Pakistan Politics

According to the constitution of 1973 (revised several times), Pakistan is a federal Islamic republic with a multi-party system. The constitution and the name of the state emphasize the primacy of Islam, but the constitution guarantees freedom of religion to those of other faiths. The head of state is the president elected by members of the national and provincial parliaments for a period of five years; he must be a Muslim. A maximum of two terms of office are permitted. Since the constitutional reform in 2010, the state president only has predominantly representative tasks. Arif Alvi (* 1949) has held this office since 9.9.2018.

The legislature lies with the bicameral parliament, consisting of the Senate (104 members, elected indirectly by the provincial parliaments for 6 years; half of the senators are elected every 3 years) and the National Assembly (342 members directly elected for 5 years; 60 seats are for Women, 10 seats reserved for non-Muslims, they are assigned according to party strength). While the actual legislative competence lies with the National Assembly, the Senate has predominantly advisory influence. The government, chaired by the Prime Minister, is responsible to the National Assembly. In the parliamentary elections on July 25, 2018, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party emerged as the strongest party with 31.8% of the vote. Your party leader I. Khan was elected as the new Prime Minister by the National Assembly on August 17, 2018. His electoral success was based on a promise to fight corruption and improve social conditions.

Domestic politics. The most important problem area in domestic politics is Islamist terrorism. Examples are the attack on a school in Peshawar at the end of 2014 with almost 150 deaths, mostly school children, or the suicide attack on an election rally in Mastung, Balochistan Province, also with around 150 deaths. Ethnic conflicts arise from the immigration of Mohajir from India and Pashtuns from Afghanistan. There are separatist movements in Balochistan. The political balance of power in Pakistan is influenced by corruption, nepotism and the military.

Foreign policy. The relationship between the two nuclear powers Pakistan and India is strained by the unresolved Kashmir issue. Combat operations by Afghan and Pakistani Taliban have occurred repeatedly on the border with Afghanistan. As one of countries beginning with letter P listed on, Pakistan responded by threatening the forced return of Afghan refugees. The military alliance with the USA in the international fight against terrorism is perceived by parts of the population as un-Islamic. The US drone strikes on Pakistani territory contributed in particular to this. In 2018, the US stopped providing financial aid to the Pakistani security forces.

Pakistan is a member of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Asian Development Bank, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Colombo Plan, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Commonwealth of Nations (1947-72, 1989-99, 2004-07 and since 2008).


The most influential groups in the highly fragmented party system are the Islamic-social democratic Pakistan People’s Party (PPP, founded in 1967), the Islamic-conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML, founded in 1947, today in several organizations, PML-Q [Quaid-e-Azam], PML-N [Nawaz], PML-F [Functional] split), the conservative Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI; founded 1996) around Prime Minister I. Khan , the Muttahida Qaumi Mahaz / Movement (MQM; founded 1984 as Mohajir Qaumi Movement), the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam / Fazlur (JUI-F, split from the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam founded in 1950) and Awami National Party (ANP, founded 1986).


The largest umbrella organization is the Pakistan Workers’ Federation (PWF). It was created in 2005 through the merger of the All-Pakistan Federation of Labor (APFOL) with the Pakistan National Federation of Trade Unions (PNFTU) and the All Pakistan Federation of Trade Unions (APFTU).


The total strength of the volunteer army is around 654,000, the paramilitary forces around 280,000 (National Guard, Border Corps, Pakistan Rangers, Coast Guard). The army (around 560,000 soldiers) is divided into nine army corps; assigned to each one artillery brigade, two tank and 20 infantry divisions, seven independent tank, infantry and engineer brigades each; there are also three tank reconnaissance regiments, an anti-aircraft command with several brigades and a special forces regiment. The air force comprises around 70,000 and the navy around 24,000 men. Pakistan has been a nuclear power since 1998.


Pakistan consists of 4 provinces, each with a governor appointed by the president who in turn appoints the chief minister as head of the executive branch; also from the federal territory of the capital Islamabad and the centrally administered tribal areas (FATA; English Federally Administered Tribal Areas). An advisory body between the federal government and the provinces acts as an equal council of common interests. The Pakistani-occupied part of Kashmir (Azad Kashmir) and the northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan (until 2009 Northern Areas) have a special status. They are subordinate to the federal administration.

Administrative division in Pakistan

Administrative structure (2017)
Administrative unit Area (in km 2) Population(in millions) Residents(per km 2) capital city
Baluchistan (Baluchistan) 347 190 12.3 36 Quetta
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa *) 74 521 30.5 410 Peshawar
Punjab 205 345 110.0 536 Lahore
Are 140 914 47.9 340 Karachi (Karachi)
Federal territory of the capital Islamabad 906 2.0 2 209
centrally administered tribal areas 27 220 5.0 184
*) North-West Frontier Province until 2010


The multi-tiered court system includes the Supreme Court (also the appellate court), the Sharia court of the federal government (which decides on the compatibility of laws with Islamic legal concepts), the high courts of the 4 provinces, lower courts and administrative courts.

State law, which was originally based to a large extent on British-Indian common law, has been increasingly influenced and overlaid by Islamic law in recent decades. In 1988, Sharia was officially declared the highest law. In addition to the Hanefite school of law referred to in the constitution, Shiite legal ideas also play a role in the customary law of parts of the population. The death penalty was reintroduced in 1992, and since 1995 it has also been used for drug trafficking. A moratorium on the death penalty in place since 2008 was lifted after the terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar in December 2014.

Pakistan Politics