political Parties

Pakistan Muslim League (N)

The Pakistan Muslim League (N) manifesto has renewed its commitment to work for self-reliance, merit and economic revival of the country on which it would reform the financial institutions on an emergency basis. It also pledges to adopt prudent fiscal policies to bring down the rate of inflation in the country and to resort to a major overhaul of the tax collecting machinery.

The 20-page document, along with economic reforms in all the major sectors of the economy, vows to entrust the management of the financial institutions of the country to honest and competent people, and realise the bank dues which have increased from Rs. 82 billion in 1993 to Rs. 125 billion in 1996. The document also ensures autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Besides, the manifesto also assures acceleration of privatisation and liberalisation of trade laws. However, the manifesto stops short of recommending imposition of direct income tax on agriculture or introducing any land reforms. Issues like the 8th Amendment and population control have also been omitted.

Pakistan's People's Party

The PPP manifesto, on the other hand, dealt with some specific issues. In the manifesto entitled "Follow the Arrow (PPP's election symbol) to the Asian Century," the PPP agenda for 1997-2002 includes across the board accountability with Parliament as fountainhead, increases the number of NA and Provincial Assembly seats, census under the supervision of the judiciary and provision of certain seats in the NA and Provincial Assemblies on the basis of proportional representation.

The economic agenda of the PPP also includes decreasing tax rates in the 1997 budget so as to encourage people to pay taxes, and better collection methods. It also promises maintaining a stable macro-economic framework by keeping a low budget deficit, prudent expansion of money supply, equilibrium in balance of payments and stability in prices.

Grassroots changes in banks and financial institutions will be instituted, says the manifesto; and except for the National Bank of Pakistan, all the banks will be privatised.

The manifesto also talks in terms of reduction in defence expenditure through a mutual arms reduction treaty with India while fully supporting the armed forces' modernisation programme.

On the foreign policy front, the party visualises resolution of the Kashmir issue, and friendship with China remains the cornerstone of its foreign policy.

The other highlights of the 62-page manifesto are:

-- Scrapping the 8th Amendment of the Constitution.

-- Reducing the term of the President, PM and Parliament to four years, while the Senators' term remains five years.

Pakistan Tehrik Insaf

The former Pakistan test cricketer Imran Khan led the Pakistan Tehrik Insaf (PTI) party whose manifesto contained 14 points. These include:

1. Establishment of an exemplary Islamic, social and welfare state to complete the mission of Quaid-e-Azam.

2. Quick and cheap justice.

3. Elimination of corruption and exemplary punishment to the corruption mafia.

4. Education emergency.

5. Vast investments to solve unemployment.

6. Expansion of tax base, reduction in tax rates.

7. Giving respect and honour to women and protection of their rights.

8. Eradication of federalism, making radical changes in the police station system and the Patwar system.

9. Provision of basic needs of life like health and clean drinking water.

The manifestos of the three major political parties, the PML(N), PPP and PTI, clearly show that weeding out corruption and reviving the economy were common to all the three parties and on top of the agendas of all the political parties. However, the PPP and PTI were categorical in stating that the controversial 8th Amendment to the 1973 Constitution will be repealed if they come in to power and in the process, they took a confrontationist posture with President Leghari. The PML(N), sensing that the decks are being cleared for it to come back to power, played safe by making a public statement that all these issues will be debated in the National Assembly; and Parliament would decide which way to go. In fact, later the PML(N) chief, Nawaz Sharif went a step further by announcing that the 8th Amendment and CDNS are not his priority issues; and revival of the economy is his party's first task.


The following are the final results of the major parties announced by the Election Commission on February 4.32 The Election Commission also announced that the poll turnout of February 3 was around 37 per cent33 as against 42 per cent in the 1993 elections.

National Assembly

1997 election 1993 election

Total seats 217 217

PML(N) 134 72

PPP 19 86

MQAM (HPG) 12 --

ANP 9 3

BNP 3 1

NWFP Assembly

1997 election 1993 election

Total seats 80 79

PML(N) 31 15

PPP 4 22

ANP 28 21

JUI 1 --

Ind and Others 13 11

Punjab Assembly

1997 election 1993 election

Total seats 240 240

PML(N) 211 106

PPP 2 94

Ind 22 17

Others 3 23

Sindh Assembly

1997 election 1993 election

Total seats 100 99

PML(N) 14 8

PPP 34 56

MQM-PG 29 --

PPP-SB 2 --

NPP 3 --

Ind & Others 15 35

Balochistan Assembly

1997 election 1993 election

Total seats 40 40

PMLN) 4 6

PPP 1 3

BNP 10 --

JWP 6 --

JUI(F) 5 --

Ind & Others 12 31

Note: Total seats and party-wise position may not always tally as only major parties are listed.

