Constituent Assembly of Pakistan

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The constituent assembly of Pakistan (Bengali: পাকিস্তান গণপরিষদ, Pākistān Gaṇāpāriṣād; Urdu: آئین ساز اسمبلی, Aāin Sāz Asimblī‎), was formed to write Pakistan's constitution, and serve as its first parliament. It first convened on August 11, 1947, on the eve of independence and the end of British rule. Muhammad Ali Jinnah remained its president until his death on September 11, 1948. Subsequently Liaquat Ali Khan headed it for three years, and produced Objectives Resolution which served as the annex to Pakistan's constitution. It was dissolved on October 24, 1954, by Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad. Muhammad Ali Bogra was the prime minister at the time.

After Jinnah's death, the assembly was widely criticized for its incompetence. Addressing a rally in Lahore on October 14, 1950, Maulana Maududi demanded its dissolution, arguing that the 'lampost legislators' were incapable of drawing up an Islamic constitution. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy said that assembly did not possess any of the characteristics of a democratic parliament. He argued that the nation would overlook any unconstitutional action on the governor general's part, if he exorcised the fascist demon and established representative institutions.[1]

In contrast, the Indian constituent assembly, which had more diversity, took less than two and a half years to draw up the constitution. The Indian constitution was promulgated on January 26, 1950, and first general elections were held in 1952.[2]

The second constituent assembly reconstituted on May 28, 1955. The constitution was promulgated on March 23, 1956, and Pakistan became an Islamic republic. On October 7, 1958, martial law was clamped on the country. The new regime abrogated the constitution, declaring it unworkable.

Pakistan's constituent assembly was preceded by the constituent assembly of India, which first met on December 9, 1946 in Delhi, while India was still under British rule. It originally included the provinces that now compose Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the representation of the princely states of India. In June 1947, the delegations from the provinces of Sindh, East Bengal, Baluchistan, West Punjab and the North West Frontier Province formed the constituent assembly of Pakistan in Karachi.

After coming to power, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto invited the leaders of the parliamentary parties to meet him on October 17, 1972, which resulted in an agreement known as the 'constitutional accord', after an intensive discussion. As per consultations floated by the PPP, the National Assembly of Pakistan appointed a 25-member committee, on April 17, 1972, to prepare a draft of the permanent constitution of Pakistan. Mahmud Ali Kasuri was the elected chairman of the committee. On October 20, 1972, the draft bill for the constitution was signed by leaders of all parliamentary groups in the National Assembly. A bill to provide a constitution for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was introduced in the assembly on February 2, 1973. The assembly passed the bill nearly unanimously on April 10, 1973 and endorsed by the acting President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on April 12, 1973.[3] The constitution came into effect on August 14, 1973. On the same day, Bhutto took over as the prime minister and Choudhary Fazal-e-Elahi as the president. On July 5, 1977, General Zia staged his military coup and suspended the constitution, which was restored in 1985. Similarly, when General Musharraf took over in 1999, the constitution was suspended for several years.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Inamur Rehman, Public Opinion and Political Development in Pakistan (Karachi, Oxford, 1982)
  2. ^ ^ "Introduction to Constitution of India". Ministry of Law and Justice of India. July 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  3. ^ [1] Jennifer Musa

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