Amendment XVIII (the Eighteenth Amendment) of the Constitution of Pakistan, was passed by the National Assembly of Pakistan on April 8, 2010, removing the power of the President of Pakistan to dissolve the Parliament unilaterally, turning Pakistan from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary republic, and renaming North-West Frontier Province to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The package is expected to counter the sweeping powers amassed by the Presidency under former Presidents General Pervez Musharraf and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and to ease political instability in Pakistan. The 'historic' bill reverses many infringements on Constitution of Pakistan over several decades by its military rulers. The amendment bill was passed by the Senate of Pakistan on April 15, 2010 and became an act of parliament when a smiling President Asif Ali Zardari put his signature on the bill on April 19, 2010. It was the first time in the history of Pakistan that a president relinquished a significant part of his powers willingly and transferred them to parliament and the office of the prime minister.
The power of the President to dissolve the Parliament was enacted by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan during the presidency of Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, before it was removed by then-Prime minister Nawaz Sharif during his second term by the Thirteenth Amendment. It was finally restored during the presidency of Gen. Pervez Musharraf by the Seventeenth Amendment. The only democratically elected parliament to fully complete its tenure in the history of Pakistan was from 2003 - 2008, surprisingly under President Pervez Musharraf widely labelled as a dictator in Pakistan. This bill is the first bill since 1973 to decrease the powers of the President.
292 of the 342 members of the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, voted in favour of the amendment, in a vote that was described as historic and shown live on television. The amendment turns the President into a ceremonial head of state and transfers power to the Prime Minister, and removes the limit on a Prime Minister serving more than two terms, opening the way for Nawaz Sharif to run again. The North-West Frontier Province is renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in accordance with the wishes of its Pashtun-majority population. Among other changes, courts will no longer be able to endorse suspensions of the constitution, a judicial commission will appoint judges, and the president will no longer be able to appoint the head of the Election Commission. The bill also enhances provincial autonomy. The President will no longer be able to declare emergency rule in any province unilaterally.
Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, speaking after the passage of the bill, stated that "it is dividend of the politics of reconciliation that the Nation and the Parliament are united today and we have repealed undemocratic laws inserted to Constitution by dictators." An editorial published in Dawn welcomed the amendment and urged to parliament to go further and undo the destructive legacy of General Zia's rule and re-examine the Hudood Ordinance and Blasphemy law in Pakistan. Ahmed Kurd, former president of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, said "We fully support the 18th Amendment. It is tantamount to the overhauling of the constitution, which had been subverted by military dictators since its inception. In the past, parliaments have just been 'rubber stamps', whereas the present parliament seemed to be well aware of its obligations, and therefore, was 'throwing out' the 'unconstitutional' amendments."
However violence broke out in the North West Frontier Province's Hazara Division where the Hindko-speaking population opposed the attempts to rename the province Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.