Ideology, Forefathers And Constitution Of Pakistan
Our ‘Independence Day’ on 14th August every year brings with it new hope to promote unity within our nation. In the last decade or so, inception of independent private electronic media in Pakistan has multiplied our chances to express our thoughts freely. However, the freedom to express variant views in respect of the ideology of Pakistan sometimes causes confusion among the viewers, in particular, when two opposing groups of people on media hopelessly try to interpret the ideology of Pakistan in terms of personality, culture and above all the speeches delivered by our forefathers, in particular keeping Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Quaid-e-Azam) in perspective. The unity of a nation obtains support from the ideology it has and Pakistan is no exception.
Judging Jinnah by his personality and outlook, i.e. dressed in sherwani or suit, and for that matter by the speeches which he delivered on the different occasions in different capacities, can be misleading. A segment of the nation calls him Wali-Allah (the friend of God), while another quotes his speeches considering him as a torch-bearer for the people believing in secular tradition or secular value. Such discussion leads to no conclusion! Without doubt, the speeches of a leader like Jinnah are the best guidelines but not the sole manner of interpreting national consensus supported by the majority of nation.
To advance this argument, one finds, on the other hand, the ideological thinker of Pakistan, Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal, who was a supreme leader in the independence struggle of Pakistan. Ayesha Jalal in her book Self and Sovereignty remarked that Iqbal dubbed India as, “the greatest Muslim country in the world”. According to her, Iqbal thought of the centralization of the Muslim majority area in the northwest, whose military and police services were indispensable to British rule[i]. Miss Jalal also quoted Edward Thompson, a reputed author who, according to her, in his letter to London Times came close to charging Iqbal with ‘pan-Islamic plotting’. Iqbal’s own son Javed Iqbal in his book Zinda Rood described Iqbal’s wish for an independent state in the following words:
“In 19th century, Iqbal actively made efforts to establish ‘Islamic states’ in north western and eastern region of India[ii].
Besides the aforenoted quotes, the speeches of Iqbal are testimony of his unconditional support for the Muslim state.
One cannot own or disown the thoughts of Iqbal and Jinnah in one breath but one needs to understand that countries in constitutional democracies are governed in accordance with their constitutions and not by speeches delivered by their forefathers. It is also pertinent to mention that judging by thought may also hold some of the political parties and persons, who chose Pakistan as their habitat post partition, to be convicted for treason for being in opposition of the idea of Pakistan before the partition of the subcontinent. Hence thoughts, ideas and speeches by persons or parties, no matter how big, small, popular, notorious, religious or secular they were before or after partition, are not true indicators of ideology which keeps changing. The ideas and views conform to belief and personality conforms to culture, whereas speeches have conformity to time, place and audience. Therefore they have an inherent nature to vary with change in the above factors to which they conform or depend upon.
The argument above brings forth an important question that if ideology of a nation is not reflected through ideas, personality or speeches of its forefathers, then what is an exact, concrete and effective way of interpreting the ideology that would lead the nation on the way to unity.
The answer to this significant question in the words of Jinnah is as follows:
“Today we are celebrating the first anniversary of our freedom. A year ago complete power was transferred to the people of Pakistan, and the Pakistan Government, under the present Constitution as adapted, took over charge of affairs of the country in its own hands.”[iii]
The nation of Pakistan has its own Constitution and not an adapted one. The Constitution being a social contract for the society of Pakistan is supported by the will of the people of Pakistan. The Constitution is the custodian of the ideology represented by the very will exercised by the people in framing the Constitution. Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto the former Prime Minister of Pakistan was undoubtedly instrumental in the framing of the present Constitution. In one of his essay[iv] The Essentials of a Constitution published in his book Reshaping Foreign Policy, he describes the attributes of an ideal constitution in the following words:
“If a constitution seeks to leave its impress on posterity, it must comply with the following rules; it must be framed in consonance with the personality and the will of people, retaining flexibility and it must also confine itself to essential norms. While asserting his argument on flexibility within the constitution, he quotes that, “it is impossible, however, for a constitution to retain the national will and personality for long if it is rigid. People’s values are subject to incessant modifications, and it is incumbent upon a good constitution to register the changes accordingly or it cannot maintain its vigour and remain the true embodiment of community’s will. Indeed it is essential for a constitution to be a judicial mirror of changing realities, reflecting the shifts in community’s moods and power relations.”
Keeping in view the above, in my opinion ideology is a changing variable dependent on the changing mindsets of the people of any country and so is the constitution. The constitution being a social contract needs changes in the form of amendments to retain the characteristic of flexibility. Present-day examples of Turkey as well as Middle Eastern countries support this argument. Turkey has moved from the era of Ottomans to Mustafa Kamal and from the era of Mustafa Kamal to Tayyip Erdogan. Needless to add that the affiliation of the above leaders to the Islamic form of government or secular form of government is no secret. Similarly the Egyptian nation has seen a shift from the Hosni Mubarak regime to the regime of Muhammad Moorsi i.e. run by political party and supporting Islamic government. These two examples develop the idea that nations do not necessarily hold on to the ideology of their forefathers for long but in fact evolve in their approach to label their ideology with different notions in different times.
Summing up, a likely conclusion from above is that our Constitution contains the essence of Islamic order[v] (some of the Articles holding the essence of Islam are provided in endnotes). It declares Islam to be the state religion, naming the state as Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It further provides that only a Muslim can be the head of state. Lastly it contains provisions to order our lives, individually and collectively, in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam, as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Having admitted the above position, however the same Constitution provides a procedure to amend its provisions by virtue of Article 239. Article 239(6) provides flexibility to the Constitution to remain the true embodiment of community’s will. This Article provides that,
“There is no limitation on the powers of the Parliament to amend any of the provisions of the Constitution.”
The Constitution of Pakistan 1973, in my opinion is the custodian of the ideology of Pakistan and the ideology of Pakistan is not a static or dormant subject, dependent solely on the views of our forefathers. Support towards the Islamic or secular system of government opted by our state shall not be dependent upon the views, culture, language or speeches of our forefathers but shall depend upon the will of the people, exercised by them in majority in accordance with the mechanism provided by the Constitution of Pakistan.
[i] Ayesha Jalal, Self and Sovereignty, Sang-e-Meel Publishers, p.328-329
[ii] Javed Iqbal, Zinda Rood, Sang-e-Meel Publishers Chapter 17, Concept of Muslim State, P-451
[iii] S.M.Burke, Speeches and statements 1947-1948, Oxford, The Millennium Series
[iv] Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Reshaping Foreign Policy, ‘The Essentials of a constitution’, Publisher Agha Amir Hussain Pg 61
[v] Constitution of Pakistan, Articles 2, 2-A, 19, 31, 40, 41, 203, 227, 228, 229, 230, 231 etc.
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