Athar Osama July 9th, 2007
…The Bureaucratic Musical Chairs
With the Constitution now in effect, there was logically an expectation that it would lead to an end to the constant reshuffling of governments and political leaders over the last few years and bring political stability to Pakistan. Before going into whether or not that ultimately happened, lets look briefly look at some aspects of the constitution that are worth emphasizing here.
The Constitution of 1956
The Constitution of 1956 was a lengthy document—containing over 234 Articles in 13 parts and 6 schedules. By contrast, the American Constitution has a 3-line preamble, 7 articles, and 27 amendments over the last 200 years of existence. The Indian Constitution, on the other hand, has 395 articles and 12 schedules (Wikipedia, 2007). Clearly, in Pakistani Constitution of 1956, but also later ones, the framers adopted an approach, somewhat analogous to India’s, that explicitly stated many of the things that are generally left to convention in most well-developed constitutions of the world. Hamid Khan identifies several reasons for the length of the constitution including, but not limited to, complicated relationship between the federation and the provinces, special provisions for tribal areas and the Islamic character of the Constitution, emergency provisions, bill of rights, issues of state languages, election commission, and directive principles of state policy etc. (Khan, 2001, p. 102).
There is nothing inherently right or right, perhaps, about explicitly stating in quite a lot of minutiae the various structures that comprise the state and their inter-relationships with each other provided there is consistency between them and that the Constitution is then properly and fully implemented. Pakistan’s First Constitution and the later experienced presented serious problems in both these counts.
The first set of problems arose in the distribution of power between the President and the Prime Minister. The 1956 Constitution was developed and delivered during the Governor-Generalship of Iskander Mirza and the Prime Ministership of Chaudhri Mohammad Ali. While the latter was an able person—and perhaps a man of good integrity (more on this later)—the former’s strong control over power and desire to maintain that was no match to the latter’s independence and/or desire to create a well-designed (from a structural standpoint) Constitution.