The elections were significant in two ways. With the Army deployed in full strength, there were virtually no untoward incidents at the time of polling. In fact, according to independent observers, the polls went off smoothly and peacefully. At the same time, with only 37 per cent turnout of the total electorate, the people's apathy towards the elections became evident. If we compare it with the past elections, this appears to be the lowest turnout. According to The Nation, the mandate of the PML(N) was the largest in the history of Pakistan. The PML(N) would get a two-thirds majority federal government on its own if it manages to win over eight FATA members and even three of the 10 minority members who traditionally side with the ruling party.

The election results also clearly indicate that a considerable support base of the PPP got completely eroded, even in places like Sindh. Interestingly, the entire PPP loss was taken away by the PML(N) at both the national and provincial levels. In addition, except in Balochistan, in the remaining three provinces, the PML(N) is likely to form the government.

To sum up, one more chapter has begun in the chequered history of Pakistan to have a functioning democracy. How long this mandate will be allowed to last is difficult to speculate about at this point of time. However, one can say that the PML(N) assumes office with more constraints than the last time. Therefore, one need not expect any spectacular results immediately from the new government. The acid test for the PML(N) would be when it takes up some substantive issues like repealing the 8th Amendment to the Constitution or the abolition of the CDNS. In fact, even economic issues have become very tricky in Pakistan today. For instance, will the PML(N) government be willing to impose the controversial agricultural income tax or reduce defence expenditure? If the PML(N) is able to bring in an element of financial discipline that is badly needed in today's Pakistan, that by itself, will be a major achievement.

With the sectarian unrest resurfacing in a big way after the election results, the beginning seems to be not too auspicious. And Pakistan's neighbours are watching the developments quite anxiously. In fact, people in India feel that successive elected governments in Pakistan have never enjoyed any autonomy in foreign policy; and the foreign policy agenda is always set by the armed forces only. The new tenure of Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister, is not going to be different in any way. Since India has acquired the needed capability to deal with the extraordinary set-up in Pakistan, any new breakthrough by Nawaz Sharif and his PML(N), will be considered as a major step to improve India-Pak relations. Meanwhile, the pleasantries and polite words being exchanged between the heads of the two governments are being considered as spring blues only and nothing more than that. India's dilemma regarding whom to deal with in Pakistan—America, the Army or Allah, because in reality, these three decide the destiny of Pakistan--remains unchanged.

Appendix I

Text of Presidential Proclamation

Whereas during the last three years thousands of persons in Karachi and other parts of Pakistan have been deprived of their right to life in violation of Article 9 of the Constitution. They have been killed in police encounters and police custody. In the speech to Parliament on October 29, 1995, the President had warned that the law-enforcing agencies must ensure that there was no harassment of innocent citizens in the fight against terrorism and that human and legal rights of all persons were duly protected. This advice was not heeded. The killings continued unabated. The government's fundamental duty to maintain law and order has to be performed by proceeding in accordance with law. The coalition of political parties which comprise the government of the Federation are also in power in Sindh, Punjab and NWFP but no meaningful steps have been taken either by the government of the Federation or, at the instance of the government of the Federation, by the provincial governments, to put an end to the crime of extra-judicial killings which is an evil abhorrent to our Islamic faith and all canons of civilised government.

Extra-Judicial Killings

Instead of ensuring proper investigation of these extra-judicial killings, and punishment for those guilty of such crimes, the government has taken pride that, in this manner, the law and order situation has been controlled. These killings coupled with the fact of widespread interference by the members of the government, including members of the ruling parties in the National Assembly, in the appointment, transfer and posting of officers and staff to the law-enforcing agencies, both at the Federal and provincial levels, has destroyed the faith of the public in the integrity and impartiality of the law-enforcing agencies and in their ability to protect the lives, liberties and properties of the average citizen.

Murtaza's Killing

And whereas on September 20, 1996, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, the brother of the Prime Minister, was killed at Karachi alongwith seven of his companions including the brother-in-law of a former Prime Minister, ostensibly in an encounter with the Karachi police. The Prime Minister and her government claimed that Murtaza Bhutto has been murdered as a part of a conspiracy. Within days of Murtaza Bhutto's death the Prime Minister appeared on the television insinuating that the Presidency and other agencies of the state were involved in this conspiracy. These malicious insinuations, which were repeated on different occasions, were made without any factual basis whatsoever. Although the Prime Minister subsequently denied that the Presidency or the armed forces were involved, the situation of the Presidency, which represents the unity of the Republic, was undermined and damage caused to the reputation of the agencies entrusted with the sacred duty of defending Pakistan. In the events that have followed, the widow of Mir Murtaza Bhutto and the friends and supporters of the deceased have accused ministers of the government, including the spouse of the Prime Minister, the Sindhi Chief Minister, the Director of the Intelligence Bureau and other high officials of involvement in the conspiracy which, the Prime Minister herself alleges, led to Mir Murtaza Bhutto's murder.

