Disruptions in constitutional rule can have dire consequences, leading to political instability, uncertainty, and a breakdown of effective governance. Such interruptions create legal loopholes, weaken institutional foundations, erode public trust, and pave the way for authoritarianism, corruption, and the abuse of power. They also create an enabling environment for dishonest individuals, criminals, and organized crime syndicates to flourish, ultimately undermining the core values of society.

Reflecting on the historical context surrounding the formulation of Pakistan’s constitution is essential. The period of Dominion status from 1947 to 1956, without a constitution, delayed the nation’s transition to a republic. The absence of a drafted constitution during the Pakistan movement raises questions about the lack of concerted efforts to have one for the nascent nation.

The Objectives Resolution, adopted by the Constituent Assembly on March 12th, 1949, holds great significance in this context. It affirms that the sovereignty over the entire universe rests solely with Almighty Allah, with the people of Pakistan entrusted to exercise His authority as a sacred trust. The Objectives Resolution underscores principles such as democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance, and social justice, all rooted in the Islamic framework.

However, the government, comprised largely of former colonial-era bureaucrats seemed to disregard these principles while governing the country. Their policies often favoured the interests of America, their allies, and influential segments of society, prioritizing these over the welfare of the common people of Pakistan.

When the first constitution of Pakistan was drafted, civil and military bureaucrats largely ignored the principles outlined in the Objectives Resolution. They failed to respect the federal character of the nation by amalgamating all provinces and territories on the western side, disregarding the original intent of the resolution.

Unfortunately, the judiciary, stemming from the colonial era, did not intervene to challenge this deviation. Consequently, Pakistan encountered difficulties in delivering justice, achieving prosperity, and earning international respect.

Questions arise regarding the authorization that allowed bureaucrats and military leaders to align Pakistan with organizations like SEATO and CENTO, affiliating themselves with the predecessors of figures like Netanyahu and Biden within the Imperialist Bloc. This decision raised concerns about Pakistan’s commitment to maintaining its independence and prioritizing its struggle for autonomy.

The civil and military bureaucrats failed to recognize that the ultimate authority of Almighty Allah resides in the people of Pakistan. Despite their demand for independence, the people’s aspirations were not fully realized, resulting in a lack of access to education and dignity, which had been overlooked during British rule.

The population continued to suffer under the weight of essential personnel and administrative hierarchies. Consequently, the military leaders violated the constitution drafted by bureaucrats without encountering significant resistance, often with the support of the judiciary.

The judiciary’s role, particularly in cases like the Moulvi Tamizuddin Khan and Dosso, revealed a disregard for the Objectives Resolution. In such instances, the judiciary supported the annulment of the initial constitution and endorsed martial law imposed by the military leadership. This left observers questioning the judiciary’s commitment to principles of dignity and honour.

In such a complex environment, it became exceedingly challenging for independent political thinkers and movements to emerge in the new country. Many of those who had played crucial roles in the struggle against British colonial rule were either brutally silenced or executed.

Consequently, the people of Pakistan continued to face economic, social, political, and cultural deprivation, remaining subjugated by dominant classes and state institutions. They endured lives marked by misery and poverty, even as the military-dominated government in the 1960s celebrated their favourable reception by American authorities.

These leaders proudly claimed credit for economic growth, the creation of powerful families, and the increase in GDP. However, these achievements had limited impact on the people who held the sacred trust of Almighty Allah’s authority.

Despite the incorporation of the Objectives Resolution into the constitution by General Zia in 1985, and its transformation into a substantive part through the insertion of Article 2A of the Constitution, its implementation remained largely dormant.

Pakistan has yet to fully embrace genuine federalism, and the dream of autonomy for its constituent units remains distant. Nevertheless, it is imperative to translate this dream into a tangible reality for the betterment of the people.

Instead of advocating for the autonomy of federating units, some individuals in the media, academia, and politics persistently discuss the division of Pakistan’s constituent provinces without their consent. This agenda appears aimed at sowing chaos and diverting attention from genuine issues.

It’s essential to recognize that the 18th Amendment represented a step toward empowering the provinces within the federation, with the National Finance Commission (NFC) designed to provide financial resources to reinforce this empowerment. If funds allocated to the provinces are being misappropriated, the solution lies in transparent and accountable governance rather than pursuing any other course.

Critics of the 18th Amendment, the NFC, and the empowerment of provinces fail to grasp that once the path of balkanization is embarked upon, it is challenging to reverse.

For instance, those advocating for the separation of Karachi from the rest of Sindh may overlook the constitutional requirement for a majority in the Assembly to pass such a resolution. This separation would not be possible without it. Furthermore, proponents of such divisions may disregard the potential chain reaction, with other districts making similar claims, leading to further fragmentation.

The ultimate solution lies in good governance, facilitated by harnessing digitization, digitalization, and robust enforcement of laws granting access to information at both federal and provincial levels, while upholding constitutional rule. Achieving transparency, accountability, efficiency, a reduction in corruption, and increased resource availability to the people can be realized through these means.

Crucially, devolving autonomous and financial powers to local governments is of paramount importance. Empowered and effective local governments can function as autonomous provinces in their own right, ensuring that the solution lies in effective governance and the decentralization of powers to the grassroots level.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Dr Murtaza Khuhro

The writer is a retired Civil Servant and Advocate at the High Court. [email protected]

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