Prime Minister of Pakistan

Prime Minister of Pakistan
وزِیرِ اعظم پاکستان
Flag of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.svg
Standard of the Prime Minister of Pakistan
Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi - UNGA (48784380531) (cropped).jpg
Imran Khan

since 18 August 2018
Status Head of government
Abbreviation PM
Member of
Reports to
Residence Prime Minister Enclave [n 1]
Seat Islamabad Capital Territory
Appointer Election Commission of Pakistan through General Elections:
by a Convention that is held in the National Assembly, based on appointee's ability to command confidence among the majority of the members.
Term length 5 years, renewable
Constituting instrument Constitution of Pakistan
Inaugural holder Liaquat Ali Khan
Formation 14 August 1947; 74 years ago (1947-08-14)
Deputy abolished, Deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan
Salary 24 lakh (US$15,000), annual[n 2]

The Prime Minister of Pakistan (Urdu: وزِیرِ اعظم پاکستان , lit.'Grand vizier', Urdu pronunciation: [ʋəˈziːr-ˌeː ˈɑː.zəm]), officially the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is the head of government of Pakistan and designated as the "Chief Executive of Islamic Republic".[15][16]

The prime minister leads the executive branch of the government, oversees economic growth, leads the National Assembly, heads the Council of Common Interests as well as the Cabinet, and is vested with the command authority over the nuclear arsenals.[17][18][19] This position places its holder in leadership of the nation and in control over all matters of internal and foreign policy.[20] The prime minister is elected by the members of the National Assembly and therefore is usually the leader of the majority party in the parliament. The Constitution of Pakistan vests the executive powers in the prime minister, who is responsible for appointing the Cabinet as well as running the executive branch, taking and authorising executive decisions, appointments and recommendations that require executive confirmation of the prime minister.[16]

Constitutionally, the prime minister serves as the chief adviser to the president of Pakistan on critical matters and plays an influential role in appointment in each branch of the military leadership as well as ensuring the control of the military through chairman joint chiefs.[21][22] Powers of the prime minister have significantly grown with a delicate system of the check and balance by each branch.[23] The position was absent during years of 1960–73, 1977–85 and 1999–2002 due to imposed martial law. In each of these periods, the military junta led by the president had the powers of the prime minister.[24]

Imran Khan has held the office of Prime Minister since 18 August 2018, following the outcome of nationwide general elections held on 25 July 2018.[16]


Liaquat Ali Khan, served as the first prime minister of Pakistan after independence (1947–1951).

The office of the prime minister was created on immediate effect after the partition and the establishment of Pakistan in 1947; the prime minister existed alongside the governor-general who was the representative of the British Monarchy. The first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, exercised central executive powers until his assassination in 1951.[25] However, the powers slowly began to be reduced as a result of constant intervention by the governor-general. Despite the first set of the Constitution giving central power in 1956, the next six prime ministers were dismissed by the governor-general from 1951 till 1957. In addition, the first set of the Constitution had evolved the governor-general into the president of Pakistan whilst declaring the country an "Islamic republic".[26][27] In 1958, President Iskandar Mirza dismissed the seventh prime minister to impose martial law in a mere two weeks, President Mirza was ousted by army chief General Ayub Khan who had for a brief period held the post of Prime Minister.

In 1962, the second set of the Constitution completely dissolved the office of prime minister as all powers were transferred to the president of Pakistan.[27][28] Criticism over the presidency after the presidential election held in 1965 over the centralizing of powers. After the general elections held in 1970, the office was established with Nurul Amin becoming the prime minister who was also the vice-president. Negotiations that fall apart between Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Mujibur Rehman, and Yahya Khan that prompted to liberation movement in the East Pakistan. With India intervening in East Pakistan and Pakistan conceding defeat to end the war led to the collapse of the presidential system in 1971.

As the comprehensive Constitution reinstated in 1973, the post was reestablished with more central powers as the constitution provided a parliamentary system with President of Pakistan as figurehead.[29] Amid agitation instigated by the right-wing alliance invited the military intervention in 1977 which suspended the post.