A situation has thus arisen in which justice, which is a fundamental requirement of our Islamic society, cannot be ensured because powerful members of the Federal and provincial governments who are themselves accused of the crime, influence and control the law enforcing agencies entrusted with the duty of investigating the offences and bringing to book the conspirators.

Verdict on Judges Case

And whereas on March 20, 1996 the Supreme Court delivered its judgment in the case popularly known as the appointment of judges case. The Prime Minister ridiculed this judgment in a speech before the National Assembly which was shown more than once on nationwide television. The implementation of the judgement was resisted and deliberately delayed in violation of the constitutional mandate that all executive and judicial authorities throughout Pakistan shall act in aid of the Supreme Court.

The directions of the Supreme Court with regard to regularisation and removal of judges of the High Courts were finally implemented on September 30, 1996 with a deliberate delay of six months and 10 days and only after the President informed the Prime Minister that if advice was not submitted in accordance with the judgment by end of September 1996 then the President would himself proceed further in this matter to fulfil the constitutional requirement.

The government has, in this manner, not only violated Article 190 of the Constitution but also sought to undermine the independence of the judiciary guaranteed by Article 2A of the Constitution read with the Objectives Resolution.

Assault on Judicial Organ

And whereas the sustained assault on the judicial organ of the state has continued under the garb of a Bill moved in Parliament for the prevention of corrupt practices. This Bill was approved by the cabinet and introduced in the National Assembly without informing the President as required under Article 46(c) of the Constitution. The Bill proposes inter alia that on a motion moved by 15 per cent of the total membership of the National Assembly, that is any 32 members, a judge of the Supreme Court or High Court can be sent on forced leave. Thereafter, if on reference made by the proposed special committee, the Special Prosecutor appointed by such Committee, forms the opinion that the judge is prima facie guilty of criminal misconduct, the special committee is to refer this opinion to the National Assembly which can, by passing a vote of no-confidence, remove the judge from office.

The decision of the cabinet is evidently an attempt to destroy the independence of the judiciary guaranteed by Article 2A of the Constitution and the Objectives Resolution. Further, as the government does not have a two-thirds majority in Parliament and as the opposition parties have openly and vehemently opposed the Bill approved by the cabinet, the government's persistence with the Bill is designed not only to embarrass and humiliate the superior judiciary but also to frustrate and set at naught all efforts made, including the initiative taken by the President, to combat corruption and to commence the accountability process.

And whereas the judiciary has still not been fully separated from the executive in violation of the provisions of Article 175(3) of the Constitution and the deadline for such separation fixed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Right of Privacy

And whereas the Prime Minister and her government have deliberately violated on a massive scale the fundamental right of privacy guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution. This has been done through illegal phone tapping and eavesdropping techniques. The phones which have been tapped and the conversations that have been monitored in this unconstitutional manner include the phones and conversations of judges of the superior courts, leaders of political parties and high-ranking military and civil officers.

And whereas corruption, nepotism and violation of rules in the administration of the affairs of the government and its various bodies, authorities and corporations have become so extensive and widespread that the orderly functioning of the government in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the law has become impossible and in some cases, national security has been endangered.

Public faith in the integrity and honesty of the government has disappeared. Members of the government and the ruling parties are either directly or indirectly involved in such corruption, nepotism and rule violations.

Violation of Law

Innumerable appointments have been made at the instance of members of the National Assembly in violation of the law declared by the Supreme Court that allocation of quotas to MNAs and MPAs for recruitment to various posts was offensive to the Constitution and the law and that all appointments were to be made on merit, honestly and objectively and in the public interest. The transfers and postings of government employees have similarly been made, in equally large numbers, at the behest of members of the National Assembly and other members of the ruling parties. The members have violated their oaths of office and the government has not for three years taken any effective steps to ensure that the legislators do not interfere in the orderly executive functioning of the government.

And whereas the constitutional requirement that the cabinet together with the ministers of state shall be collectively responsible to the National Assembly has been violated by the induction of a minister against whom criminal cases are pending which the Interior Minister has refused to withdraw. In fact, at an earlier stage, the Interior Minister had announced his intention to resign if the former was inducted into the cabinet. A cabinet in which one minister is responsible for the prosecution of a cabinet colleague cannot be collectively responsible in any manner whatsoever.

