1973 April Constitution surviving for 45 years

IN little over 70 years of its existence, Pakistan had had three constitutions one after the other. Pending promulgation of a Constitution, the Government of Indian Act 1935 with necessary alterations and modifications through the Pakistan (Provisional Constitution) Order 1947 was as adopted as the provisional Constitution. First Constitution was enforced in 1956 when Pakistan also became the Republic of Pakistan. It proved short-lived and was abrogated in October 1958 when President Major General Iskander Mirza and first Muslim Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army General Muhammad Ayub Khan had connived and imposed first martial law in the country just eleven years of its coming in existence.
The second Constitution of Pakistan was promulgated on March 1, 1962 and the martial law was lifted. On March 25, 1969, martial law was again imposed in the country as Commander-in-Chief General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan seized power. Third Constitution enforced in 1973 has survived many crisis over the years and enforcement of its enforcement has gone down in the annals of history as Nation celebrated 70th Independence Day on August 14, 2017 and is bracing up to another on August 14, 2018 under a new democratic set up at the national and provincial levels following the general elections to be held in July 2018 under the caretaker set up.
The 1973 Constitution has been suspended and held in abeyance at least twice and by now amended as many as 20 times during its about 45 years of existence in the politically chequered history of Pakistan as the Constitution is being talked about in both negative and positive manner by different political quarters mostly. Hence this piece of making brief mention of making of the longest surviving Constitution and its makers. The Nation celebrating the Independence Day every year somehow forgets to mark another anniversary of the Constitution which has survived the martial law regime of third military ruler General Muhammad Ziaul Haq and also civil cum military rule of General Pervez Musharraf after it was passed by the National Assembly on April 10, 1973, authenticated by the then President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and promulgated on August 14 1973.
The promulgation of the new Constitution, framed after dismemberment of Pakistan following the Fall of Dacca in December 1971, also marked stepping down of country’s fist civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator and President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and becoming the first democratically elected Prime Minister and the then Speaker of the National Assembly Fazal Elahi Chaudhry elevated to the highest office of the land, the President.
Younger generations coming into this world after cessation of East Pakistan and becoming Bangladesh might have heard about suspension and being held in abeyance of the Constitution need to be apprised about the making of the Constitution provided they are interested in the political and other developments of their own country.
But not many young ones and middle aged people breathing in the width and breadth of Pakistan would be all that familiar with the makers of the 1973 Constitution. The remainder of the National Assembly elected in December 1970 had constituted the Constitution Committee through a resolution passed on April 17,1972 in pursuance of Article 8 of the National Assembly (Short Session) Order 1972. The Committee so constituted and headed by Mian Mahmud Ali Kasuri was given the important task of preparation of a draft of the permanent Constitution by August 1, 1972.
Other members of the 24 members besides Mian Mahmud Ali Kasuri of the Constitution Committee were Dr Mubashir Hasan, Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Malik Meraj Khalid, Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, Ghous Bux Bizenjo, Ghulam Mustafa Khan Jatoi, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Dr Mrs Ashraf Abbasi, Dr Ghulam Hussain, Malik Muhammad Akhtar, Maulana Kausar Niazi, Khurshid Hassan Meer, Sheikh Muhammad Rashid, Maulana Mufti Mehmud, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, Muhammad Haneef Khan, Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani, Professor Ghafoor Ahmad, Amirzada Khan, Sirdar Shaukat Hyat Khan, Mian Mumtaz Muhammad Khan Daultana, Niamatullah Khan Shinwari and Begum Nasim Jehan.
The Constitution Committee held its first meeting on April 22,1972. The Committee on the whole held 48 sittings spreading over a period of 38 days in all. It had deliberated for 170 hours to come up with the draft Constitution comprising less than 180 articles and six schedules. The average attendance throughout the sittings was 18 out of total strength of 25 members. Out of the members so appointed, Dr Mubahir Hasan, Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Malik Meraj Khalid and Mumtaz Ali Bhutto had resigned from its membership one after the other on account of their other responsibilities connected with their government offices. Ghous Bux Bizenjo also resigned from the Committee raising the number of members resigning during the final sessions of the Committee deliberations to five.
In their place, Malik Muhammad Jaffer, Ch Jahangir Ali, Ch Barakatullah, Malik Sikander Khan and Mrs Jennifer Jehanzeba Qazi Musa were appointed on the Committee which was also assisted by Special Assistant to the President M.Rafi Raza and Attorney General of Pakistan Yahya Bakhtiar. Towards finalization of the Constitution Committee deliberations quite successfully, Mian Mahmud Ali Kasuri also resigned as the Chairman though he remained associated with as a member. Was replaced by Abdul Hafeez Pairzada as the Chairman.
Draft report of the Constitution Committee was signed by Abdul Hafeez Pirzada as its Chairman other 23 members in Islamabad on December 30, 1972. Mian Mumtaz Muhammad Khan Daultana was the only member who did not sign as he was out of Pakistan. A number of members had written Notes of Dissent on different counts and these also formed part of the Committee’s draft report which was published in Gazette of Pakistan Extraordinary December 31, 1972. As a matter of fact, they had signed the report conditionally subject to the inclusion of their Notes of Dissent in the report.
Notes of Dissent were written by Sirdar Shaukat Hyat Khan, Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani Siddiqui, Professor Ghafoor Ahmad, Amirzada Khan, Maulana Mufti Mehmud,Niamatullah Khan Shinwari, Mrs Jennifer Jehanzeba Qazi Musa, Begum Nasim Jehan and Mian Mahmud Ali Kasuri. Their Notes of Dissent ran into 21 printed pages of the Gazette of Pakistan in the book. Out of the makers of the 1973 Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mian Mahmud Ali Kasuri, Maulana Mufti Mehmud, Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani Siddiqui, Maulana Kausar Niazi, Khurshid Hassan Mir, Sheikh Muhammad Rashid, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, Ghous Bux Bizenjo, Sirdar Shaukat Hyat Khan, Mian Mumtaz Muhammad Khan Daultana, Professor Ghafoor Ahmad and Abdul Hafeez Pirzada are among those who have expired during the last 45 years. The Notes of Dissent by the parliamentarians and also making of the 1973 Constitution itself make quite interesting reading and these will be presented at some other time separately. Mian Mahmud Ali Kasuri had resigned from the Committee chairmanship during its meeting on October 9, 1972. As stated above also, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada was unanimously elected as the Chairman in his place. Due to debate in the National Assembly on the Simla Agreement, the Committee could not proceed ahead according to the schedule originally agreed upon. Accordingly, the Committee had sought and granted extension by the National Assembly till December 31,1972.
In view of the impending constitutional discussions for which President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had invited the leaders of all parliamentary parties and groups, the Committee decided in its October 9,1972 meeting to defer further deliberations till the outcome of the political talks. The discussions between the parliamentary parties leaders were held from October 17 to 20, 1972 and all major constitutional issues of fundamental nature were settled. The participants had hag signed the Constitutional Accord on October 20,1972.
This little piece of’ Makers of the longest surviving Constitution ‘is in all fairness a humble credit and tribute to all the defenders of the 1973 Constitution over the years and those, irrespective of whether they are in the government or in the opposition, who are working within its framework, honouring and upholding it no matter which position they hold. Survival of 1973 Constitution means a strong, united, prosperous, forward moving and economically stable Pakistan.
—The writer is a Lahore-based freelance journalist, columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News) Radio Pakistan, Islamabad and can be reached t zahidriffat@gmail.com

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