Pakistan's Zardari likely to become figurehead

Pakistan's parliament is expected to pass a set of constitutional reforms this month that would strip President Asif Ali Zardari of his sweeping powers.

Zardari is expected to address the issue in a Pakistan Day speech on Tuesday.

Here's how the future political landscape of the nuclear-armed ally of the United States might look after Zardari reluctantly agrees to shed some of the office's powers.

WHAT POWERS WILL THE PRESIDENT LOSE?

The clipping of the presidency's vast powers will effectively turn Zardari into a figurehead.

The most important powers to be taken from Zardari are his authority to dissolve the National Assembly, parliament's lower house. He will also lose the authority to appoint the heads of the army, navy and air force.

The proposed constitutional changes will also restrict the president's role in the appointment of judges, the chief election commissioner and the naming of a caretaker government before calling general elections. The proposed reforms also reduce Zardari's power to impose emergency rule in the country.

The proposed changes also call for the lifting of a bar on becoming prime minister for a third time. This might allow Zardari's top rival and two-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to return to the corridors of powers after general elections due by 2013.

WHAT HAPPENS TO ZARDARI?

After being reduced to a ceremonial head of state, Zardari's strength will lie with his ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP). Zardari became head of the PPP after a suicide bombing killed his wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

Though Zardari lacks his wife's charisma and has been dogged by accusations of corruption, the PPP has remained largely intact. It stood by him during the several political crises he faced since becoming president in September 2008.

Whether Zardari can retain his grip on the party with the loss of his powers remains to be seen.

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