Parliamentary History Of Pakistan


Parliamentary History Of Pakistan

The Muslims of India had, since the middle of nineteen century, begun the struggle for a separate homeland on the basis of the two Nation theory. The British rulers realized that the Hindus and Muslims of India remained two separate and distinct nations and socio-cultural entities. The British rulers were left with no option but to eventually accept the demand of the Muslims of India.

On 3rd June1947, Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, called the conference of all the leaders of the Sub-continent and communicated to them his Government's Plan for the transfer of power. At that time, a notification was issued in the Gazette of India, published on 26th July 1947 in which the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was given shape with 69 Members (later on the membership was increased to 79), including one female Member.

The State of Pakistan was created under the Independence Act of 1947. The Act made the existing Constituent Assemblies, the dominion legislatures. These Assemblies were allowed to exercise all the powers, which were formerly exercised by the Central Legislature, in addition to the powers regarding the framing of a new Constitution, prior to which all territories were to be governed in accordance with the Government of India Act, 1935.

The first session of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was held on 10th August 1947 at Sindh Assembly Building Karachi. On 11th August 1947 Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was elected unanimously as the President of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and the Assembly formally approved the National Flag.

On 12th August 1947, a resolution was approved regarding officially addressing Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah as "Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah". On the same day, a special committee called the "Committee on Fundamental Rights of Citizens and Minorities of Pakistan" was appointed to look into and advise the Assembly on matters relating to fundamental rights of the citizens, particularly the minorities, with the aim to legislate on these issues appropriately. On 14th August 1947, the Transfer of Power took place. Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India, addressed the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. The Quaid gave a reply to the address in the House, on which the principles of the State of Pakistan were laid. On 15th August 1947, Quaid-i-Azam was sworn in as the first Governor General of Pakistan. Mian Sir Abdur Rashid, Chief Justice of Pakistan, administered oath of office from him. The Quaid remained in this position till his death i.e.11th September 1948.

The foremost task before the first Constituent Assembly is of framing the Constitution for the nation. On 7th March 1949, the Objectives Resolution, which now serves as the grund norm of Pakistan, was introduced by the first Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, and later adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 12th March 1949. On the same day, a Basic Principles Committee comprising of 24 Members was formed to prepare a draft Constitution on the basis of the Objectives Resolution. On 16th October 1951, Prime Minister Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, mover of the Objective Resolution, was assassinated and Khawaja Nazimuddin took over as the Prime Minister on 17th October 1951.

The final draft of the Constitution was prepared in 1954. By that time, Muhammad Ali Bogra had taken over as the Prime Minister. However, just before the draft could be placed in the House for approval, the Assembly was dissolved by the then Governor General Ghulam Muhammad on 24th October1954. The Prime Minister was, however, not dismissed and was asked to run the administration, with a reconstituted Cabinet, until such time as the elections were held.

Maulvi Tamizuddin, President of the Assembly, challenged the dissolution in the
Sindh Chief Court
, and won the case. The Government in return, went to the Federal Court, where the famous judgment was given by the then Chief Justice Muhammad Munir, according to which Maulvi Tamizuddin lost the case.

The second Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was created on 28th May 1955 under Governor General's Order No.12 of 1955. The Electoral College for this Assembly was the Provincial Assemblies of respective Provinces. The strength of this Assembly was 80 Members, half each from East Pakistan and West Pakistan. One of the major decisions taken by this Assembly was the establishment of West Pakistan (One Unit), with the aim to create parity between the two wings (East and West Pakistan). This Assembly also achieved its target by giving the first Constitution to the nation i.e. the Constitution of Pakistan 1956. Choudhary Muhammad Ali was the Prime Minister at that time. The draft of this Constitution was introduced in the Assembly on 9th January 1956 and was passed by the Assembly on 29th February 1956. The assent was given on it by the Governor General on 2nd March 1956. This Constitution was enforced with effect from 23rd March 1956. Under this Constitution, Pakistan became an Islamic Republic, hence 23rd March became our Republic day. It was the same day in 1940 that the historic Pakistan Resolution was adopted at Minto Park, Lahore.

On 5th March 1956, Major General Sikandar Mirza became the first elected President of Pakistan. The 1956 constitution provides for Parliamentary form of government with all the executive powers in the hands of Prime Minister. President was Head of the State and was to be elected by all Members of the National and Provincial Assemblies. He was to hold office for 5 years. The President was to act on the advice of Prime Minister, except where he was empowered to act in his discretion.

Under 1956 Constitution, Parliament was unicameral. Legislative powers vested in the Parliament, which consisted of the President and the National Assembly comprising 300 Members divided equally between East and West Pakistan. In addition to these 300 seats, five seats were reserved for women for each of the two wings, for a period of ten years: thus bringing the total membership of the House to 310.

However, in the absence of any law to control the Political Parties and the problem of floor crossing, political instability perpetually ensued. Although the first general election were scheduled for early 1959, President Sikandar Mirza abrogated the Constitution, dissolved the National and Provincial Assemblies, and declared Martial Law, on 7th October 1958. He appointed General Muhammad Ayub Khan, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, as the Chief Martial Law Administrator.

