The offices of the president and the prime minister,
advised by the cabinet, comprise the executive branch.
President: The president acts as the chief of state,
and must be Muslim. The chief executive is elected
to a five year term, but cannot serve more than two
consecutive terms. The president is elected through
an Electoral College consisting of the members of
the Senate, National Assembly and the provincial assemblies.
The president acts in collaboration with the prime
minister and federal cabinet though preserves the
ability to dissolve the National Assembly. New rules
require that decision to be confirmed by the Supreme
Prime Minister: As the second-highest ranking political
official, the prime minister is the head of government,
selected from among the popularly elected National
Assembly. The assembly puts forth a nomination to
the office of the prime minister, generally from the
majority party, and that person is then appointed
by the president.
Federal Cabinet: Members of the federal cabinet are
appointed by the president and act as advisers to
the prime minister. These federal ministers and ministers
of state are selected from among the Parliament, with
three-fourths of its members from the National Assembly
and one-fourth from the Senate.
The legislative branch consists of a bicameral parliament,
called the Majlis-e-Shoora. Parliament is responsible
for passing all bills as well as constitutional amendments,
which must be approved by a two-thirds vote in each
Senate: The 100 seats of the Senate are indirectly
voted-in by the provincial assemblies to serve six-year
terms. Seats are equally divided among the four provinces,
with 22 representatives from each region. Additionally,
representatives from the Federally Administered Tribal
Areas hold eight seats and the Capital Territory holds
four. Seventeen seats in the Senate are allocated
for women, though they are not limited to that number.
Seventeen additional seats are reserved for Ulema,
or Islamic scholars. The Senate chairman serves as
the third-highest ranking official, and is first in
line to assume the presidency.
National Assembly: Unlike the Senate, seats in the
National Assembly are allocated based on population
and decided by popular vote. Of the 342 seats in the
assembly, 60 are reserved for women and 10 are reserved
for non-Muslims, with the remaining 272 open to general
elections. The minority seats are apportioned based
on the percentage vote each political party earns
in the election. Members serve for five years, though
the term may end sooner if the president dissolves
The National Assembly reserves the right to pass
all finance bills, including the federal budget. It
also provides three-fourths of the members of the
cabinet. The speaker of the assembly is the fourth-highest
ranking member of the government and second in line
to assume the presidency.
Pakistan's legal system consists of the Supreme Court,
provincial High Courts and lower courts, which preside
over criminal and civil cases. As a Muslim state, it
also provides for a Federal Islamic Sharia Court, which
oversees compliance with Islamic law.
Supreme Court: As the highest court in the country, the Supreme Court is charged with upholding the constitution and maintains original and appellate jurisdiction. Members of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president, including a chief justice who helps select the other judges. All judges on the Supreme Court may serve until the age of 65.
Sharia Court: Established in 1980, the Sharia Court is responsible for ensuring that all of Pakistan's laws are consistent with Islam. If not, the president or provincial governor must reform the law to bring it under Islamic guidelines. Of the eight Muslim judges to the court, three are required to be Islamic scholars, or ulema.
Other Courts: In certain instances, a special court or tribunal rules on cases in specific areas of the law, such as traffic, tax or terrorism. Each province also has its own high court to which a chief justice is appointed by the president in collaboration with the Supreme Court's chief justice and the provincial governor.
Ombudsman: The president appoints an ombudsman, or Wafaqi Mohtasib, to act as a watchdog of the federal government for injustices against citizens. The office is held for one four-year term.
Each of Pakistan's four provinces maintains its own governor, Council of Ministers and assembly. Provincial governments hold jurisdiction over many areas of law, such as health and education, within their region. Additionally, the provincial assemblies help elect the president and members of the Senate.