Essay on the political development and the Constituent Assembly in Pakistan

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The Pakistan movement was mainly a movement of the Muslims of the Muslim minority provinces and it was weak in the areas which constituted the new state.

The Muslim League was in power only in Bengal and Sind. A Congress government was in office in the Northwestern Frontier Province even after one week of independence, till it was dissolved by a fiat of the Governor-General of Pakistan Mohammad Jinnah himself. Muslim migrants who came from India occupied a very large share in the power structure.

It took some time for the native political elite who had opposed the Pakistani movement to emerge on the political arena. The entire Pakistan movement had been run on slogans and no effort had been at any stage to intellectually prepare for nation building in the new country.

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Most of the statements of Jinnah on this issue were vague and confusing though it was clear that he did not cherish the idea of Pakistan being an Islamic state.

There was no consensus among the ruling elite on the principles on which the political system would be built on. While one section, mostly the Western educated, wanted Pakistan to be secular democratic state; another section, particularly those with religious orientation wanted an Islamic state.

The ruling Muslim League had lost its credibility soon after Pakistan came into being. The result of this was Pakistan could not build political institutions and develop democratic processes in the country.

Constituent Assembly

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The Constituent Assembly, which was entrusted with the job of framing a Constitution for the new country had been elected in 1946 for the undivided India.

This Constituent Assembly was also to act as the Central Legislature of Pakistan. Some of the leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League who hailed from India and did not have seats in the Assembly were later found scats from the vacancies created by the migration of Sikh and Hindu members to India.

However, the Constituent Assembly had members belonging to Hindu community who hailed from East Bengal. Some of them belonged to the Congress Party in India.

Though they were small in number, they constituted the Pakistan National Congress and put forward their point of view forcefully. However, because of pre-partition prejudices and bitterness, their loyalty was challenged and they were looked at with suspicion.

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Even the other emerging opposition parties were condemned as ‘enemies of Pakistan’. The leadership of the ML ignored the fact that in a democracy; the opposition has a role to play just as the ruling party has an assigned role. The result was that democratic institutions failed to take firm roots.

The ML leadership also ignored the Constituent Assembly. The ML discussed the issues in its forum and placed them before the Constituent Assembly for approval.

The Constituent Assembly instead of being respected as a sovereign body was converted into an appendage of the executive. The atrophy of the constitutional bodies led to a situation where these bodies were passing many unconstitutional acts of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister.

Governor- General Ghulam Mohammad dismissed the elected leader of the Constituent Assembly, Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin, and appointed Mohammad Ali Bogra without receiving the sanction of the Assembly. The tradition of subordination of the legislature to the executive was thus set in the early years of the nation.

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