This post is about the salient features of the 1973 constitution of Pakistan which stills acts as the federal constitution of Pakistan.
Pakistan disintegrated in December 1971 in the wake of the Indo-Pakistan War and the East-Pakistanis revolt. Pakistan Peoples Party which had won the second-largest number of seats in the 1970 General elections formed its government in the remaining part of the country. The Bhutto regime drafted the constitution with additional support from opposition parties. The parliament approved the constitution on April 10 and ratified it on August 14, 1973.
1. Unanimously agreed constitution
Unlike the 1962 and 1956 constitutions, the 1973 constitution was unanimously passed by the ruling and opposition parties. Member assembly opposed the constitution.
2. Federal-system of government
Pakistan would a federation of four provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Kyberpaktunkhaw (then NWFP), and Balochistan.
3. Parliamentary form of government
The 1973 Constitution provides a parliamentary form of government in Pakistan.
4. Two House Parliament/Bicameral Legislature
1973 Constitution provided a Two-House Parliament consisting of the lower house and upper house.
A. Lower House
The Lower House would be called National Assembly and the Upper House, the Senate. The National Assembly would be directly elected by the people. The National Assembly has two important functions, the formation of the government and legislation.
B. Upper House
The upper house would be called the senate. The representation in the Senate would be based on parity which means an equal number of senators would be elected by all four provincial assemblies in the country. The prime responsibility of the Senate is to review the acts made by the National Assembly.
5. Head of the Executive and state
As part of the parliamentary form of government, the constitution provided that there would be two separate posts of prime minister and the president.
A. Prime Minister
Prime Minister would be the head of the executive. He will be elected from among the members of the National Assembly by the members of the national assembly. As head of the executive, he would have the authority to choose his cabinet from among the members of the national assembly.
B. Head of the state
The president would be the head of the state. He will be elected by the national assembly. He should be above 40 years of age and a Muslim. His position is symbolic. He could perform many functions at the advice of the prime minister e.g. appointment of judges to Supreme Court of Pakistan and High Courts, Vice Chancellors for Public sector universities, etc.
6. Flexible Consitution
According to this constitution, the two-thirds majority in the national assembly can amend or introduce a new law in the constitution.
7. High treason
The 1973 constitution provided capital punishments for committing the act of subverting and abrogating the constitution of the country. According to article 6 of the constitution, such an act would be an act of high treason subjected to the death penalty or life imprisonment.
8. Provision of fundamental rights
Fundamental rights such as the right to vote, the security of life and property, right to profess religion, right to a fair trial, right not to be punished for the same crime again, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and association, right to choose the profession of one’s own choice, freedom of speech, right to information, Free education and health care facilities for all children, right to preserve one’s own culture, etc.
Islamic Provisions of the constitution
The following are the Islamic provisions that were provided in the 1972 constitution:
A. Objectives Resolution
Like that of the 1956 Constitution and the 1962 Constitution, Objectives Resolution is part of the preamble of the constitution.
B. The Islamic Republic Of Pakistan
According to the Constitution, Pakistan was named as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This feature was common to the previous two constitutions also.
C. Definition of a Muslim
The 1973 Constitution provided the definition of a Muslim. According to the constitution, a person would be Muslim if he believes in the oneness of Allaha, in Quran as the last holy book, in the Day of judgment, and in Muhammad (PBUH) as the last prophet.
D. Islam as the state religion
Unlike the previous constitutions, The 1973 Constitution provided that Islam would be the state religion.
E. Council of Islamic Ideology
The constitution provided for the setting up of a Council of Islamic Ideology which will give its advice whether the existing or any new law made by the parliament is in accord with Islam or not.