Muhammad Ali speaks on the Constitution
First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan presented three draft constitutions
before it was dissolved by the Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad
in 1954. The Second Constituent Assembly was inaugurated in July
1955. and presented the Fourth Draft Constitution on 8 January 1956.
With some modifications, the draft was adopted on 29 February and
came in force from 23 March 1956 as the Constitution of the Islamic
Republic of Pakistan (it is now usually called The Constitution
of 1956 to distinguish it from the two others that followed
its subsequent abrogation). The following is the speech of Prime
Minister Chaudhri Muhammad Ali in favor of the fourth draft constitution.
Speech by Mr. Muhammad Ali, Prime Minister
On the Fourth Draft Constitution
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: Sir, Pakistan came
into existence as the result of a struggle by the Muslims of the
subcontinent to win a homeland for themselves in which they would
be free to live their own way of life and develop their own culture.
Mr. H. S. Suhrawardy: Hear, hear. We agree.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: That struggle culminated
in an agreement between the main political parties of the subcontinent:
to partition the subcontinent so that the majority Muslim-areas
of the North-East and the North-West would form the State of Pakistan.
This is how Pakistan came into existence and on its establishment,
the object of the Pakistan movement was not completely fulfilled.
If I might quote the Quid-e-Azam:
"The establishment of Pakistan for which we
had been striving for the last ten years is by the grace of God
an accomplished fact today," (This was in October, 1947.)
"For the creation of a State of our own was a means to an
end and not an end in itself. The idea was that we should have
a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which
we could develop according to our own way of life and culture
and wherein the principles of Islamic social could find free-play."
Mr. H. S. Suhrawardy: Quite right. I entirely agree.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: That was the reason
for the establishment of Pakistan. And the urge to develop our culture,
to realize our potentialities to the utmost, to find an atmosphere
in which the spirit of Islam can flourish, that urge is there in
the nation today. It has been the reason for its existence and it
remains the driving force of the people of Pakistan. That freedom
and that urge we mist safeguard; we can ignore it only at our peril.
No man of honour repudiates his parentage. Every tree springs from
its seed; it grows and it flowers. It may stay as a small seed but,
over a period of years, it shoots out branches, it bears fruit and
people recognize its worth. We, Sir, shall be in that process for
many years before the true spirit of Islamic culture finds fruition
here. The freedom which the Muslims of Pakistan wanted for themselves,
they do not want to deny to other communities living in Pakistan.
It is an essential part of our faith that the non-Muslims living
here should be equally free to develop their culture; to practise
and propagate their religion; should be equal and honoured citizens
of Pakistan. It is on these basic concepts that the whole structure
of Pakistan should be built.
And how did we, the people of Northwest and the people
of North-East come together even though separated by a distance
of 1,500 miles, how did we overcome the handicaps of geography?
It is partly a tribute to the spirit of Islam which rises above
geography and partly a recognition of the fact that we need each
other; that it is only living and working together that we can survive.
The remarks which the Honourable Leader of the opposition made on
that subject, I can endorse whole-heartedly. There can never be
any question of secession. No such thought must ever be entertained.
Mr. Suhrawardy excused the people who talked about it as indulging
"in intellectual exercise". I do hope that these intellectual
gymnasts will not go through their contortions in public but that
they would devote their surplus intellectual energies to innocent
pursuits such as solving cross-word puzzles, certainly not doing
things which injure the very foundations of our State. And those
of my friends who use phrases carelessly, who talk of "nationalities"
in a loose way which can lead to misunderstandings, I would earnestly
request them to desist. We are yet in a formative stage and even
though the idea of Pakistan Nationalism, the idea of our common
culture of one country and one people, shines bright, yet there
are spots here and there, dark spots, where germs of disruption
can thrive. Let no patriotic man do anything which would help these
germs to survive. Let him not, by inadvertence, or in any other
manner, lend support to any such tendency in our body politic. Let
us, once and for all, make up our mind and be absolutely clear that
East and West Pakistan are one; they must be welded into an indivisible
whole. That way lies our survival. The freedom for which our people
struggled is our most precious possession. I maintained that our
people have made tremendous sacrifices for winning freedom and that
they are continuing to those sacrifices. (I shall turn to this matter
later.) Any attempt to cause misunderstanding, between East Pakistan
and West Pakistan, anything that creates a gulf between the two,
endangers that freedom, because it endangers the integrity of the
State. It would mean in other words that the freedom to develop
our culture, to have an environment in which the Islamic spirit
could flourish, would be dead and gone, we have therefore, continually
to remind ourselves of this. We cannot live one without the other.
