Constitutional Development in Pakistan (1947-1956)

Constitutional Development of Pakistan (1947-1956)

Emergence of Pakistan was not a simple event. The newly born Pakistan was the largest Muslim state in the world. This country faced numerous problems. To face these problems was a challenge for the then leadership. On one side there were anti-Muslim global conspiracies while on the other side the state countenanced the problems like distribution of the assets between Pakistan and India, water problem, migration of Indian Muslims to Pakistan and their rehabilitation, establishment of new administrative structure and especially to frame new constitution. A country cannot be governed without such a constitution which is to reflect socio-economic, political, cultural and religious needs of the governed and which is recognized by the majority of the concerned citizens. In Pakistan the framers of the new constitution faced severe problems for example, Pakistan was multi-racial state and settlement of the racial and linguistic issues was not an easy task. This country was achieved in the name of Islam and to make an Islamic constitution was also a challenge. There were some other obstacles in farming the constitution. G.W.Chaudry says, “A constitution is not framed in a vacuum. It is produce in the light of the particular socio-political situations prevailing at a certain time.” The same was in Pakistan.
It is quite obvious that a civilized state cannot be run without a valid political setup and Pakistan required a constitution.  So, the following steps were taken towards making the first constitution.

To Adopt Government of India Act-1935:

There was no immediate solution to frame a constitution best suited to the demands of the people of –divergent and varying interests. Section-8 of the government of India Independence Act-1947 allowed both, India and Pakistan to adopt the Government of India Act-1935 as an interim constitution for their countries. Both the newly independent states were allowed to make amendments in the Act-1935 according to their needs. So, Government of Pakistan adopted Government of India Act-1935 with some necessary amendments as the interim constitution. This arrangement was temporary because this Act was not in position to satisfy Pakistanis. A new constitution was the prime requirement.

The First Constituent Assembly:

In the light of the provisions of the cabinet Mission Plan, elections were held for electing the constituent assembly of India in July, 1946. Due to insoluble differences between the Indian Congress and All India Muslim League, the newly constituent assembly was divided into two independent assemblies, one for Pakistan and the other for India. The inaugural session of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was held in Karachi from 10thAugust to 14th August 1947. On the very first day, Jogenra Nath Mandal, minority representative from the East Pakistan was unanimously elected as the first president of assembly. On 11th August Quied-e-Azam was elected as a permanent president of the assembly. The Constituent Assembly was comprised of sixty-nine members but representation was given to the states of Bahwalpur, khairpur, Balochistan and tribal areas and its number increased to seventy-four.

The Objective Resolution:

Up to March 1949 the Constituent Assembly did nothing. In March, 1949 the then first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan moved a resolution in the legislature. The assembly passed the same, which was to provide main guidelines to the framers of the constitution of Pakistan. The Objective Resolution provided for sovereignty of Allah, freedom of the people, democracy in the country, to ensure equality, to ensure rights to minorities, to enumerate fundamental rights, to ensure social justice according to the provisions of Islam and independence of judiciary etc. There was mixed reaction on the Objectives Resolution. Some rejected it because it was against secularism while some ulema rejected because it was against the basic concepts of Islam and it was secular in nature.

Formation of Committees:

The Constituent Assembly framed various committees to prepare proposals for the future constitution. The most important was the Basic Principles Committee. It was framed in 12th march, 1949 and was assigned the responsibility to suggest main principles for the constitution but within the boundaries drawn by the Objective Resolution. It was composed of twenty-four members and was authorized to select maximum ten members outside the legislature. The committee appointed three sub-committees i.e. the sub-committee on federalism and distribution of powers, sub-committee on franchise and sub-committee on judiciary. A special committee was also appointed by the Basic Principles Committee.

The Interim Report:

The interim report was presented by Liaqat Ali Khan before the assembly provided that the Objective Resolution be incorporated in the constitution; to enable the Muslims to spend their lives in accordance with the provisions of Shariah; name of the state would Pakistan comprised of the governor’s provinces, chief commissioner’s province, the capital and the states acceded to or may accede to the Federation of Pakistan; federal form of government; a Muslim head of the state elected by both the houses of legislature; a prime minister nominated by the president and supported by both the houses; council of ministers responsible collectively to legislature; bicameral legislature in which the upper house would ‘House of Units’ equally representing the legislature of the units and the House of People elected by the people; both the houses be elected for five years; equal powers of both houses; three lists i.e. the federal list, the provincial list and the concurrent list. Urdu would be the national language.
Reaction on the interim report was not encouraging. Religious forces criticized it on the grounds that the report was less Islamic. Bengalis declared it against their interests because Urdu was declared as the only national language. Political alliance in Bengal, Jactho Front has demanded to declare Bengali as the only national language. Liaqat Ali Khan announced that the report was not final and that a complete report having mass acceptance has been decided to be presented. He was assassinated on 16thOctober, 1951. The new Prime Minister, Khawaja Nazim ud Din, carried out the task and another report was presented in December 1952.

Second Report-1952:

The Basic Principles Committee presented its report in the Premiership of Khawaja Nazim ud Din providing that the Objective Resolution be the part of the preamble; No law against Shariah could be made; name of the state would Pakistan comprised of the provinces, federal capital and states acceded to federation; federal form of government; parliamentary system; a Muslim head of the state elected by both the houses of the central legislature; the head of the state would nominate one Muslim member of the lower house to become the Prime Minister then seeking the majority command in the lower house and their would a council of ministers; bicameral legislature elected for five years each i.e. the House of Units and the House of People. The upper house elected by the provincial legislature would have 120 members equal representation to East and West Pakistan (Presently Bangladesh). The lower house was to be directly elected by the people and its strength would 400 equal representation to both the wings; three lists i.e. federal; provincial and concurrent while undefined powers with the center; a supreme court at the of the judicial pyramid. Central and provincial legislature could amend the constitution; a Board of Ulema to check the Islamic validity of the acts and to declare null and void the anti-Shariah laws. Reaction on this report also brought unrest. It was criticized on the grounds of parity.

Bogra’s Formula:

The prime minister, Khawaja Nazim ud Din was dismissed by the then Governor General, Ghulam Muhammad. Ghulam Muhammad had thirsted for power and was reluctant to accept any other in power. On one side a democratic government was dismissed while on the other side democracy was rubbed when the then Pakistani ambassador in USA, Muhammad Ali Bogra was called to become the new Prime Minister and unfortunately the then ruling Muslim League accepted Bogra as its parliamentary party leader on 16th April, 1953 although he was not the member of the legislature. The committee presented its report to the Constituent Assembly under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Bogra on 7thOctober, 1953 which is known as the Bogra’s Formula.
The report provided that the name of the state would Islamic Republic of Pakistan having federal form of government with parliamentary setup. The powers were distributed in three lists namely the federal list, the unit list and the concurrent list. The Objective Resolution would be the integral part of the preamble. The report proposed a bicameral legislature in which the upper chamber had fifty members ten each from the five provinces and two temporary additional seats reserved for woman. 
Election of the Second Constituent Assembly:

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An eighty membered Constituent Assembly was elected from and but he provincial assemblies and a new government with Ch. Muhammad as a Prime Minister was sworn in. The new assembly passed the West Pakistan act on 30thSeptember, 1955 and one unit system was enforced. Ch. Muhammad Ali was a devoted and patriotic leader and presented a draft constitution before the Assembly in January, 1956. On 23rd March, 1956, the new Constitution was adopted.