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Pakistan forms parliamentary panel to review key constitutional provisions

[JURIST] Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Saturday announced the formation of a parliamentary committee to examine the revision of key terms of the Pakistan Constitution [text]. The revisions would include the elimination of the controversial 17th Amendment [text] and Article 58-2(B), which give the president extraordinary power over Pakistani elected bodies, including the power to dissolve the country's parliament and remove individual MPs. News of the formation of the committee [The News report] came in an address to a joint session of the parliament by Zardari, who invoked the memory of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [JURIST news archive] in making the announcement.

The formation of the parliamentary committee comes towards the end of a month of political turmoil in Pakistan which culminated in the reinstatement [JURIST report] of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry Mohammed [JURIST news archive] of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani [BBC profile] announced early last week that the government would reinstate Chaudhry in response to recent protests by members of the lawyers' movement and opposition politicians and supporters. Reports first surfaced in mid-March that President Zardari had agreed to reinstate Chaudhry and other judges ousted by Zardari's predecessor Pervez Musharraf in November 2007 after his declaration of emergency rule. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) [party website] have actively campaigned [JURIST report] for Chaudhry's reinstatement. Throughout the period of his removal Chaudhry insisted that he was still chief justice [JURIST report] under the Pakistani constitution.

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