A constitution is not a static document. It is like an organism, which grows, evolves and adjusts itself with emerging imperatives of a politically organised society i.e. state. In the process if some of its provisions are modified, deleted or new provisions are added through amendments in accordance with the method laid down in the constitution, there is nothing wrong with it. In our immediate neighbourhood, the Indian constitution has been amended about hundred times in response to the needs of the Indian state. In case of Pakistan, however, the process has become full of political complexities. Most of the changes/amendments in the constitution were introduced by unelected military rulers to run the affairs of the state in accordance with their own worldview. The injection of this factor into our polity, which was totally alien to the constitution, stifled the natural process of evolution through which the basic law of the land could have accommodated the demands and interests as articulated by the political parties from time to time. These demands on our political system accumulated over a period of more than three decades have now found sudden and explosive expression with the onset of a democratic dispensation. It is in this context that the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms formed last month has taken up the task of recommending reforms in the Constitution of Pakistan in response to the demands from various political forces of the country. The committee is, however, faced with dual task. On the one hand, it has to recommend the removal of changes made during the reign of former President Pervez Musharraf, particularly 17th amendment; on the other, it has to suggest changes in the constitution for enlarging the parameters of provincial autonomy. The committee wants to accomplish both these tasks through a consensus approach, taking all the political forces on board. In its last meeting held on September 4, the 20-member committee discussed a number of issues, including the question of provincial autonomy and 17th amendment. The deliberations of the committee as reported in the press indicate that the committee will have to navigate its way through mire of sharply divergent perspectives on these issues. Difficult as the task before the committee may be, the past political and constitutional history of our country tells us that our politicians have never disappointed the nation. In spite of extremely difficult circumstances and complex issues, they have managed to hammer out agreed and consensus based solutions to the constitutional issues. It may therefore be useful to recall similar episodes of our past political history and draw some conclusions to provide guidance for the future. Pakistan came into existence as a nation divided into two parts by a distance of more than 1000 miles. The only bond was the common faith of Islam; yet the two parts had completely divergent views on the issues of political representation, centre-province relations and foreign policy. In East Pakistan majority of the political parties held the extreme view of provincial autonomy, granting only three subjects i. e. defence, foreign affairs and currency to the centre. The Bengalis also demanded representation in the lower house of the Parliament on the basis of population; and since their population was larger than the population of all the provinces of West Pakistan put together, the demand evoked fear of dominance of one province over other provinces. The two reports of Basic Principles Committee presented in the First Constituent Assembly had failed to break the deadlock and the differences became so sharp that apprehensions were being expressed as if the country would never be able to get an agreed constitution. But the dedicated work of the Founding Fathers, both in the First Constituent Assembly (1947-54) and the Second Constituent Assembly (1955-56) produced a miracle in the form of 1956 constitution, which enjoyed the consensus support of East Pakistan as well as West Pakistan because it enlarged the area of provincial autonomy and sought to introduce more genuine parliamentary form of government as compared to 1935 Act, which provided for a stronger centre and armed the head of state with vast discretionary and special powers. Unfortunately, the abrogation of this constitution by Pakistan's first military ruler, Ayub Khan knocked out of bottom not only the very foundation of national unity - the principle of parity to which Bengalis had graciously agreed despite their numerical majority, but also supplanted highly centralised presidential form of government of 1962 constitution, under which, as one prominent jurist has remarked, Pakistan practically ceased to be a federation. This created alienation among the people of East Pakistan, which ultimately led to its secession from West Pakistan in 1971. In 1972, Pakistan was a not only a defeated and demoralised nation, it was also sharply divided due to the pervasive ideological and political polarisation in the country. The country had no constitution therefore it had to be run according to the rules and regulations of martial law enforced in March 1969 by General Yahya Khan till an interim constitution was put in place by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The job of framing of a new constitution was no less daunting than it was in 1950s. In smaller provinces, especially in Balochistan, demands for autonomy bordering on independence were being raised. There were even talks about the disintegration of Pakistan in view of the dire situation Pakistan was in following the disastrous events of 1971. It required courage, sagacity, vision and a spirit of give and take on the part of politicians to frame an agreed and consensuses based constitution; because only such a document could restore the morale of the people and ensure national unity. We see that once again the politicians, although they had conflicting political and ideological orientations, proved true to the challenge and were able to reach an agreement on the thorny issues of provincial autonomy, supremacy of the Parliament and independence of judiciary. The propelling force behind this success was the countrywide mass movement of 1968-69 in which people from all walks of life had taken part. The movement had rejected Ayub Khan's presidential system and had unanimously demanded restoration of parliamentary form of government with Parliament as supreme body and the head of the state having only formal powers. The movement had also rejected Ayub Khan's notion of strong centre and demanded maximum provincial autonomy. All the political parties, which participated in 1970 general elections, had already included the restoration of parliamentary democracy and maximum provincial autonomy in their election manifestos. The results of elections confirmed the popular verdict in favour of empowering Parliament and the provinces through a new dispensation based on parliamentary form of government and maximum provincial autonomy. The 1973 constitution reflects collective wisdom of the people of Pakistan accumulated through their political experience since independence. It reflects a national consensus on three basic structures of Pakistan's political system-federalism, parliamentary supremacy and independence of judiciary. Any deviation from these three fundamental principles would not only be a recipe for political instability in the country but also an affront to popular sentiments and aspirations. The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms would, therefore, do well to take into account these lessons from our past political history, which clearly indicates Pakistani people's preference for parliamentary form of government, maximum powers for the provinces and ensuring independence of judiciary. The process of political development in Pakistan represents an evolution, through various stages, of our polity from a highly centralised and authoritarian system under the interim constitution based on 1935 Act to a genuinely federal and parliamentary system under 1973 constitution. The adherence to these principles is a sine qua non for a stable, united, progressive and democratic Pakistan. The writer is senior research fellow at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute E-mail: Rashid_khan192@yahoo.com