Almost 65 years ago the Quaid made a speech to the Constituent Assembly on Aug 11, 1947 . A key part of this speech was: “… You are free, free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosque or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state”.
Thirteen months after that speech, he died on Sept 11, 1948. Six months after his death, the Assembly approved the ‘Objectives Resolution’ on March 7, 1948, introduced by Liaquat Ali Khan. It is interesting that Gen Zia banned all references to this speech of the Quaid during his 11 years of martial law rule (1977-1988). When Junejo became prime minister in the party-less elections of 1988, he lifted the ban on press censorship.
The Objective Resolution became a part of the preamble to the 1973 Constitution passed by Bhutto and all Parties on April 12, 1973. About 12 years later, Zia, through his order of 1985, removed the preamble and made the Objectives Resolution a part of the substantive provisions of the Constitution by the inclusion of Article 2-A, which reads:
“The principles and provisions set out in the Objectives Resolution introduced in the Annex are hereby made substantive part of the Constitution and shall have effect accordingly.” The present parliament in 2010, with the 18th Amendment, did away with much of what Zia had done through his 8th Amendment, but the Objectives Resolution remained as Article 2-A, as desired by Gen Zia.
It was no longer the preamble as it was under the Constitution passed by Bhutto and all other parties in 1973. The only change is that the word ‘freely’ has been inserted again, which had been removed by Gen Zia, relating to the ‘provisions to be made for the minorities to freely profess and practise their religion and develop their cultures’.
A book on ‘The 8th Amendment’, written by Aqil Ahmed and published in 1989, mentions: “… the insertion of Article 2-A was rooted more in emotions and sentiments than practical implications… Article 2-A must be reconsidered very closely and unemotionally to determine the constitutional utility and essentiality” (a review by Makhdoom Ali Khan of this book was published in national press on Oct 19, 1990, under the caption ‘The debate that refuses to die’).
Once again, one hopes that press will help us understand why the 18th Amendment did not restore this clause to its place as a preamble of the original 1973 Constitution.
Karachi , August 22.