Sale of Shares

And whereas in the matter of the sale of Burmah Castrol shares in PPL and BONE/PPL shares in Qadirpur Gas Field involving national assets valued in several billions of rupees, the President required the Prime Minister to place the matter before the cabinet for consideration/re-consideration of the decision taken in this matter by the EEC. This has still not been done, despite lapse of over four months, in violation of the provisions of Articles 46 and 48 of the Constitution.

And whereas for the foregoing reasons, taken individually and collectively, I am satisfied that a situation 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.

Now, therefore, in exercise of my powers under Article 58(2)(b) of the Constitution I, Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, do hereby dissolve the National Assembly with immediate effect and the Prime Minister and her cabinet shall cease to hold office forthwith.

Further, in exercise of my powers under Article 48(5) of the Constitution, I hereby appoint February 3, 1997 as the date on which general elections shall be held to the National Assembly.

Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, President.

No. 178/1 President, dated November 5, 1996.

Appendix II

Text of Ehtesab Ordinance

Text: Ordinance No. CXI of 1996, an Ordinance to eradicate corruption and corrupt practices from public offices.

Whereas it is expedient to provide for eradication of corruption and corrupt practices from public offices and to provide for effective measures for prosecution and speedy disposal of cases involving corruption and corrupt practices and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.

And whereas the National Assembly is not in session and the President is satisfied that circumstances exist which tender it necessary to take immediate action.

Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (1) of Article 89 of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President is pleased to make and promulgate the following Ordinance.

1. Short Title, Application and Commencement.

(1) This Ordinance may be called the Ehtesab Ordinance, 1996.

(2) It shall apply to the holders of public offices from the 31st day of December, 1985.

(3) It shall come into force at once.

2. Definitions

In this Ordinance, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject of context

(a) "appropriate government" means the Federal government in relation to a person serving in connection with the affairs of the Federation and any other person employed by the Federal government or by a corporation , body, bank, financial institution, undertaking or other organisation set up, controlled or administered by, or under the authority of the Federal government or in other cases, the provincial government concerned;

(b) "Chief Ehtesab Commissioner" means the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner appointed under Section 13;

(c) "Code" means the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898);

(d) "Court" means a bench of three judges of the high court;

(e) "freezing" includes attachment, sealing prohibition, transfer, conversion, disposal, holding, controlling or managing any property, either through a receiver or otherwise, and in the case of property being livestock or perishable goods, disposal thereof;

(f) "holder of public office" means a person who:

(i) has been the President or the Governor of a province;

(ii) is, or has been, the Prime Minister, Senate Chairman, National Assembly Speaker, Senate Deputy Chairman, National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Federal Minister, Minister of State, Attorney-General and other law officers appointed under the Central Law Officers Ordinance, 1970 (VII of 1970), Adviser to the Prime Minister, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Federal Parliamentary Secretary, Member of Parliament, Auditor-General, Political Secretary, Adviser or Consultant to the Prime Minister, Federal Minister, Minister of State or attached with any post or office with the rank or status of a Federal Minister or Minister of State;

(iii) is, or has been , the Chief Minister, Provincial Minister, Adviser to the Chief Minister, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister, Provincial Parliamentary Secretary, member of the Provincial Assembly, Advocate-General, including Additional Advocates-General and Assistant Advocates-General, Political Secretary, Adviser or Consultant to the Chief Minister, provincial Minister or attached to any department of the province, holder of a post or office with rank or status of a provincial Minister.

(iv) is, or has held an office or post in Basic Pay Scale 20 or above in the service of Pakistan or any service in connection with the affairs of the Federation or of a province or in equivalent pay scale of management incorporations, banks, financial institutions, firms, concerns, undertakings or any other institution or organisation established, controlled or administered by or under the Federal government or a provincial government other than an officer who is a member of the armed forces, or for the time being is subjected to any law relating to any of those forces except an officer of armed forces who is holding, or has held an equivalent post or office in any public corporation, bank, financial institution, undertaking or other organisation established, controlled or administered by or under the Federal government or a provincial government;

(f) "offences" means the offence of corruption and corrupt practices; and

(h) "property" includes any or all movable and immovable properties, situated within or outside Pakistan.

