07 Mar

Causes For Delay In The Constitution Making :

Background :

British partitioned India into two independent states Pakistan and India on 14-15 august 1947 in light of the Indian Independence Act 1947. The act provided the new states would adopt the government of India Act 1935 until they framed their own. 

India promulgated its constitution within 3 years of its independence in 1950. On the contrary it took nine long years for Pakistan to adopt and enforce its constitution.

The factors responsible for the delay in the constitution-making are as follows;

Immediate problems:

With its inception, Pakistan had to face more pressing issues that required immediate redressal . The immediate problems included an influx of refugees, canal water dispute, Kashmir war, India's denial in giving Pakistan's share of military and financial assets etc.

a) Refugee problem :

With partition million of refugees flooded into Pakistan to escape the ruthless persecutions and massacre in different parts of India. Their accommodation, shelter, clothing, food and medication had to be ensured before long-term measures were taken for their permanent settlement.

b) Canal water dispute :

On April 1, 1948, India blocked river water from Kashmir through Indian territory. The act of India put the very survival of Pakistan in danger as it would damage the agriculture of Pakistan.

Issues other than immediate problems

Death of Quaid-e-Azam :

 The death of Quaid-e-Azam was one of the reason of the delay in the constitution making. Quaid e Azam had given an outline for the country's future constitution while addressing the first constitution assembly of Pakistan on August 11,1947. But he died on september 11,1948, before he could give a constitution to his people. If he had lived longer he would have resolved the constitution dilemma by using his leadership and non-controversial status.

Disagreement over parity of representation :

The first move towards the constitution making of Pakistan was the passage of the Objective Resolution by the Constituent Assembly on 12 March,1949. After it passed the resolution, the assembly delegates the task of drawing basic principles committee, in light of the set objectives for future constitution-making.

The Basic Principles Committee presented it's first report on September 28,1950, which recommended parity of representation in the central Assembly. The proposal of this principle of parity at the centre created controversary as the assembly members from East Pakistan opposed it. They were of the view that their representation should be more as they were a majority ( 56% of the total population) in the new state.

In contrast to what East Pakistan representatives felt, the West Pakistani politicians did not want a dominant East Pakistan in the central assembly. Consequently, no agreement was reached and the constitution-making process was delayed.

India's denial to give Pakistan's share of financial and military assets:

When Pakistan came in to being, it had a crippled economy and vulnerable security. To make things even worse, India did not give an agreed share of Pakistan's military and financial assets. These and similar other immediate problems left little time and energy to work on framing a new constitution for Pakistan.

Language issue :

Another proposal the Basic Principles Committee had incorporated in it's report was to declare URDU the national language of Pakistan. Urdu as a national language was also opposed by East Pakistani members of the Assembly. They demanded to make Bengali the national language since it was the language of the majority of people. Thus, language controversy along with the issue  of representation at the centre caused a type of deadlock in the constitution making  of Pakistan.

Political rivalry and corruption :

After the sad demise of the Quaid e Azam, Muslim league fell victim to intrigue and disunity. Intense internal strife and selfishness brought about disintegration in the party. Party fell into the hands of opportunists, who resorted to undemocratic ways and means; indulging in political mischief and intrigue.

Consequently, little attention was paid to constitution making of Pakistan.

Increasing influence of west Pakistan dominated Bureaucracy and military:

 With the death of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, bureaucrats made in roads to power corridors. A bureaucrat; Ghulam Muhammad was made the Governor-General who did not hesitate to dismiss elected prime minister, the constituent assembly thus also paving the path for retired and in-service military Personnel in the politics. He made Sikandar Mirza, a retired general as Governor-General, appoint Ayub khan, the commandant  in chief of the armed forces as Defense minister.

West Pakistani politicians, bureaucrats, and generals did not want to give East Pakistan their due political and democratic rights. Hence, any proposals made concerning the constitution seemed to go against the wishes and expectations of East Pakistan creating a tussle in the constituent assembly.

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