Abandoning & Disregarding Constitution at Heart of Pakistan’s Crisis


On April 10, 1973, the National Assembly gave Pakistan a permanent Constitution that has lasted, even if tampered with and tweaked, for the lats 50 years. The 1973 document gave Pakistan the basic structure it has today: a directly elected parliamentary system with a bicameral legislature rooted in federalism.


In the words of an editorial in Dawn, “The Constitution has survived suspension, mutilation and military coups, showing commendable resilience. The most brazen assaults on the document came during the Zia and Musharraf eras of military rule, but thanks largely to the indefatigable efforts of Senator Raza Rabbani, the 18th Amendment, 2010, revived the spirit of the original document by ensuring provincial autonomy and undoing the damage done by military strongmen.”


The 1973 Constitution may not be a perfect document but as the Dawn Editorial notes, “the only solution lies in respecting the constitutional order and working to implement the lofty goals laid out by the basic law. Tinkering by adventurers — uniformed and civilian — opens the door to ad-hocism, and unleashes forces that threaten the very existence of the federation.”


50 years after the adoption of the Constitution “the predicament that Pakistan finds itself in today is largely due to abandoning the constitutional framework. Respecting this framework would mean that all institutions act within their constitutional bounds — with the military resisting its saviour complex and yielding to elected authorities; political parties and civilian leaders tolerating each other and finding democratic, constitutional solutions to their disputes, instead of threatening to tear down the system, or rushing off to Rawalpindi for ‘guidance’; and the superior judiciary refraining from any temptation to ‘rewrite’ the Constitution.”



Author: Mukhtar Ahmed