On 27th October 1958 General Muhammad Ayub Khan took-over as a second President of Pakistan. One of the first major steps taken by General Ayub Khan was the appointment of a Constitution Commission on 17th February 1960. The objective of this commission was to submit proposals, as to how best democracy can be strengthened and molded according to the country’s socio-political environment and Islamic principles of justice. The Commission submitted its report to the government on 29th April 1961. On the basis of this report a new Constitution was framed and given to the nation on 1st March 1962.

General elections under the new Constitution were held on 28th March 1962 and elections to the special seats reserved for women were held on 29th May 1962. The first session of the third National Assembly was held on 8th June 1962 at Ayub Hall, Rawalpindi.

The Constitution of 1962 envisaged a Federal State with Presidential form of government, with National Assembly at the centre and the Provincial Assemblies in the Provinces. The Legislatures, both at centre and in provinces were unicameral. The Federal system had been curtailed by allowing the Provincial Governors to be appointed directly by the President. All executive authority of the Republic of Pakistan, under the Constitution, vested in the office of the President. President appointed his Cabinet members who were directly responsible to him.

The electoral system was made indirect, and the `Basic Democrats', for both wings were declared Electoral College for the purpose of electing the Assemblies and the President. Basic democrats were 80,000 in number (40,000 from each East & West Pakistan). The total membership of the National Assembly was 156, one half of whom were to be elected from East Pakistan and other half from West Pakistan, also three seats were reserved for women from each province. The term of this Assembly was three years. The norm was established that if the President was from West Pakistan, the Speaker was to be from East Pakistan and vice versa. One of the major achievements of this Assembly was the passage of Political Parities Act, 1962.

On 25th March 1969 the second Martial law was imposed and General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan took-over as the President of Pakistan and Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA). He later issued a Legal Framework Order (LFO), under which the first ever general elections were held on 7th December 1970. This was the first Assembly elected on the adult franchise and population basis. It consist of 313 members, 169 from East Pakistan and 144 from West Pakistan including 13 reserved seats for women (6 were from West Pakistan and 7 from East Pakistan). Soon after the elections, due to grave political differences, the Province of East Pakistan seceded from West Pakistan and became Bangladesh. On 20th December 1971 Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took over as the President of Pakistan as well as the first civil Chief Martial Law Administrator.

The first session of the National Assembly, due to the delay caused by the separation of East Pakistan, was held on 14thApril 1972 at the State Bank Building, Islamabad, in which all 144 Members from West Pakistan and two from former East Pakistan (Mr. Noor-ul-Amin and Raja Tridev Roy who had chosen to join Pakistan) participated. On 17th April 1972 an Interim Constitution was adopted by the National Assembly, which provided for a Presidential form of Government. Under this Constitution, the National Assembly was not to be dissolved earlier than 14th August 1973. The Interim Constitution dealt in detail with the distribution of powers between the Centre and the Provinces.

The Assembly also formed a Constitution Committee on 17th April 1972 to prepare the first draft for framing a Constitution. The report of the Committee was presented with a draft Constitution on 31st December 1972. It was unanimously passed by the Assembly in its session on 10th April 1973 and was authenticated by the President on 12th April 1973. This Constitution, called the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, was promulgated on 14th August 1973. On the same day, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took oath as the Prime Minister, while Mr. Fazal Illahi Choudhary took oath as the President of Pakistan.

The 1973 Constitution provides for a parliamentary form of government where the executive authority of the state vests with the Prime Minister. The President, according to the Constitution, is at the apex, representing the unity of the Republic.

From 1947 to 1973, the country had a unicameral system of legislature. Under the 1973 Constitution, Pakistan adopted bicameral system at the centre, called “The Parliament”, composing the President, the National Assembly and The Senate. Originally, the general seats of the National Assembly were 200 with additional 10 seats reserved for women, bringing the total strength to 210. The newly created Upper House i.e. the Senate had 63 members. Later in 1985 through a Presidential Order (P.O. No. 14 of 1985), seven seats were added to the general seats and ten to the reserved seats for women in the National Assembly. Ten seats were exclusively reserved for minorities to be filled through separate electorate system. Thus the total strength of the lower house reached to 237 members. Similarly the strength of Senate was also increased from 63 to 87.

Under the 1973 Constitution the National Assembly is elected for five years term, unless sooner dissolved. The seats in National Assembly, unlike the Senate, are allocated to each province and other units of the federation, on the basis of population. The Constitutional provision of 20 special seats for women lapsed in 1990, thus decreased the Assembly strength from 237 to 217. Under the Constitution, elections to the 10 seats reserved for minority were held on separate electorate basis.

Despite the tenure of the Assembly being five years, as prescribed in the Constitution, Mr. Z.A.Bhutto, on 7th January 1977 announced the holding of elections before time. Consequently, on 10th January 1977, he advised the President to dissolve the National Assembly. Elections were held on 7th March 1977. The opposition charged the government with rigging the elections to the National Assembly and thereafter boycotted the Provincial Assemblies elections. Since the opposition had not accepted the National Assembly elections result, they did not take oath. This resulted in severe political crisis and Martial Law was imposed by the then Army Chief, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, on 5th July 1977.