3. Corruption and Corrupt Practices

(1) A holder of public office or any other person is said to commit the offence of corruption and corrupt practices

(a) if he accepts or obtains from any person any gratification other than legal remuneration, as a motive or reward such as is specified in Section 161 of the Pakistan Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860), or for doing or forbearing to do any official act or for showing or forbearing to show the exercise of his official functions, favour or disfavour to any person, or for rendering or attempting to render any service or disservice to any person;

(b) if he accepts or obtains any valuable thing without consideration or for a consideration which he knows to be inadequate from any person whom he knows to have been, or likely to be, concerned in any proceeding or business transacted or about to be transacted by him, of having any connection with his official functions, or from any person whom he knows to be interested in or related to the person so concerned; or

(c) if he dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriates or otherwise converts for his own use or for the use of any other person any property entrusted to him or under his control as a holder of public office or wilfully allows any other person so to do; or

(d) if he, by corrupt, dishonest, improper or illegal means obtains or seeks for himself or for any other person any property, valuable thing, pecuniary advantage or undue favour; or

(e) if he or any of his dependents or benamidars are in possession of any movable or immovable property or pecuniary resources, disproportionate to his known sources of income which he cannot reasonably account for; or

(f) if he commits or causes rigging of election.

Explanation: For the purposes of this section, reference to property acquired by improper means shall be construed as a reference to property acquired by means which are contrary to law, rule, usage or instruction having the force of law or by abuse of official position or by coercion, undue influence, fraud or misrepresentation within the meaning of the Contract Act 1872 (IX of 1872).

(2) Where within 10 days from the commencement of this Ordinance, a holder of public office or a person specified in sub-clause (iv) of clause (f) of Section 2, makes a full and complete declaration, in writing, to the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner or any officer or authority authorised by him, of any property, assets, benefits or gains acquired by him through corruption and corrupt practices and voluntarily returns such property, assets, benefits or gains to the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner within one month from such declaration, no penal action under this Ordinance or any other law for the time being in force shall be taken against him.

Provided that he shall be disqualified to hold any representative office for a period of five years and where he is a person specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (1) he shall cease to hold his office or post, as the case may be.

(3) All offences under this Ordinance shall be non-bailable.

4. Punishment for Corrupt Practices

(1) A person who commits the offence of corruption and corrupt practices shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both, and such of the movable or immovable property of such person, whether in his name or in the name of his dependent or benamidar obtained through such offence during the tenure of his office, shall be liable to be forfeited to the appropriate government.

Provided that, where any person is convicted for an offence under clause (e) of section 3, the property, concluding bank deposits, found to be disproportionate to known sources of his income shall be forteited to the appropriate government.

(2) A person giving illegal gratification, or abetting, assisting or aiding a holder of public office or a beneficiary of any asset, property or gain through corruption or corrupt practices shall be within the meaning of this section and shall be liable to the same punishment as is awarded to a holder of public office.

5. Imposition of Fine

Where a person found guilty of an offence is sentenced to fine, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law and irrespective of whether or not a sentence of imprisonment is imposed, the amount of fine shall in no case be less than the gain derived by the accused.

6. Power of Court to Freeze Property

(1) The court trying a holder of public office for an offence under this Ordinance may, at any time, if there appear reasonable grounds for believing that the accused has committed such offence, order the freezing of his property, movable or immovable, or both, whether in his possession or in the possession of any person on his behalf.

(2) If the property ordered to be frozen under subsection (1) is a debt or other movable property, the freezing may be made

(a) by seizure; or

(b) by appointment of a receiver; or

(c) by prohibiting the delivery of such property to the accused or to anyone on his behalf; or

(d) by all or any of such methods as the Court may think fit.

(3) If the property ordered to be frozen is immovable, the freezing shall, in the case of land paying revenue, be made through the Collector of the district in which the land is situated, and in all other cases.

(a) by taking possession; or

(b) by appointment of a receiver; or

(c) by prohibiting the payment of rent or delivery of property to the accused or to any one on his behalf; or

(d) by all or any of such methods, as the Court may deem fit.

(4) If the property ordered to be frozen consists of livestock or is of perishable nature, the Court may, if it thinks expedient, order immediate sale thereof and in such a case, the proceeds of the sale may be invested in such government securities or government-sponsored saving schemes as the Court may direct.

(5) The powers, duties and liabilities of a receiver appointed under this section shall be the same as those of a receiver appointed under Order XL of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (Act V of 1908).

7. Claim or Objection Against Freezing

(1) All claims or objections against the freezing of any property under section 6 shall be made within 30 days from the date of the order freezing such property.

Provided that, where a person satisfied the Court that he had sufficient cause for not making the claim or objection within such period, the Court may admit such claim or objection, as the case may be, after that period.

Provided further that any claim or objection made within the period allowed under this sub-section may, in the event of the death of a claimant or objector, be continued by his legal representatives.

