Islamabad: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the steps taken to restore the constitution, under which his own powers will be drastically reduced, reaffirms the political philosophy of the document's framer, the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, that the people alone are the legitimate fountainhead of political power.
"We pledge to continue forward our march to empower the people," the president said Sunday in his message to the nation on Bhutto's 31st death anniversary.
Zardari said Bhutto had awakened the people and led the collective national effort to give the country a unanimous constitution that was federal, democratic and parliamentary in character to keep the nation united, Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
"Today... it is most reassuring that the nation is poised to restore (its) constitution by removing from it all vestiges of dictatorship," he said.
Bhutto was executed April 4, 1979, after what many consider to be a kangaroo trial. This was after he had been deposed as president by then army chief Gen. Zia-ul Haq.
Under the constitution's 18th amendment tabled in parliament Friday, the president will be bound to act on the advice of the prime minister, who will get back, among others, the power to appoint the armed forces chiefs and the chief election commissioner.
These powers had been taken away by then president Pervez Musharraf by the 17th amendment that he rammed through parliament in 2002.
Zardari will address a joint session of parliament Monday, after which the National Assembly, the lower house, will take up consideration of the 18th amendment. It is expected to be passed by more than the required two-thirds majority, after which it will go to the Senate.
Zardari is expected to sign the bill once it clears the upper house.
The 18th amendment will strip Zia-ul Haq of his title of president of Pakistan and remove the current bar on a prime minister serving a third term.
According to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the amendment will also empower the provinces, leading to good governance and political ownership.
Under the amendment, the president will not be able to dissolve the assemblies in future and can do so only on the advice of the prime minister.
Then, the prime minister and the provincial chief ministers will be elected by their respective legislatures by a show of hands against the current provision of secret balloting.
Also, a caretaker chief minister will be selected by the provincial governor in consultation with the chief minister and the leader of opposition in the outgoing assembly.
Under the amendment, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) would be renamed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa.