This declaration is being signed by all Political Parties of Pakistan on this day; as under: -
That we will abide by the 1973 constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
For the will of the people to prevail we will ensure free and fair elections as laid down in the constitution.
We will strengthen the parliament as the principal seat of people’s power.
There will be no back door entries into power, results of credible elections will be accepted and in case of disputes we will assist the tribunals in timely resolution of complaints.
We will not support any supra constitutional acts.
Pakistan will remain a constitutional democracy and all amendments will be done by following the due process.
Nation building will be our top priority and we will avoid conflict of interest at all costs.
We will strengthen national institutions and allow them to function in best national interest.
Welfare of the people will be the paramount business of state.
We will ensure smooth transition of power after a credible ballot.
While constitution making has been an uphill task in Pakistan, its bashing has been the norm. Perhaps it is the only country in the world that went through this exercise four times (1956, 1962, 1972, 1973). The 1973 version has weathered several storms and remains the beacon of democracy and hope. Except for a few Zia amendments it has been largely cleansed of dictatorial onslaughts. Originally the devolution of power from the federal to the provincial level was to be completed in ten years, instead it was accomplished in thirty years. Now the challenge is to devolve it all the way to the Union Council (UC) level for maximum people’s participation.
The pro-people clauses if implemented will convert Pakistan into a Islamic Welfare State as envisioned by the founders of ‘Riasat-e-Madina’,. The 1970 free and fair election brought people back to the corridors of power, since then they have refused to accept any supra constitutional acts of dictators and their tail coats. Unfortunately the sacred document has not been able to ensure a credible ballot. Since 1977 there have been ten manipulated elections each one of them pushing the democratic order in the reverse direction. There are several reasons for these electoral debacles which have to be revisited. After the promulgation of the 1973 constitution the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has been headed by Judges not Administrators, who lack the administrative skills of conducting an exercise of this magnitude.
It is an irony of fate that Pakistan Muslim League headed by Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (PML-N) the brainchild of Zia-ul-Haq is now promoting people’s power. The deposed, cornered and then murdered Quaid-e-Awam has now became their hero. The 1973 constitution has saved both the federation and the democratic order, its bashers have now come to its defense. The sanctity of the sacred document has been restored to a great extent.
Ballot drives democracy, its credibility is the prime responsibility of the political players in the arena. There can be no back door entry into power, even PML-N has realized this fact that is why they are harping on “peoples’ mandate” which they defied in their own pursuit for power.
By signing the Charter of Democracy (COD), Benazir Bhutto tried to strengthen her struggle but unfortunately both the parties (PML-N, PPP) have not lived by that agreement. A much broader and binding declaration is required for the democratic order to be strengthened. The above ten clauses of the ‘Declaration of Democracy’ (DOC) is the starting point for all the players who wish to remain in the democratic struggle. In other words DOD will be the ‘Rules of the Game’ to be decided by a credible ballot every four to five years as needed.
The 1970 free and fair election on one hand resulted in the dismemberment of Quaid’s Pakistan while on the other it ushered in an era of real democracy. The unanimously agreed 1973 constitution is the everlasting gift of the truly elected house which carried the legitimate mandate of the people. The trouble started when Bhutto Sahib decided to dissolve the assemblies in 1977 ahead of their time for a fresh mandate. The opposition supported by the forces of status-quo were waiting in the wings to strike back. Since then it has been downhill for democracy. Another credible ballot in 2018 can put the democratic order back on track. Like the declaration of independence by the American colonies in the eighteenth century (July 4, 1776) created the United States, such a document in the twenty first century in Pakistan may prove to be the last straw to break the back of status-quo’s Camel. The ship of the desert may then finally return to where it belongs, to the corridors of civilian authority exercised freely by the people through their vote and elected representatives. Long live Pakistan, its constitution and its citizens.
The writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.