Evolution Of The Pakistan Constitution
During the World War 2, the British realized that they could no longer hold power over the sub continent and therefore the matter needed to be resolved. Lord Mountbatten, the viceroy of India, presented the 3rd June plan in 1947 according to which, the sub continent was to be divided to form two countries. The Hindu and the Muslim leaders agreed upon the idea and that is how two countries, India and Pakistan came into existence.
Pakistan as a new nation had to form its constitution for smooth functioning. However, under the Indian independence act of 1947, the government of India act 1935 introduced an interim constitution for Pakistan. According to the act, all powers were given to the constituent assemblies. This interim constitution was temporary and till the time Pakistan manages to draft its own constitution. Under section 8 of the Indian Independence act, a constituent assembly would be formed in Pakistan, the aim of which would be the forming of Pakistan’s own constitution. This assembly had 69 members in the beginning which ultimately grew to 79 with the passage of time. Other than forming the constitution, this assembly had some other functions to perform as well, such as:
• To work as a federal legislation
• To amend laws
• To frame draft for the constitution of Pakistan
The first session of this assembly was held on 10th August 1948. The very next day, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was elected as its president. On 12th Muhammad Ali Jinnah was entitled as Quaid e Azam.
Just as the session started, it hadn’t gained much yet when secularism and religious issues started to rise. These issues took the shape of conflicts which made the drafting of the constitution more difficult. However, to resolve these issues, the objective resolution was passed by the assembly. This resolution was presented by Liaqat Ali Khan on 12th March 1949. It resolved the issues between secularism and religion. Moreover, the objective resolution remained the preamble of all three constitutions of Pakistan I.E 1956, 1962, 1973.
Unfortunately, another blow to the forming of the constitution occurred when Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan was assassinated in 1951. He was replaced by Governor General Khawja Nazim Udin.
It took the constituent assembly a long time and much struggle to finally get ready with the draft of the constitution. Shockingly, the Governor General Khawja Nazim Udin dissolved the assembly on 24th October 1954 right when the draft was about to be presented. This turned out as another setback to the framing of the constitution. Khawja Nazim Udin blamed that the members of the constituent assembly were corrupt and that the constitution they were about present was a threat to the stable functioning of Pakistan. Pakistan was already suffering from severe economic crisis at that time.
Moulvi Tamizudin who happened to be the speaker of the constituent assembly did not appreciate the decision of the governor general. He decided to challenge his decision in the Sindh high court. The court decided in favour of Moulvi Tamizudin and told that the governor general was using his powers in a wrong way.
Governor General Ghulam Muhammad responded to this decision by filing an appeal in the federal court. A historical decision was made by the federal court that was no fortune for the future of Pakistan. The court annulled the decision of the Sindh high court and upheld the decision of the governor general.
On 28th May 1955, a second constituent assembly was formed which consisted of 80 members. The people of Pakistan gained hope once again towards a progressive Pakistan and that this assembly consisted of the most loyal members. After 9 years of the creation of Pakistan on 23 March 1956, the first constitution of Pakistan was presented by the assembly
The Constitution of 1956 was lengthy and detailed as it contained 234 articles divided into thirteen parts and six schedules. The salient features of the 1956 constitution are as under:
• The constitution is a written and lengthy document.
• It is flexible and can be amended by two third of the majority
• The legislature would be composed of a single house
• Name of the country would be Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
• Objective resolution to be the preamble of the constitution
• System of the country would be federal
• President should be a Muslim of 40 years of age
• The prime minister would be the head of the parliament
• Judiciary would be independent
• Official language would be Urdu and Bengali
• No law to be passed against the teachings of Islam.
In 1955, Ghulam Muhammad fell ill and was replaced by Iskandar Mirza. At that time the East and West Pakistan instability was rising which lead the president Iskandar Mirza, on 7th October 1958, to abrogate the first constitution, dissolving assemblies and impose a martial law. Just after two years Pakistan was once again deprived of its constitution.
General Ayub Khan took over power on 27th October 1958. He appointed a constitution commission to draft a constitution on 17th February 1960. Not after a long time on 29th April 1961, the commission submitted a report about the constitution. Finally, the second constitution was presented in 1962. The features of this constitution are as under:
• The constitution would be written and lengthy
• It would be rigid and not easily amendable
• The system of the country would be federal
• Presidential form of government
• Indirect method of election
• Powers of the president to be increased
• Fundamental rights to be provided to all citizens
• Official language would be Urdu and Bengali
• No law would be passed that goes against Islam.
The 1962 constitution was not successful at all because it had given vast powers to the president such as:
• Appointing prime minister and governors
• Not responsible to assembly
• Ministers would be responsible to the president
• President can dissolve assembly
In 1965, Ayub Khan was accused of corruption, which resulted in nation wide agitation and riots. Considering such problems, Ayub Khan handed over power to General Yahya Khan. Yahya Khan imposes martial law and after 7 years in 1969, the constitution was abrogated again.
Yahya Khan held elections in 1970. The results of these elections created the worst instability in the country as both East and West Pakistan engaged in a huge conflict. Mujeeb ur Rehman won the elections with a fair margin but the power was not transferred to Mujeeb Ur Rehman but to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. These clashes resulted in the separation of Bangladesh. Pakistan had to suffer a lot under these situations when on 21st April 1972 the third interim constitution was presented. Most of the features of the constitution remained the same. However, some changes came to be seen such as:
• The powers of the prime minister extended
• Parliamentary form of government was established
• Bicameral Legislation
• Urdu as national Language
• Islamic institution
Even the Constitution of 1973 faced several challenges as Bhutto’s policies caused instability in the country again and the power had to be transferred to General Zia Ul Haq who imposed the third martial law in 1977 and the ruled the country for another 11 years. During the Bhutto’s rule 7 amendments were made in the constitution. Zia Ul Haq made an amendment through presidential order no. 14 by inserting article 58 (2) (b) according to which president could dissolve the assembly according to his discretion. This amendment resulted in dissolving of several assemblies such as Benazir Bhutto’s in 1990 and Nawaz Shareef’s as well when finally Nawaz Shareef through the 13th amendment deleted 58 (2)(b) from the constitution.
Pakistan’s constitutional history had faced several challenges but currently the conditions are quite stable and light hope for a progressive Pakistan.