Salient Features of 1956 Constitution – The First Constitution of Pakistan

Salient features of the 1956 Constitution are thoroughly discussed in this article. When Pakistan came into being, it had no constitution of its own. According to the Indian Independence Act 1947, Pakistan and India would adopt the Government of India Act 1935 as their provisional constitution until they made their own constitution.

India was able to frame and promulgate its constitution in 1950 in a period of three years. In contrast to India, Pakistan managed to frame and promulgate its first constitution in a period of 9 years on 23rd March 1956.

The following are the main points of the 1956 Constitution of Pakistan: 

1. Federal System of Government

The 1956 constitution provided a federal system which meant that power would be divided between the center and provinces.  However, the center was made stronger than the provinces. The powers were classified into three categories of the Federal, Provincial, and Concurrent list.

2. Executive Head

According to the constitution, the Prime Minister would be the head of the government. He would be a member of the national assembly and also elected by the assembly to the post of Prime Minister. He would make his cabinet from the National Assembly which would be accountable to the assembly.

3. Head of the state

It was provided in the constitution that the President would be head of the state with powers to declare a state of emergency in the country and dismiss the Prime Minister and the government. The president should be a Muslim above the age of 40 for 5 years. Moreover, he was authorized to make the appointment of governors, supreme court judges, advocate General, and Auditor General. The President would be elected by Central and provincial legislatures.

4. Principle of Parity of Representation at the center

The constitution provided parity for the representation of East and West Pakistan at the center. It meant that there would be an equal number of representatives in the central assembly from both wings of the country.

5. Flexible Constitution

The constitution was flexible in nature. Amendments could be made with a two-thirds majority of the members of the National Assembly.  However, the president was authorized to veto the law which then could be nullified by a simple majority in the assembly.

6. Islamic Republic

Pakistan was proclaimed as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the 1956 constitution.

7. Preamble

The Objectives Resolution 1949 was made part of the preamble of the constitution. It means it was incorporated in the introductory part of the constitution.

8. One House Parliament

Unlike today’s Two House Parliament, it was provided in the 1956 constitution that the Parliament would be One House Parliament called National Assembly.  The National Assembly would have 300 members in total equally drawn from both wings of the country, East Pakistan and West Pakistan.

9. Free Judiciary

The constitution provided a free and independent judiciary.

10. Fundamental Rights

Fundamental rights i.e. Freedom of Movement, Freedom of religion and faith, Freedom of speech, Right to life and property, etc. were provided in the constitution.

11. Islamic Council

A council of religious scholars would be set up to see if existing laws were in accordance with Islam or not. No law repugnant to Islam and Sunnah would be passed.

You can also read about The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan – Main Features

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