Constitutional Development in Pakistan

Hidayat Ullah


By Hidayat Ullah
(Student at Department of History, Quaid e Azam University, Islamabad)


Constitution is speculated to be the most important because it protects the individual freedom and other fundamental rights of the masses. The checkered constitutional History of Pakistan has its roots back to when Pakistan got independence in 1947. It was after nine years that Pakistan succeeded in drafting its own Constitution. From the issues of evacuees to the devastating water and deficiency of food to the bombing strength of Quaid e Azam, the father of the nation and genuine absence of fit political pioneers in charge of the express, the resultant is the unpropitious postponement in Constitution making caused significant issues were to torment Pakistan for the years to come. The country became a republic when its Constitution was approved in 1956, but this was abrogated in 1958 after the Military coup of General Ayub Khan. In 1962, Ayub Khan promulgated the second Constitution of Pakistan. It was the fundamental law of Islamic Republic of Pakistan from June 1962. The Constitution of 1962 was abrogated by General Yahya Khan in 1969. At last on 14 August 1973 the country seen its Constitution of 1973, which was drafted by the then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto with special assistance from the opposition. Up till now 25 amendments have been made in this Constitution with most of the amendments made for the benefit of Elite’s. The eighteenth amendment which was passed by the national assembly on April 8, 2010. The eighteenth amendment had a very wide ambit. It was meant to bring the spirit back. It developed power to the provinces and reduced the scope of the Centre. It established structures or refined those with mandatory jurisdiction of concurrence by the provinces contributed, Pakistan to be without Constitution for very nearly 10 years. This was the hour of political unsteadiness, disturbance and turmoil. Apart from the eighteenth amendment there is no such amendment that benefits the people of Pakistan, who are the real owners of the state. Just to make it intelligible, it’s pertinent to give examples from the past. The seventh amendment in the Constitution was made in May 1977, to prolong reign of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but it was never eventuated because his Government was overthrown by Military dictator on 5th July 1977. Likewise the 8th amendment changed Pakistan’s Government from a parliamentary system to a semi-presidential system by giving the president of Pakistan a number of additional powers. The 19th amendment in the Constitution is also an example of how these amendments only benefits the Echelons of country. The 19th amendment provided for the appointment of the judges of the supreme court of Pakistan and made amendments in the number of members of the parliamentary committee for the appointment of chief electoral officers at election commission. Seventeenth amendment was passed in 2003 to validate orders and ordinances of General Pervez Musharraf. Twenty second amendment was made in 2016 to make changes in appointment procedure of Election Commission of Pakistan, as per retired civil servant’s/ bureaucrats and technocrats can become member of election commission. It is held fast that 22nd amendment was made to manipulate and rig the Elections of 2018 in favor of the ruling Elite’s. The catch cry of amending laws has been “taking bull by the horns”. Astonishingly, all the political parties have molded laws in their favor whenever they had been power. The critical nexus between the establishment and the ruling party had hit the Constitutional reforms fiercely. In order to serve their intrigues, they amend laws in their favor with totally disbanding the real owners of state. In a country where the Islamic ideology is pinioned with democracy, laws would have perquisite the masses is hardly to be even think off. In fact the Max maximalist behavior of the theocrats to not let any such reforms be materialized has hindered both the democratic process and Constitutional reforms. In the midst of all the factions trying to serve their intrigues the masses have become the victims. The legislative bodies should therefore, do well to take into account these lessons from our past political history, which clearly indicates Pakistani people’s preference for parliamentary form of government, maximum powers for the provinces and ensuring independence of judiciary. The process of political development in Pakistan represents an evolution, through various stages, of our polity from a highly centralized and authoritarian system under the interim constitution based on 1935 Act to a genuinely federal and parliamentary system under 1973 constitution. The adherence to these principles is a sine qua non for a stable, united, progressive and democratic Pakistan.