The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, was elected by the people of Pakistan and assumed office on 9 September 2008. The President was elected following a period of decline in democratic institutions and a worsening of security conditions for the people of Pakistan. One of the greatest challenges facing President Zadari has been to create transparent and enduring democracy. The President broke with tradition in Pakistan by creating a coalition government and including opposition parties in key positions in the government.
The President of Pakistan is elected by the people of Pakistan as the Head of State of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He plays an important role in the administrative functioning of the country. Pakistan has a Parliamentary republic form of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a five-year term. The Electoral College comprises the Senate, National Assembly, and the provincial assemblies. The President may be re-elected but may not serve for more than two consecutive terms. He may also be impeached and subsequently removed from office by a two-thirds vote by Parliament.
The position of President in Pakistan has traditionally been one of a figurehead, with actual powers lying with the Prime Minister. However, at various times in history, often related with military coups and the subsequent return of civilian governments, changes in the Constitution have altered the powers and privileges associated with the Office of the President. The current Constitution gives the President reserve powers, subject to Supreme Court approval or veto, to dissolve the National Assembly, triggering new elections, and thereby dismissing the Prime Minister.
In 2010, the Parliament passed the Eighteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Pakistan, removing the power of the President to dissolve the Parliament unilaterally, turning Pakistan from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary republic. The amendment is expected to ease political instability in Pakistan and counter the sweeping powers amassed by the President's Office under former Presidents Pervez Musharraf and Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.
The historic 18th Amendment reverses many infringements by military rulers over several decades on the Constitution of Pakistan. The amendment was passed by the Senate on 15 April 2010 and became an Act of Parliament when President Asif Ali Zardari put his signature on the bill on 19 April 2010. It was the first time in the history of Pakistan that a president willingly relinquished a significant part of his powers and transferred it to Parliament and the Office of the Prime Minister. No elected government in Pakistan has ever completed its full term. This bill is the first bill since 1973 to decrease the powers of the president.