By Rehana Sarwar
Pakistan has had a troubled constitutional history since its very inception as a nation state. Not long after partition from India in 1947, Pakistan was plunged into a Constitutional crisis in 1954 when the Governor General dissolved the Constituent Assembly when he did not agree to the proposed constitution. A new Constituent Assembly adopted the country’s first constitution in March, 1956, it lasted only two years until the first President of Pakistan, Ma
jor General Iskandar Mirza, abrogated the Constitution, dissolved the national and provincial legislatures and imposed Martial Law in October, 1958, appointing General Ayub Khan as the Chief Martial Law Administrator.
After passing a new Constitution in 1962 that empowered an autocratic executive, General Ayub Khan ruled until 1962. In March 1969, the country plunged into yet another constitutional and political crisis leading to the imposition of Martial Law and the Constitution was abrogated.
In1973 Pakistan adopted its current constitution after thorough deliberation and consensus of all the political parties. The Constitution of Pakistan created a parliamentary form of government following the British model whereby the elected Prime Minister is the locus of executive power and the President is a figurehead.
In 1973 the Parliament unanimously passed a new Constitution and it was because of wide approval and acceptance that it continues to be the Constitution of the country. In 1977, General Elections were held, there were serious allegations of rigging, and there was country wide street agitation which prompted the Army to take over. Assemblies were dissolved, government was dismissed and constitution was declared to be “held in abeyance”.
This period of constitutional deviation continued till 1985 when the constitution was revived and with this came the 18th amendment in the Constitution which was approved by the Parliament. In 1999, a Proclamation of Emergency was declared, the constitution was put in abeyance, a Provincial Constitutional Order (PCO) was issued to provide a temporary governing framework, and General Musharraf assumed the office of the Chief Executive.
In August 2008, General Musharraf resigned as President amidst a threat of impeachment by the legislators. Subsequently Asif Ali Zardari, chairman of the PPP, was elected as President of Pakistan. The government was replaced by PML-N in 2013, and Mamnoon Hussain was elected as President of Pakistan.
After having a glance at constitutional history of Pakistan, the question arises are constitutions made to be dissolved or amended by the leaders of two political parties or by a single Army General? Strongly protected and implemented constitution is one of the three organs of the state, and good governance is possible only if the three remain within their defined limits. Any amendment in constitution should be made under the consensus of all three organs of the state. Anything done by any one strongest institution to strengthen and empower its authorities will ultimately lead to resentment in the other two institutions. So the dire need of time is to protect and implement constitution in its true spirit; not to give legal protection to the benefits of a handful people of higher authorities. Justice has to be preserved and prevailed today, for a better tomorrow. Dr. Martin Luther King says rightly, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
(The writer is an educationist working as Section Head at Garrison Academy Junior, Sarwar Shaheed Campus Lahore. She can be reached at: rehana