Government and Politics in South Asia

By Craig Baxter; Yogendra K. Malik et al. | Go to book overview
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9
Government Structure

PAKISTAN'S RECORD as an independent nation-state is not a happy one. The litany of failures includes the following: the inability to compose a constitution until nine years after independence; the abrogation of that constitution and two others during the next twenty years; three wars with India, one of which was a clear defeat for Pakistan; the failure to gain Kashmir; the inability to form stable democratic institutions; the failure either to sustain economic development or to effect meaningful redistribution of wealth to the impoverished masses; the loss of a majority of the population when the state of Bangladesh was formed; the inability to silence regional and sectarian disputes; and, finally, the inability to sustain a clear concept of and direction to Pakistan's nationalism.

Constitutional government in Pakistan has been more sham than substance. Pakistan has had five constitutions in its brief history: one inherited at independence (the Government of India Act of 1935, as modified by the India Independence Act of 1947, and four indigenous creations, in 1956, 1962, 1972, and 1973). Pakistan has also been governed at times without the benefit of a written constitution ( 1958-1962, 1969-1971), under a suspended constitution ( 1977-1985), and under a "modified" though "restored" constitution ( 1985-1997). In 1997 the constitution was significantly revised once again by the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Ideally, a constitution is the framework of a government's intentions; it describes structural arrangements, allocates functional powers, and establishes limits to political authority. But constitutions, however artfully drafted, are always reflective of the state they represent. A state cannot overcome its problems solely through constitution making. Pakistan is a case in point. This chapter outlines the characteristics of Pakistan's nine constitutional phases since independence.


Phase One: 1947-1956

At partition in 1947 Pakistan was declared a free sovereign dominion to be governed until a constitution could be formulated by the Constituent

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