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Overview of Article 91 of the Constitution of Pakistan
The Constitution of Pakistan, created in 1973, serves as the cornerstone of Pakistani legal and political framework. Of all of its numerous articles, Article 91 stands out as being central in outlining governance structure and electing Prime Minister. This blog post delves deeper into these aspects and illustrates their significance within a broader constitutional framework.
Article 91 States
91. The Cabinet:
- There shall be a Cabinet of Ministers, with the Prime Minister at its head, to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions.
- The National Assembly shall meet on the twenty-first day following the day on which a general election to the Assembly is held, unless sooner summoned by the President.
- After the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, the National Assembly shall, to the exclusion of any other business, proceed to elect without debate one of its Muslim members to be the Prime Minister.
- The Prime Minister shall be elected by the votes of the majority of the total membership of the National Assembly:
Provided that, if no member secures such majority in the first poll, a second poll shall be held between the members who secure the two highest numbers of votes in the first poll and the member who secures a majority of votes of the members present and voting shall be declared to have been elected as Prime Minister:
Provided further that, if the number of votes secured by two or more members securing the highest number of votes is equal, further poll shall be held between them until one of them secures a majority of votes of the members present and voting.
- The member elected under clause (4) shall be called upon by the President to assume the office of Prime Minister and he shall, before entering upon the office, make before the President oath in the form set out in the Third Schedule:
Provided that there shall be no restriction on the number of terms for the office of the Prime Minister.
- The Cabinet, together with the Ministers of State, shall be collectively responsible to the Senate and the National Assembly.
- The Prime Minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the President, but the President shall not exercise his powers under this clause unless he is satisfied that the Prime Minister does not command the confidence of the majority of the members of the National Assembly, in which case he shall summon the National Assembly and require the Prime Minister to obtain a vote of confidence from the Assembly.
- The Prime Minister may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office.
- A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the National Assembly shall, at the expiration of that period, cease to be a Minister and shall not before the dissolution of that Assembly be again appointed a Minister unless he is elected a member of that Assembly:
Provided that nothing in this clause shall apply to a Minister who is a member of the Senate.
- Nothing in this Article shall be construed as disqualifying the Prime Minister or any other Minister or a Minister of State for continuing in office during any period during which the National Assembly stands dissolved, or as preventing the appointment of any person as Prime Minister or other Minister or a Minister of State during any such period.
Key Points of Article 91 of the Constitution of Pakistan
- Establishment and Role of Cabinet of Ministers: This article establishes a Cabinet of Ministers led by a Prime Minister that advises and assists the President in discharging their duties.
- National Assembly Proceedings: It provides a clear timeline for convening of the National Assembly after each general election, emphasizing quick formation of this legislative body.
- Prime Ministerial Election Process: The article outlines a meticulous process for electing the Prime Minister, ensuring a democratic and transparent selection through a voting mechanism in the National Assembly.
- Oath and Tenure: Elected Prime Ministers must take an oath prior to taking office, with no restrictions placed on how many terms he or she can serve in office.
- Collective Responsibility: The Cabinet, in conjunction with Ministers of State, bears collective responsibility to both the Senate and the National Assembly, fostering accountability in governance.
- Presidential Powers: While Prime Ministers hold office at the pleasure of the President, their dismissal may depend on losing majority support in the National Assembly.
- Resignation Mechanism: To add flexibility to the political landscape, the Prime Minister can voluntarily submit his/her resignation to the President by providing written notification of their intention to step down.
- Ministerial Membership Criteria: A Minister not being a member of the National Assembly for six consecutive months faces disqualification, emphasizing the importance of parliamentary representation.
- Continuity During National Assembly Dissolution: The article clarifies that certain provisions do not disqualify the Prime Minister or other ministers from continuing in office during the dissolution of the National Assembly, maintaining stability in governance.
Crux of Article 91 of the Constitution of Pakistan
Article 91 embodies the democratic principles and the delicate balance of powers within the governance structure of Pakistan. It delineates a meticulous process for the formation and functioning of the Cabinet, ensuring representation and accountability. The article’s focus on the National Assembly’s role in electing the Prime Minister underscores the democratic ethos embedded in Pakistan’s constitutional framework. Additionally, the checks and balances, particularly the President’s power to dismiss the Prime Minister under specific circumstances, exemplify the nuanced dynamics of the country’s political system.
Conclusion: Article 91 of the Constitution of Pakistan
In conclusion, Article 91 of the Constitution of Pakistan (1973) is a cornerstone in shaping the nation’s governance dynamics. From the formation of the Cabinet to the intricate process of electing the Prime Minister, each provision contributes to the establishment of a robust and accountable political system. The article not only outlines the mechanics of power but also reflects the commitment to democratic principles that underpin the constitutional fabric of Pakistan. As the nation evolves, Article 91 remains a guiding force, ensuring the continuity of democratic governance and representation.