By Taha Imran and Myra Ahmed
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, emboldened with values central to the Land of the Pure, has undergone a range of changes throughout the country's short but eventful history. Maintaining most core features of constitutions around the world, Pakistan's 'law of the land' calls for the preservation of the fundamental rights of its citizens, ranging from bans on forced labour, all the way to freedom of movement, assembly and speech.
Page 18/19 of Pakistan's Constitution emphasising the state's provisions for social justice and equality.
Upon Independence, Pakistan inherited the constitution of India, which meant that colonialism pervaded much of its foundations. In 1956, Pakistan abolished the office of governor-general, which was originally the highest position in government, to form a new system of power-sharing between a prime minister and president. This was again amended in 1962, shifting power to the President and abolishing the office of the Prime Minister. Periods of unrest, with martial law and the establishment of Bangladesh as a separate state, meant that a range of new changes had to be made, leading to the formation of a new constitution in 1973 - this one, curated by elected representatives of the state. A few key principles were then established:
Power was concentrated in the prime minister, and the president was obliged to act upon the advice of the prime minister.
Parliament comprised of two houses (similar to the UK's HoC and HoL, or the US's HoR and Congress) - the National Assembly and the Senate.
There would be four provincial governments, with significant powers devolved from the federal government to provincial leaders.
"Wherein the State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people; Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed..."
Following this period, as most would know, shifts between military and civilian rule led to a range of further changes and amendments, but today's constitution is more or less aligned with those of democracies across the globe.
Something that differentiates the Pakistani constitution from most other nations, is that all of its aspects conform to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, ensuring the preservation of the country's Islamic ideology and the promotion of Islamic values - that fundamentally safeguard the rights and liberties of all citizens. Islamic rulings, which protect everything from intellect to property to lineage, formed the foundation of Pakistan's constitutional framework, allowing for democratic processes to build upon these to establish a strong, prosperous state.
But the fact is that over the past 70 years, very little of our time has been spent actually abiding by and furthering the notions established in the constitution. From the rights of women and minorities, to the protection of freedoms of association, expression, speech and information - how far have we really come?
As all snippets of Pakistan's constitution have shown throughout this article - the problems we face today are ones of our own making, and not ones inherently 'part of our social fabric', as is often argued. Our inability to see beyond the information tunnels we have perpetuated for years now has submitted us to a spiral of decline that can only be exited with the realisation of our fundamental freedoms, and our responsible use of those freedoms not for our personal gains, but for the progression of a Pakistan where "the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam" are truly and fully observed.
How do you think we can build such a Pakistan? Join this week's discussion on our Instagram @landofthepure.official!
http://www.na.gov.pk/publications/constitution.pdf https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/05/15/how-islamic-is-pakistans-constitution/ https://www.bloomsburyprofessional.com/uk/the-constitution-of-pakistan-9781509919130/ https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/pakistans-constitution
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