(2) The Court may, after such inquiry as it may deem fit, allow or disallow any claim or objection in whole or in part.

(3) Where the Court allows any claim or objection in whole or in part, it shall make an order releasing the property or any part thereof, as the case may be, from freezing.

8. Presumption of Accepting Illegal Graft

(1) Where in any trial of an offence punishable under sections 161 to 165 of the Pakistan Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860), it is provided that an accused person has accepted or obtained, or has agreed to accept or attempted to obtain, for himself or for any other person, any gratification, other than legal remuneration, or any valuable thing or any pecuniary advantage from a person, or any agent of a person, for any favour shown or promised to be shown by the accused, it shall be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that he accepted or obtained, or agreed to accept or attempted to obtain, the gratification or that valuable thing or pecuniary advantage for himself or some other person, as the case may be, as a motive or reward such as is specified in sections 161 to 163 of the said Code, or, as the case may be, without consideration or for a consideration which he believed to be inadequate.

(2) Where in any trial of an offence punishable under section 165A of the Pakistan Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860), it is proved that any gratification other than legal remuneration or any valuable thing has been given or offered to be given or attempted to be given by any accused person, it shall be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that he gave or offered to give or attempted to give that gratification or that valuable thing, as the case may be, as motive or reward such as is specified in sections 161 to 163 of the said Code, or, as the case may be without consideration or for a consideration which he believed to be inadequate.

(3) In any trial of an offence punishable under this Ordinance, the fact that the accused person or any other person on his behalf is in possession, for which the accused person cannot satisfactorily account, of property or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, or that such person has, on or about the time of the commission of the offence with which he is charged, obtained an accretion to his pecuniary resources or property for which he cannot satisfactorily account, the Court shall presume, unless the contrary is proved, that the accused person is guilty of the offence of corruption and corrupt practices and his conviction, therefore, shall not be invalid by reason only that it is based solely on such presumption.

9. Disqualification to Contest Elections

Disqualification to contest elections.

Where a person is convicted for an offence of corruption and corrupt practices, the Court may, keeping in view the nature and gravity of the offence, direct that the holder of public office shall stand disqualified for the period specified in sub-clause (h) of clause (1) of Article 63 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan from being elected or chosen as a member of Parliament or a provincial assembly.

Provided that where the convicted person is a Member of Parliament or provincial assembly, the Court may direct that such person shall cease to be such member on his conviction under this Ordinance.

10. Offence to be Exclusively Triable by Court

Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code, or in any other law for the time being in force, an offence punishable under this Ordinance shall exclusively be triable by a Bench of three Judges of the High Court and the case shall be heard day to day and disposed of within 60 days.

Provided that where the delay in the trial is occasioned by act or omission of the accused or any other person acting on his behalf, the Court may direct that the accused shall cease to perform the functions of his office either till the conclusion of the trial or for such period as the Court may direct.

Explanation: In this section, "High Court" means the High Court within the jurisdiction of which the holder of public office is being proceeded against

(i) was elected as a member of Parliament or a Provincial Assembly; or

(ii) resides, if such holder of public office is a person specified in sub-clause (i) or sub-clause (iv) of clause (f) of section 2.

11. Disciplinary Action May Continue

Where the holder of public office is a person specified in sub-clause (iv) of clause (f) of section 2, nothing shall be deemed to prevent the appropriate government from taking disciplinary action against such holder of public office.

12. Provision of Code to Apply

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, unless there is anything inconsistent with the provisions of this Ordinance, the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898), shall mutatis mutandis, apply to the proceedings under this Ordinance.

(2) The previous statement of the witnesses to be examined for the prosecution at the trial shall be supplied to the accused at least one week before the commencement of the trial.

13. Chief Ehtesab Commissioner

(1) There shall be a Chief Ehtesab Commissioner to be appointed for a term of four years by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and the Chief Justice of Pakistan for the purposes of inquiries, investigation and prosecution into allegations of corruption and corrupt practices under this Ordinance.

Provided that where such appointment is to be made when the National Assembly stands dissolved, the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner may be appointed after consultation with the caretaker Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

(2) The Chief Ehtesab Commissioner shall be person who is, or has been a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and shall not be eligible for any extension of tenure or for reappointment.

(3) The Chief Ehtesab Commissioner shall not hold any office of profit in the service of Pakistan before the expiration of two years after he has ceased to hold that office, nor he shall be eligible during the tenure of office for a period of two years thereafter for election as a member of Parliament or a Provincial Assembly or any local body or take part in any political activity.

(4) The Chief Ehtesab Commissioner may resign from his office by writing under his hand addressed to the President.