The general elections held in 1985 restored the post, with Muhammad Junejo becoming the prime minister. Later that year, the National Assembly passed the controversial eighth amendment to the Constitution, giving the president the power to dismiss the prime minister and the National Assembly without prior consultation.[30] The general elections in 1988 resulted in the Pakistan Peoples Party's Benazir Bhutto becoming the first woman prime minister elected in a Muslim country.[31]

From 1988 to 1993, the power struggle between the prime minister and Presidency continued with President dismissing the National Assembly on three different occasions. At the 1997 elections, the PML(N) secured a two-thirds majority in the Parliament and drafted the XIII and XIV Amendments to reverse the eighth amendment to the Constitution; this allowed Nawaz Sharif to centralize more executive powers.[32] After the draw down of civil-military relations in 1999, Chairman joint chiefs General Pervez Musharraf staged a coup d'état against the PML(N)'s government and held nationwide elections in 2002.[33]

With no party gaining a majority, a coalition was formed with the PML(Q) – a breakaway of the PML(N) and a pro-Musharraf party – leading with MQM. After some political wrangling, Zafarullah Jamali became the prime minister, and passed the XVII amendment which partially restored the power of the president to dissolve the National Assembly, but made the dissolution subject to the Supreme Court of Pakistan's approval.[34]

Over the authority issues,[clarification needed] Prime Minister Jamali resigned in 2004 and Shaukat Aziz was eventually appointed as Prime Minister, securing 151 out of 191 votes in the National Assembly.[35] The XVII amendment featured a semi-presidential system allowing the presidency to keep the interference[clarification needed] executive and the judiciary.[34] The general elections in 2008 resulted in the PPP coming to power and supporting the movement to oust Pervez Musharraf.[36] A populist intellectual movement leading to the departure of Pervez Musharraf allowed Asif Zardari to become President. In 2010, the XVIII Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan was passed to reverse the XVII amendment; it returned the country to being a parliamentary democratic republic. In addition, the XVIII Amendment removed all powers of the presidency to dissolve the Parliament unilaterally and sweep away the powers amassed by the former presidents Pervez Musharraf and Zia-ul-Haq to maintain a delicate check and balance.[37]

Following a contempt of court case, the Supreme Court permanently disqualified Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani.[38] Originally, the PPP nomination was Makhdoom Shahbuddin,[39] but he was forced to withdraw after the ANF issued non-bailable arrest warrants against him.[40] Raja Pervaiz Ashraf became the prime minister and remained in office until 2013.[23][40][41][42] The general election held in 2013 saw the PML(N) almost achieve a supermajority. Following this, Nawaz Sharif was elected as Prime Minister, returning to the post for the third time after a fourteen-year absence, in a democratic transition. In July 2017, Nawaz Sharif was forced to step down as prime minister following corruption charges against him resulting from Panama papers leak which also forced Iceland prime minister to resign.[43]

On 18 August 2018, Imran Khan was sworn in as the country's 22nd prime minister.[44]

Constitutional law

The Constitution envisages a scheme of affairs in which the president of Pakistan is the head of state who represents the "unity of the Republic." The system of government in Pakistan is based on codified constitution which sees the prime minister as "chief executive of the Republic."

Subject to the Constitution the Federation shall be exercised in the name of the President by the Federal Government, consisting of the Prime Minister and the Federal Ministers, which shall act through the Prime Minister, who shall be the chief executive of the Federation."

— Article 90(1) in Chapter 3: The Federal Government of Part III: The Federation of Pakistan in the Constitution of Pakistan, source[45]

In addition, the prime minister is also the chairman of the Council of Common Interests as set by:

1 There shall be a Council of Common Interests, in this Chapter referred to as the Council, to be appointed by the President

(2) The Council shall consist of-
(a) the Prime Minister who shall be the Chairman of the Council;
(b) the Chief Ministers of the Provinces;

(c) three members from the Federal Government to be nominated by the Prime Minister from time to time.

