Objectives Resolution 1949 is called the Magna Carta of Pakistan in connection to the constitution-making process. In this article, I will discuss the background, main features, importance, and criticism of Objectives Resolution 1949.
Pakistan came into being as an independent country on 14 August 1947 as a result of the partition of India. When Pakistan came into being it had no constitution of its own. The Government of India Act 1935 was adopted as an interim constitution until the framing of the new constitution of the country. The first step taken in framing the new constitution was the passage of Objectives Resolution on 12th March 1949 by the first constituent assembly of Pakistan. As the name suggests the resolution contained basic aims and objectives on which the future constitution of Pakistan would be based.
Main features of objectives Resolution
- The constitution should provide a representative form of government in which the rulers will exercise their powers in line with the Islamic concept of Sovereignty of Allah.
- Islamic laws and guiding principles of life i.e. equality, brotherhood, social justice would be enforced in the country.
- Rights of minorities as enunciated by Islam i.e. freedom to profess and practice faith and promote their culture would be ensured.
- The constitution should provide for such actions and steps which would enable Muslims to order their personal and collective life in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
- All fundamental rights should be provided in the law.
- A free and independent judiciary should be guaranteed in the constitution.
Importance of Objectives Resolution
Objectives Resolution 1949 has huge importance in the constitutional development of Pakistan. It had been more than two years after independence without its own framed constitution. A general perception had started to prevail whether a constitution would be framed in the near future. But the passage of Objectives Resolution 1949 gave people hope that a constituent assembly would frame a new constitution very soon.
Objectives Resolution acted as a framework and roadmap for future constitutions. Constitutions of 1956 and 1962 were based on this resolution. It was made the preamble of both constitutions. Pakistan’s current constitution (1973 constitution) was also framed in light of Objectives Resolution 1949.
The resolution provided for the introduction of Islamic laws and a prominent place for religion in the law of the land. Moreover, the resolution provided a balance by suggesting the incorporation of Islamic laws and universal democratic rights. This projected Pakistan as a moderate Islamic state which respects and implements the fundamental rights provided in the International Human Rights Charter.
Criticism in the constituent assembly
Objectives Resolution was presented in the constituent assembly by Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan. It was passed by the majority of the members but minority and liberal members of the assembly opposed the resolution terming it an act against the vision of Quaid-E-Azam. They warned of the potential increase in religious extremism and violation of rights of minorities if religion was dragged into politics.
Muslim members with the orthodox approach also criticized the resolution by terming it insufficient to introduce Islamic laws in the state. They demanded the imposition of sharia in Pakistan. According to them, Pakistan was created to implement Islam in its letter and spirit and nothing less than sharia was acceptable to them.