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Thursday, May 16, 2024

Golden Jubilee of the 1973 Constitution

The 1973 Constitution provides basic rights to all citizens without discrimination, including minorities, safeguarding their religious freedom. It also protects freedom of expression, which is more comprehensive than in many Western countries.

The nation is rejoicing as we celebrate the golden jubilee of the 1973 Constitution, pledging to continue honoring, respecting, safeguarding, and implementing all its provisions sincerely, faithfully, objectively, and honestly. This historic document was passed unanimously by the National Assembly of Pakistan on April 10, 1973, authenticated by the President of the Assembly on April 12, 1973, and ratified on August 14, 1973, becoming the current Constitution of Pakistan, commonly known as the 1973 Constitution.

The Constitution was drafted with great care, debated extensively, and widely consulted with all political and religious parties, ensuring that all voices were heard. This inclusive process resulted in a comprehensive document that covers almost all aspects of governance. The 1973 Constitution is owned by the masses, and the 220 million people of Pakistan stand firmly behind it.

The Constitution embodies the basic spirit of democracy and Islamic values, and its principles were eloquently expressed by the Father of the Nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his radio address to the people of Pakistan in February 1948. He envisioned a democratic constitution that embodied the essential principles of Islam, promoting equality, justice, and fair play for all.

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Pakistan’s journey to this Constitution was not without its struggles

At the time of independence from British rule in 1947, Pakistan adopted the 1935 Government of India Act as an interim constitution. Pakistan’s first constitution was enacted by the Constituent Assembly in 1956, and a new constitution was promulgated in 1962. The nation learned from its past experiences and matured, leading to the framing of the 1973 Constitution, which gained popularity and ownership by the people of Pakistan.

The 1973 Constitution provides basic rights to all citizens without discrimination, including minorities, safeguarding their religious freedom. It also protects freedom of expression, which is more comprehensive than in many Western countries. However, it restricts hate speech and hurts others, unlike the Western world’s Islamophobia.

The Constitution of 1973 provides for the establishment of a bicameral legislature in Pakistan. Pakistani Parliament consists of two houses, namely, National Assembly, the lower house, and the Senate, the upper house.

The Constitution has strengthened all the important pillars of the state and governance, with the National Assembly as supreme and the Judiciary functioning independently and effectively. The Judiciary has become more prominent and strong, especially after the popular movement of the judiciary in favor of Chief Justice of Pakistan Chaudhry Iftekhar in 2007. It is one of the strongest Judiciary in the world, with the courage to send even sitting prime ministers, such as Yusuf Reza Gilani and Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, home in 2012 and 2017, respectively. The people of Pakistan are proud of their free and fair judiciary and fully support it.

The Constitution is open and flexible and can be amended by the National Assembly with a two-thirds majority. Since 1974, amendments have been made, with the latest in 2018, known as the 25th amendment, resulting in the emergence of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) into KPK.

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1973 Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to the citizens of Pakistan

Some of these areas are: Equality of all citizens before the law, Security of persons and of their properties and other belongings, Right to acquire, hold or dispose of the property in any part of Pakistan, Freedom of speech, Freedom of expression, Freedom of association, Religious Freedom, Right to adopt any lawful profession.

No individual, political party, religious party, organization, or institution is above the law. The Judiciary is there to rectify any violations and provide relief to victims. Although Pakistan is full of diversity, political, religious, and ethnic divides are visible, yet the nation is united under one Constitution, and the federation is strictly bound.

The Constitution of 1973 also names the country the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Islam is the State Religion, where sovereignty belongs to Allah Almighty. Only Muslims could become the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Let us celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Constitution with our heads held high and with pride and joy, knowing that we have a robust and inclusive Constitution that has stood the test of time.


Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).   

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.