(5) The Chief Ehtesab Commissioner shall be entitled to the same salary and privileges as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

(6) The Chief Ehtesab Commissioner may be removed from his office on the ground of misconduct or being incapable of performing the duties of his office in the manner specified under Article 209 of the Constitution.

(7) Where the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner is appointed from amongst the sitting Judges of the Supreme Court, on his resignation from office or on relinquishment of his office for any reason other than his removal under sub-section (6), the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner shall assume the office of such Judge, if in the meantime he has not attained the age of 65 years.

14. Cognisance of Offences

(1) The court shall not take cognisance of an offence under this Ordinance except on a reference made by the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner.

(2) A reference under this Ordinance shall be initiated by the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner on

(i) a reference received from the appropriate government; or

(ii) receipt of a complaint;

(iii) his own accord.

(3) Where the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner initiates proceedings under this Ordinance against the holder of a public office, he shall require the appropriate government or the complainant for proof and details of other evidence in support of allegations against the holder of public office and for that purpose cause attendance of any person or authority.

(4) Upon receipt of a reference or a complaint or where the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner initiates action on his own accord, he may institute such inquiry and investigation through any person or authority as he may deem fit.

Provided that no officer below the rank of Inspector of Police shall investigate any offence under this Ordinance.

Provided further that where an inquiry or investigation is made by a person other than a police officer, such person shall exercise all powers conferred under the Code on a officer in charge of a police station.

(5) The Chief Ehtesab Commissioner shall complete the inquiry and investigation under this section within one month.

(6) Where the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner is of the opinion that a prima facie case is made out against the holder of public office he shall refer such case to the Court and for that purpose appoint a Special Prosecutor for conducting the trial.

(7) Where the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner is of the opinion that a prima facie case is not made out against the holder of public office, he shall reject the reference or, as the case may be the complaint and record his reasons for such rejection.

15. Voluntary Return

Where before the commencement of the trial or at any time with the leave of the Court, the holder of public office or any other person specified in sub-section (2) of section 4 voluntarily returns to the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner, the property, asset, gain acquired through corruption or corrupt practices, the Court may not proceed with the trial subject to such conditions as to fine or penalty as may be imposed by the Court and he resigns from the representative office or, if he is a person specified in sub-clause (v) of clause (f) of section 2, he accepts termination from his service.

16. Accused May be Arrested in Certain Cases

(1) Where a reference is made to the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner under clause (i) of sub-section (2) of section 14, such reference shall be deemed to be an information recorded under section 154 of the Code.

Provided that no arrest of a holder of public office accused of an offence under this Ordinance shall be made without the prior written approval of the Chief Ehtesab Commmissioner.

Provided further that a holder of a public office who is proceeded against in consequence of complaint made under clause (ii) or by the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner under clause (iii) of sub-section (2) of section 14, no order for arrest of such person shall be made unless a reference is made to the Court under sub-section (4) of section 14.

(2) Where a holder of public office accused of any offence under this Ordinance is produced before a judicial magistrate for police custody under Section 167 of the code, shall not authorise the detention of such holder of public office in such custody for a term exceeding 14 days in the whole.

17. Special Prosecutor

The Chief Ehtesab Commissioner may, in consultation with the Ministry of Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Pakistan, appoint Special Prosecutors for conducting prosecution of cases under this Ordinance and determine their terms and conditions.

18. Power of Ehtesab Commissioner to Seek Help

(1) The Chief Ehtesab Commissioner shall have the power to seek assistance and call for documents and information relevant to any proceedings pending before it under this Ordinance from any department of the Federal government or a provincial government, local authority, bank or any other person or authority and it shall be the duty of such department, local authority, bank person or authority to render such assistance or furnish such document or information as he may require.

(2) Any document or information called for under sub-section (1) shall only be used for the purpose of this Ordinance and shall not be made available to such other person.

19. Appointment of Ehtesab Commission of Staff

(1) The members of the staff and offices of the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner shall be appointed by the Federal government in concurrence with the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner.

(2) The members of the staff and office of the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner shall be entitled to such salary, allowances and other terms and conditions of service as may be determined by the Federal government having regard to the salary, allowances and other terms and conditions of service that may, for the time being be admissible to other employees of the Federal government in the corresponding pay scales.

20. Power to Punish for Contempt

The Chief Ehtesab Commissioner shall have the same powers, mutatis mutandis, as the Supreme Court has to punish any person for its contempt who

(a) abuses, interferes with, impedes, imperils, or obstructs the process of the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner in any way or disobeys the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner;

(b) scandalises the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner or otherwise does anything which tends to bring the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner or any person authorised by the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner in relation to his office, into hatred, ridicule or contempt.