On 24th December 1981, under Presidential Order (P.O.15 of 1981) a Federal Council (Majlis-e-Shoora) was constituted by the President. The President nominated its members. The first session of this Council was held on 11th January 1982. In this way, limited and controlled political activities were resumed, as a result of which general elections were later held for the National and Provincial Assemblies on 25th February 1985, on non-party basis.

On 2nd March 1985, the revival of Constitution Order (P.O.14 of 1985) was issued in which a large number of amendments were made in the Constitution. The first session of the National Assembly was held 20th March 1985. Mr. Muhammad Khan Junejo, was nominated as the Prime Minister of Pakistan by the President (General Zia-ul-Haq). He received vote of confidence on 24th March 1985.

In November 1985, the 8th Constitutional Amendment was adopted by the Parliament. Besides changes in other Articles in the Constitution the significant Article 58(2)(b) was added, according to which the President acquired discretionary powers to dissolve the National Assembly. On 29th May 1988 the President dissolved the Assembly by using the power acquired under Article 58(2)(b).

The General elections for the eighth National Assembly was held on 16th November 1988. The President convened the first session on 30th November 1988. Mr. Miraj Khalid was elected as a Speaker National Assembly on 3rd December 1988. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was nominated as Prime Minister of Pakistan and took the oath of the Office on 2nd December 1988. The President, Ghulam Ishaq Khan under Article 58(2) (b) on 6th August 1990, dissolved the Assembly.

The General elections for the ninth National Assembly was held on 24th October 1990. The first session was held on 3rd November 1990. Mr. Gohar Ayub Khan elected as Speaker National Assembly and he took oath on 4th November 1990. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took oath as Prime Minister of Pakistan on 11th November 1993. The Assembly was dissolved by the then President, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, under Article 58(2)(b) on 18th April 1993. The dissolution of the National Assembly was challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and after hearing the case the Assembly was restored by the apex court on 26th May 1993. The Assembly was dissolved on the advice of the Prime Minister on 18th July 1993.

The elections for tenth National Assembly was held on 6th October 1993. The first session was held on 15th October 1993. Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani took oath of the office of the Speaker National Assembly on 17th October 1993. Mohtarma Benizar Bhutto administered the oath as Prime Minister of Pakistan on October 19th October 1993. The President Farooq Ahmad Khan Laghari dissolved the Assembly on 5th November 1996.

The elections for eleventh National Assembly was held on 3rd February 1997. The first session was held on 15th February 1997. Mr. Illahi Bukhsh Soomro took oath of the office of the Speaker National Assembly on 16th February 1997. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took oath as Prime Minister of Pakistan and Leader of the House on 17th February 1997. The new Assembly came into power with an overwhelming majority. The Article 58(2)(b) was later on omitted from the Constitution vide 13th Amendment in the Constitution in April 1997.

It may be pertinent to note at this point that while, ostensibly, sixteen amendments have been made in the Constitution so far, the ninth and the eleventh Constitutional Amendments were, however, passed by the Senate alone and fifteenth by the National Assembly alone, hence these amendments lapsed. The fourteenth Amendment in the Constitution empowered a check on floor crossing of legislators.

Chief of Army Staff General Pervaz Musharraf, who was also Chairman Joint Staff Committee, took over the government from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and declared himself as Chief Executive through a Proclamation of Emergency, on 12th October 1999. Through Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) issued on October 14th 1999, he held the Constitution in abeyance, suspended the Senate, National and Provincial Assemblies, Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate, Speaker, Deputy Speaker National and Provincial Assemblies and dismissed the Federal and Provincial governments. The President Mr. Muhammad Rafiq Tarar was, however allowed to continue in his office. Under PCO (order No. 6) 29th October 1999, (as amended by C.E. Order No.5, 4th July 2001), the National Security Council was established for the purpose to tender advice to the Chief Executive (later on President), on matters relating to Islamic ideology, national security, sovereignty, integrity and solidarity of Pakistan so as to achieve the aims and objective as enshrined in the Objectives Resolution 1949.

Syed Zafar Ali Shah, MNA and Illahi Bukhsh Soomro, Speaker National Assembly, challenged the suspension orders in the Supreme Court. The Court in its judgment on 12th May 2000 validated the military takeover by giving three years time frame to the government, starting from 12th October 1999. The Court in its judgment asked the government to complete its agenda and then hand over powers to the elected government. The court also allowed the military government to bring necessary Constitutional Amendments, provided that those should not change the basic feature of Federal Parliamentary democracy, independence of judiciary and Islamic provisions in the Constitution. The court reserved the right of Judicial Review and power of validity of any act or any action of the government, if challenged, in the light of State necessity.

On 20th June 2001, through a notification (C.E. Order No.1) the Chief Executive assumed the office of the President of Pakistan under President's Succession Order, 2001. On the same day, through another Order (C.E. Order No. 2, 2001), the President converted the orders of suspension of legislative bodies and their presiding officers, in to dissolution.


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