Rawalpindi/Islamabad, JUN 1 /DNA/ — The Constitution of Pakistan has not only been the embodiment of national consensus since its inception, but has also served as a binding factor in times of political instability and turmoil. The vision, comprehensiveness and checks and balances provided for in the Constitution enabled him to lead the nation through military rules and political challenges.
These observations were made by speakers at a seminar entitled “75 Years of Pakistan: Constitution, Public Representation and System of Governance”, organized by the Institute of Political Studies, Islamabad in collaboration with the Department of the Fatima Jinnah Women’s University (FJWU) at the latter’s campus in Rawalpindi.
The seminar was co-chaired by Khalid Rahman, President of IPS, and Professor Dr. Azra Yasmin, Dean of the FJWU Faculty of Law, Business Management and Administrative Sciences and moderated by Dr. Nadia Khadam, Assistant Professor/ Head, Department of Law.
Speakers included Dr. Ijaz Shafi Gillani, President of Gallup Pakistan and Gillani Research Foundation Pakistan, Dr. Aziz Ur Rahman, Head of Law School, Quaid-i-Azam University, and Dr. Shahzad Iqbal Sham , senior researcher at IPS and author of the recently published book ‘Aa’een-e-Pakistan 1973 aur Islam: Martial Law, Adaliya aur Parliman ka Kirdar’.
Another recently published work based on Senate speeches and scholarly writings of IPS founder Prof. Khurshid Ahmad, “Aa’een – Ikhtiyarat ka Tawazun aur Tarz-e-Hukmrani” was also screened on the occasion. and was presented to the public by the IPS. President.
The speakers observed that Pakistan is constantly moving forward to ensure the supremacy of the Constitution and that the crises that sometimes hinder the smooth march of this path are temporary obstacles faced by all nations of the world at one time or another. This should not be a matter of apprehension, however, introspection is essential in order to determine where the nation went wrong and a system must be put in place to respond to the problem appropriately. It was suggested that part of this initiative could take the form of a center for the study of constitutional issues which would help generate expert advice and respond to the need for impartial debate and research on the Constitution.
Pakistan is approaching the milestone of 75 years of its existence. The common thread of these years regarding the Constitution, public representation and the system of governance is a constant struggle, from the creation of Pakistan to the drafting of the Constitution. The 1973 Constitution has undergone various modifications in the form of amendments which have, in fact, improved its object.
Speakers said Parliament has upheld and restored the original spirit of the Constitution with another act of national consensus through the 18th Constitutional Amendment and continues to underscore it through significant amendments. Most of the unpopular changes made to the Constitution by military regimes have been removed. The role of the superior judiciary, however, must be carefully calibrated as it has obviously extended its reach beyond its desired accountability through its powers of interpretation of supreme law. A debate on constitutionalism is key to reviewing the role of the judiciary, they added.
They were of the view that political instability was at the root of all the problems facing the country. The country can progress unhindered if stability is brought in this area. In this regard, they suggested striking a balance between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The Constitution has been suspended and amended several times, but faces no threat as long as confidence is placed in Parliament to fulfill its role.
The concept of Riasat-e-Madinah was part of recent political debate, although the sincerity of the motivations behind this deliberation is a moot point. However, it can be a point of reference for detailed guidance of the country’s governance system, they said.
Martial laws were imposed on the country several times, however, all initiators had to seek some form of public representation after a few years. Ayub Khan had to resort to local democracy, Zia-ul-Haq had to hold a referendum to give the impression that he was a representative of the people, even Pervez Musharraf had to resort to local body elections and a referendum.