(c) does anything which tends to prejudice the determination of a matter pending before the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner;

(d) does any other thing which, by any other law, constitutes contempt of court.

Provided that fair comments made in good faith and in public interest on the working of the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner or any of his staff, or on the report of the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner after the completion of the investigation shall not constitute contempt of the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner or his office.

(2) Any person sentenced under sub-section (1) may within 30 days of the passing of the order, appeal to the Supreme Court.

21. Accused to be a Competent Witness

Any person charged with an offence punishable under this Ordinance shall be a competent witness for the defence and may give evidence on oath in disproof of the charges made against him or any person charged together with him at the same trial;

Provided that the accused shall not be compelled to be a witness against himself;

Provided further that where an accused appears as a witness on his own choice and refuses to answer any question, the Court may draw such adverse inference from such refusal as it may think fit.

22. Complainant to be Rewarded

Where as a result of a complaint made by a private individual against holder of a public office under clause (ii) of sub-section (2) of section 14 such holder of public office is convicted by the Court and his conviction is maintained in appeal, the complainment may be entitled to such reward as may be determined by the Court, or as the case may be, the Supreme Court;

Provided that where such complaint proves to be false, malafide, or is made for any ulterior motive or to provide financial or any other benefit to another person, the complainant shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both.

23. Cognisance of False Evidences

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the preceding provision or any other law already in force, on pronouncement of the judgement, the Court shall have jurisdiction and power to take cognisance of an offence committed in the course of the investigation or trial of a case tried under this Ordinance, by a police officer, a witness, including an expert, who has tendered false opinion in a case relating to a matter converted by him specifically, whether he deposed in Court or not, or any other person, under section 176 to 182 of Chapter X, or section 191 to 204, or 211 to 223, or 225-A of chapter XI, of the Pakistan Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860), or under any other law relating to false evidence and offences against public justice, and to summarily try him and award punishment provided for the offence under the law.

(2) For the purpose of trial under sub-section (1), the Court may, as nearly as may be, follow the procedure specified in chapter XXII of the code.

(3) The proceedings under sub-section (i) may be initiated by the Court on its own accord after the decision of the appeal, if any, or on an application made by the Special Prosecutor or the person accused of an offence tried by the Court, within 30 days from the order in appeal;

Provided that the time requisite for obtaining the copy of the order of the Appellate Court shall be excluded.

24. Appeal to Supreme Court

Any person sentenced by the Court under this Ordinance, may within seven days of the decision of the order prefer an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Provided that the Court shall supply copies of its final decision to the convict free of cost.

25. Ordinance to Override Other Laws

The provisions of this Ordinance shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force.

26. Rules

The Federal government may, on recommendations of the Chief Ehtesab Commissioner, make rules for carrying out the purpose of this Ordinance.

27. Repeal

(1) The Holders of Representative Offices (Punishment for Misconduct) Order, 1977, (P.P.P.O. 16 of 1977), and the Parliamentary and Provincial Assemblies (Disqualification for Members) Order, 1977 (P.P.P.O. 17 of 1977), are hereby repealed.

(2) Notwithstanding the repeal of the Holders of Representative Offices (Punishment of Misconduct) Order 1977 (P.P.P.O. 17 of 1977) under sub-section (1), any proceeding pending before the Special Court under the said Orders or the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947 (II of 1917), shall continue."

Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari




1. See Ahmed Rashid's News Analysis in The Nation, November 4, 1996.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. The Nation, November 6, 1996.

7. Nawa-i-Waqt, November 6, 1996, Khabrain, November 6, 1996, as reproduced in POT.

8. Jang, November 6, 1996.

9. Dawn, November 7, 1996.

10. The Nation, November 27, 1996.

11. Frontier Post, December 4, 1996.

12. Ibid.

13. The Muslim, November 9, 1996.

14. Dawn, December 23, 1996.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.

17. Pakistan Times, January 7, 1997. There were reports saying that President Leghari decided unilaterally to constitute the CDNS and the caretaker Prime Minister was asked to approve it at the last moment.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid.

20. The Nation, January 12&13, 1997.

21. Dawn, November 25, 1997.

22. The Nation, January 30, 1997.

23. Ibid.

24. News, January 21, 1997.

25. Ibid.

26. Pakistan Times, December 21, 1997.

27. The Nation, January 14, 1997.

28. Ibid.

29. News, January 23, 1997.

30. News, January 21, 1997.

31. Pakistan Times, January 13, 1997.

32. The Nation, February 5, 1997.

33. Frontline, March 7, 1997.