The Objectives Resolution was the first constitutional document that proved to be the ‘foundation’ of the constitutional developments in Pakistan. It provided parameters and sublime principles to the legislators. It made the constitution-making process easy task setting some particular objectives before them that would be acceptable to the people of Pakistan who had suffered a lot under the Hindu-dominated majority. The Resolution was moved by Liaquat Ali Khan, the then Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and approved on March 12, 1949.
The Constituent Assembly (1947-54)
The first Constituent Assembly came into existence under Indian Independence Act 1947. The elections were held in July 1946 to decide the destiny of the All India Muslim League (AIML)’s claim that it is the only representative party of the Indian Muslims that desire separate homeland, Pakistan. The members from the districts that became part of Pakistan were declared members of the Constituent Assembly. The number of such members was 69. It increased to 79 after the 1947 when some states joined Pakistan and then increase in the population. There were two major parties, Muslim League and Congress in the Assembly at that time. This Assembly had dual functions to perform.
Features of the Objectives Resolution
1. Sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone.
2. The authority which He has delegated to the state of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust.
3. Constitution will be framed for sovereign, independent state of Pakistan.
4. The state shall exercise its power through the representatives of the people.
5. Principles of Democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam will be fully observed.
6. Muslims shall be enabled to organize their lives in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Quran and the Sunnah.
7. Minorities to have freedom to freely profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures.
8. Provisions for safeguarding the legitimate interests of minorities, backward and depressed classes.
9. Pakistan shall be a Federation with autonomous units. State’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will be protected.
10. People of Pakistan should prosper and attain their rightful place in the comity of nations and make contribution towards international peace and progress and happiness of humanity.
Explanation and Importance
The Resolution declared the sovereignty of God as the distinctive political philosophy. The Western democracy gives the notion that sovereignty lies in the people but this Resolution is important having the concept of the sovereignty of God. It clarified that people would utilize powers gifted by God so they would have to work within the limits prescribed by Him. The exercise of the powers is a sacred trust. The representatives of the people of Pakistan will manage the affairs under the universal ideology of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance, and social justice with the spirit of an Islamic framework.
The Resolution pledged to give the due respect and rights to the minorities, backward and depressed classes in the benign society of Pakistan. Their rights, interests, religion and culture were not confuted.
It’s important that the Resolution promised the federating units for due powers, autonomy and territorial integrity.
Objections by Non-Muslims
The major objection by the Non-Muslims was that the government was trying to mix the religion and politics that was against the spirit of democracy. The non-Muslims objected on the ‘Sovereignty of Allah’ and minorities’ rights, saying it would promote inequality in the society. They were also of view that Shariah was not adequate for the modern time. They feared that it would encourage the religious extremists to work for the establishment of a ‘theocratic state.’
The Objectives Resolution is a basic and primary document of the constitutional history of Pakistan. It is a framework that provides mechanism to achieve goals for a better life of the people of Pakistan. It’s important that it embraces centrality of Islam to polity sustaining their links with the pre-independence period. The AIML leaders were modernist Muslims not in favour of an orthodox religious state. Therefore, they selected the middle way abiding by the Islamic laws and the international democratic values. The Resolution remained ‘Preamble of all the constitutions due to its importance.
Constitution is a set of basic principles and framework for governance and exercise of political power and legal authority. It clarifies the scope of power, relationship among various institutions within the government and society. It has precedence over ordinary laws and cannot be changed like ordinary laws. The Government of India Act (1935) was modified and promulgated in the newly state of Pakistan. The elected members in the 1946 elections made the first Constituent Assembly that faced grievous circumstances.
The major issues, the first constituent assembly faced, were about:
3. Separate or Joint Electorate
4. The National Language Issue
5. Parliamentary or Presidential system
6. The Islamic or Secular State
There was consensus on federalism but yet there were many issues to be settled. The main was that Pakistan consisted of two territorial parts, East Pakistan (with more population, less territory but administratively one unit) and West Pakistan (administratively 4 units). Federalism is meant to accommodate such kind of diversity maintaining the unity of the state or country.
Division of power:
It was the most difficult question that how the power would be divided between Centre and the Provinces. The heritage of British rule gave the tradition of a Strong Centre. But the provinces were demanding more Autonomy and Provincial Rights.
In the Interim Constitution and the 1956 Constitution tradition of strong centre continued.
Representation at the federal level was another conflicting issue because East Pakistan and West Pakistan were different in population and size. On the other hand there was diversity in Western part of Pakistan. The provinces of West Pakistan were also different in population and size. All of them were sensitive to their representation and provincial autonomy.
To have a Standard Formula for the representation of units and population the Constituent Assembly (CA) formed a Basic Principle Committee (BPC) on March 12, 1949. The primary task of this committee was to frame a set of basic principles for the future constitution of Pakistan.
First BPC Report:
This committee presented its first report on 28th September 1950. According to this report two houses of the parliament were proposed. The lower house was to be elected on the basis of POPULATION and the upper house was to be elected on the basis of equal representation for all the provinces of Pakistan namely East Bengal, West Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan.
Equal powers were proposed for the both Houses. No mention of National Language was made.
East Bengal opposed this report and Liaqat Ali Khan withdrew it.
Second BPC Report:
BPC presented its final report on 22nd December 1952. According to this report two Houses of the Parliament will enjoy the equal status and powers. It proposed equal representation to East and West wing.
This report also faced reaction in both the wings of Pakistan. The principle of parity was not appreciated in both East Pakistan and Punjab.
Muhammad Ali Bogra Formula:
Muhammad Ali Bogra immediately after assuming the office of the Prime Minister presented a formula to resolve the deadlock in constitution making. According to this formula Pakistan would have a bicameral legislature. In upper house there would be EQUAL representation to each of five units. In lower house population will be represented. In this way more representation was given to East Pakistan.
Both wings would have equal strength in joint sessions of the two houses.
Reaction to Bogra Formula
It was welcomed in both parts of the country. The principle of parity and representation of the population was appreciated. It also solved the problem of national language by suggesting Urdu and Bengali both as national language.
One Unit of West Pakistan October 1955
One Unit of West Pakistan was established on 14th October 1955. The provinces of Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan would be amalgamated in one unit to establish parity between the two parts of the country.
Separate or Joint Electorate
Separate electorate was adopted on the demand of Muslims in 1909 by the British Government. But the minorities did not favour this after independence. Religious elements supported this as a part of heritage.
East: decided for Joint Electorate. West: Separate electorate.
1957: Joint Electorate was adopted for all Pakistan by the National Assembly.
The National Language Issue
Pre-independence: Muslim elite all over India adopted Urdu. In 1948 Jinnah declared that Urdu would be the national language but provinces could use their languages.
Opposition against Urdu was there in East Bengal. This became more pronounced after the death of Jinnah as controversies erupted on constitution making. Language Movement started in East Pakistan February, 1952.
There was a complaint about anti Bengali language attitude of the federal government.
Two-language formula was adopted in 1954. Since 1973 Urdu was adopted as national language along with the support for development of regional languages.
Parliamentary or Presidential
There was a consensus for parliamentary system. But there was a limited demand for presidential system. Supporters of Presidential system became dominant after the 1958 military takeover. The 1962 Constitution was a Presidential constitution.
The Islamic or Secular State
From the very beginning of Pakistan Movement there was an agreement that the state will have close relationship with Islam. Muslims defined their national identity with reference to Islam and its heritage. Some opposition came from the Congress members of the Constituent Assembly, and a few secularists.
There was a BROAD AGREEMENT that the state will identify itself with Islam. The Constituent Assembly took time to define the precise relationship between the state and Islam.
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