— Article 153 in Chapter 3: Special Provisions of Part V: Relations between Federation and Provinces in the Constitution of Pakistan, source[46]

As in most of the parliamentary democracies, a head of state's duties are mostly ceremonial. The prime minister of Pakistan is the head of government and has the responsibility for executive power. With Pakistan following a parliamentary system of government, the Prime minister is generally the leader of a party (or coalition of parties) that has a majority in the National Assembly —the lower house of the Parliament of Pakistan. The prime minister, in common with all other ministers, has to be a member of National Assembly.[45]

Role and powers of the prime minister

Prime Minister's Office in Islamabad– the principal workplace of the prime minister.

The principal workplace of the prime minister is the Prime Minister's Office located in northeast Islamabad. The official residence, known as Prime Minister Enclave, is near the Prime Minister's Office. The prime minister is the chief executive who heads and exercises the authority of the Government of Pakistan. After obtaining a vote of confidence, the prime minister is invited by the president to take the oath of office and form the government.[45] In practice, the prime minister nominates the members of the Cabinet who supervise the important functions and ministries of the Government of Pakistan.[45] In addition, the prime minister communicates to the president all decisions of the Cabinet relating to the administration of affairs of state and proposals for legislation.[47]

The prime minister, in consultation with the Cabinet, schedules and attends the sessions of the Parliament and is required to answer questions from members of parliament to the ministers. The prime minister makes appointments on various important positions, including:

  • The federal secretaries as head of cabinet-level ministries
  • The chief secretaries of the provinces
  • Key administrative and military personnel in the Pakistan Armed Forces
  • The chairmen of large public sector organisations and corporations such as NHA, PIA, PNSC etc.
  • The chairmen and other members of the federal commissions and public institutions
  • Ambassadors and High Commissioners to other countries

Some specific ministries/departments are not allocated to anyone in the cabinet but the prime minister himself. The prime minister is usually always in charge/Chairman of:

The prime minister is vested with command authority over the Pakistani nuclear arsenals and represents the country in various delegations, high-level meetings, and international organisations that require the attendance of the highest government office and also addresses the nation on various issues of national importance.[19]


The Constitution of Pakistan requires that the prime minister be a member of the National Assembly.[48] As well as this, one must:

  • be a citizen of Pakistan.
  • be a Muslim
  • be above 25 years of age
  • be able to prove good conduct of character and be not commonly known to violate Islamic injunctions
  • have adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practice obligatory duties prescribed by Islam, as well as abstaining from major sins
  • have not, after the establishment of Pakistan, worked against the integrity of the country or opposed the ideology of Pakistan.[49]

Selection and removal

The candidates for the prime minister are members of the National Assembly or Senate who were chosen through direct elections by popular vote following campaigning on the party platforms.[50] Usually, the leader of the majority party in the parliament retains the office of prime minister, and forms the government either by coalition or by simple majority.[51] The candidate must retain the vote of confidence of the members of the parliament before being invited by the president to form the government.[45]

The prime minister can be removed before the expiry of the term through a vote of no confidence in the parliament.[45] If the vote of no confidence is passed by the National Assembly by not less than 20%, the prime minister ceases to retain the office.[45] In the past, prime ministers (and their governments) have been dismissed by the president exercising the VIII Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan (1985), but this was repealed by the XVIII Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan (2010).[52][53] In addition, the prime minister himself has absolute constitutional immunity from criminal and civil proceedings, and no proceedings can be initiated or continued against him during the term of his office.[54]

In 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has ceased at least one prime minister from retaining the office due to contempt of court after retroactively disqualifying the membership of the parliament permanently.[55][56]

On 28 July 2017, the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified the prime minister Nawaz Sharif from retaining the office due to his failure in fulfilling the eligibility requirements as enshrined in Articles 62 of the Constitution. This was in the aftermath of the Supreme Court hearing regarding the Panama Papers Case. This also resulted in him being permanently disqualified from membership of the parliament.[57]

The prime minister is elected by the National Assembly.[58] The National Assembly meets on the twenty-first day after a general election (at least every five years) unless the president calls for a vote of no confidence. Whichever member of the National assembly is chosen serves as the prime minister until the next election or until he fails to maintain the confidence of the National Assembly.

