The President of Pakistan is the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and is elected for a five-year term by the Electoral College of Pakistan - composed of the Senate, the National Assembly, and the four Provincial Assemblies. The President’s appointment and term are constitutionally independent of the Prime Minister’s term. The current President of Pakistan is Pervez Musharraf, who came to power after a military coup on October 12, 1999. The Prime Minister of Pakistan is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly and is assisted by a cabinet of ministers drawn from both chambers of the federal legislature. The bicameral federal legislature comprises the 100 member Senate (with seats equally distributed among the provinces and the FATA and the capital) and the 342 member National Assembly. Both the Senate and the National Assembly have seats reserved for women and religious minorities. Senators are elected for six-year terms, with staggered elections every three years, whilst members of the National Assembly are elected for five-year terms. The Constitution provides for the President to address the federal legislature together at the start of the first session after any general elections. The last National Assembly elections were held in October 2002, and Senate elections in February 2003. One notable outcome was the election of 91 women to Parliament - the largest number and percentage of women in the parliament of any Muslim-majority country Each province has a similar government setup with a Provincial Assembly elected for a five-year term through multi-party elections, which in turn elects a Chief Minister - the executive head of the province. The Chief Minister nominates a candidate for the office of Provincial Governor and the Provincial Assembly ratifies the nominee for a five-year term. Pakistan has been under the influence of its military almost since it was founded (see Establishment (Pakistan) ). Continuing this trend, the present President Musharraf is a uniformed general. The Intelligence agencies have a huge role in the politics since the beginning in making and breaking the political parties. The president, 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 reelection. 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 for 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--a legacy of Zia--is contained in the Eighth Amendment which gives the president the power to dissolve the National Assembly "in his discretion where, in his opinion . . . 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.
" The Thirteenth Amendment which was passed in 1997 revoked this power. In December 2003, the President''s power was partially restored by the Seventeenth Amendment. In April 2004, the Presidency''s influence was augmented by an Act of Parliament that established the National Security Council, a body chaired by the President. 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; defense; defenroduction; 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; railroads; religious affairs; science and technology; social welfare; special education; sports; state and frontier regions; tourism; water and power; women''s development; and youth affairs. Legislative Branch 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. Senate 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.