I have a question about Pakistan politics.

What determines a party president to be either a President of country or Prime Minister of country after winning elections?

When Pakistan People Party (PPP) won elections, Zardari became president instead of Prime Minister.

When Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won elections, Imran Khan became Prime Minister instead of president.

2 Answers 2


The President is intended to be the ceremonial head-of-state, and a figurehead, rather than a person wielding political power. The President is chosen by an electoral college consisting of parliament, the senate and the provinces.

The Prime Minister holds political power. The Leader of the largest party in parliament becomes Prime Minister.

The situation was not always like this. In particular, Musharraf staged a coup which installed him as an "Executive" President with a political as well as ceremonial role. In 2008 the President was the most powerful position, Zardari was elected, he took this role, and passed legislation to return the powers of the present back to where they were in 1973.


As far as I recall Gen. Musharraf passed a law which required a person to have a university degree to become a member of the National Assembly (that law was later revoked by the Supreme Court). Zardari couldn't produce such an evidence. So, Zardari never contested that election. Later he became president and failed to produce any certificate but went on anyway because no one really cared about President's degree certificate. Besides, president's power was curtailed due to an amendment in the constitution.

Secondly, Pakistan's constitution requires that the PM must be truthful and honest. Zardari was battling with a lot of cases, including corruption and money-laundering. So, if he formed the government, he couldn't have lasted a single year because he had to face no-confidence motion (remember the Obama's birth certificate row?).

Regarding immunity

Pakistan's constitution provides immunity to, among others, the head of government and state. Becoming president was a good way to evade corruption cases and investigation by the anti-corruption commission.

By the way, then sitting PM Yusuf Raza Gillani was fired from office by the Supreme Court not for cooperating with the court to prosecute Zardari.


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