91. The Cabinet:

(1) 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.

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

(4) 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.

(5) 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.

Oath of office

The prime minister is required to make and subscribe to, in the presence of the president, an oath or affirmation that they shall protect, preserve and defend the Constitution as follows:

I, ____________, do swear solemnly that l am a Muslim and believe in the Unity and Oneness of Almighty Allah, the Books of Allah, the Holy Qura'an being the last of them, the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the last of the Prophets and that there can be no Prophet after him, the Day of Judgment, and all the requirements and teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah:

That I will bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan:

That, as Prime Minister of Pakistan, I will discharge my duties, and perform my functions, honestly, to the best of my ability, faithfully in accordance with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well- being and prosperity of Pakistan:

That I will strive to preserve the Islamic Ideology which is the basis for the creation of Pakistan:

That I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions:

That I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan:

That, in all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favor, affection or ill- will:

And that I will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person any matter which shall be brought under my consideration or shall become known to me as Prime Minister except as may be required for the due discharge of my duties as Prime Minister.

May Allah Almighty help and guide me (A'meen). In Urdu,

وزِیرِ اعظم پاکِستان‬

بسم اللہ الرحمان الرحیم

میں (وزیراعظم-منتخب کا نام) صدق دل سے حلف اٹھاتا ہوں کہ میں مسلمان ہوں اور وحدت و توحید اور قادر مطلق اللہ تعالیٰ کتاب الہٰیہ جن میں قرآن پاک خاتم الکتب اور نبوت حضرت محمد ﷺ بحیثیت خاتم النبیین جن کے بعد کوئی نبی نہیں آسکتا روز قیامت اور قرآن پاک اور سنت کی جملہ مقتدیات و تعلیمات پر ایمان رکھتا ہوں۔

کہ میں خلوص نیت سے پاکستان کا حامی اور وفادار رہوں گا کہ بحیثیت وزیر اعظم پاکستان میں اپنے فرائض و کارہائے منصبی ایمانداری اپنی انتہائی صلاحیت اور وفاداری کے ساتھ اسلامی جمہوریہ پاکستان کے دستور اور قانون کے مطابق اور ہمیشہ پاکستان کی خودمختاری سالمیت استحکام یکجہتی اور خوشحالی کی خاطر انجام دوں گا۔

کہ میں اسلامی نظریے کو برقرار رکھنے کے لیے کوشاں رہوں گا جو قیام پاکستان کی بنیاد ہے کہ میں اپنے ذاتی مفاد کو اپنے سرکاری کام یا اپنے سرکاری فیصلوں پر اثر انداز نہیں ہونے دوں گا۔

کہ میں اسلامی جموریہ پاکستان کے دستور کو برقرار رکھوں گا اور اس کا تحفظ اور دفاع کروں گا اور یہ کہ میں ہر حالت میں ہر قسم کے لوگوں کے ساتھ بلا خوف ورعایت اور بلارغبت و عناد قانون کے مطابق انصاف کروں گا اور یہ کہ میں کسی شخص کو بلاواسطہ یا بالواسطہ کسی ایسے معاملے کی نہ اطلاع دوں گا اور نہ ظاہر کروں گاجو بحیثیت وزیر اعظم پاکستان میرے سامنے غور کیلئے پیش کیا جائے گا یا میرے علم میں آئے بجز جبکہ بحیثیت وزیر اعظم اپنے فرائض کی کماحقہ انجام دہی کیلئے ایسا کرنا ضروری ہو۔

اللہ تعالیٰ میری مدد اور رہنمائی فرمائے آمین

— Article 91 in Chapter 3: The Federal Government in Part III: The Federation of Pakistan in the Constitution of Pakistan

Past prime ministers

Former prime ministers

See also