It may be remembered by many that at the time of partition a large
number of experts thought that even the combined resources of East
Pakistan and West Pakistan would not be enough to make a stable
state with a viable economy. These prophets of gloom claimed and
prophesied that Pakistan would disintegrate and come to an end within
a period of months. This prophesy included both East and West Pakistan.
They thought Pakistan would not be able to provide for its defence
and that if, at all, it made some half-hearted attempt towards that
end it would have no resources left for development. That was the
forecast by some eminent experts at that time. This forecast has
been belied and Pakistan is here-strong and flourishing. But that
is so because the resources of East Pakistan and West Pakistan together
are available to it in every way. Alone neither East nor West Pakistan
can hope to survive. We have, in safeguarding our freedom together,
made extreme sacrifices. Let me give an illustration. The bulk of
our revenue goes towards the maintenance of our defence forces because
it is essential to maintain our freedom and to preserve our independence.
The security of the State occupies the foremost place in our polity.
Defence expenditure is unproductive expenditure; it takes away a
lot from the resources of the country but it does not give anything
back to it. And precious resources, which could have been used for
the development of the country and for raising the standards of
living, have been year after year allocated for defence, so that
our independence and our freedom might be preserved. I remember
the late Honourable Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan saying that he would rather
see the people of this country go naked and hungry than jeopardize
its security. That is the spirit of the people of the country and
let us not tamper with that spirit. Let us not weaken it in any
way. Let us not in any way undermine our will and survive and to
grow strong and prosperous in unison together.
Honourable Deputy Speaker: The House stands adjourned
for Half an Hour for Asr Prayers.
[House meets again after ASR Prayers]
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: Sir, I beg your permission
and crave the indulgence of the House for a little digression. I
know it is not strictly relevant to the discussion of Constitutional
issues but so many references have been made in the House as to
what has happened during the last 8 years in East Pakistan, the
steps that have been or have not been taken to develop it that I
feel should be permitted to make some observations as to the state
of affairs at the time of partition and at present. This would help
to put in proper perspective the proposals that we have to consider.
At the time of Partition Pakistan was a poor country,
producing raw materials, having very little industry, and not much
control over commerce and not fully developed administratively or
economically. It still is a poor, under-developed country with one
of the lowest national incomes in the world. And this is true of
both East Pakistan and West Pakistan. We have to go a very very
long way, indeed, before we can raise the standard of living or
our people to what may be regarded as an adequate level in the modern
world. One of the impulses that led to the creation of Pakistan
arose out of the feeling that the Muslim majority areas both in
the North-East and Northwest i.e., both East Pakistan and West Pakistan
were more underdeveloped than the rest of India. There had been
very little industrialization in these areas, very little economic
development. And if I may be permitted a comparison as between East
and West Pakistan, East Pakistan was still more underdeveloped Compared
with the advanced countries, we might say that both East Pakistan
and West Pakistan are somewhere in the Kindergarten class, but as
being in Kindergarten class II, West Pakistan stands a bit higher
than East Pakistan. That was the position at the time of Partition.
In East Pakistan all the means of communication converged on Calcutta.
Centres of culture, commerce, industry everything was concentrated
in Calcutta. East Pakistan was nothing but the producer of raw materials,
of jute in the main for which it had no baling presses; it simply
passed the jute on the Calcutta. There had been 200 years of neglect.
For one hundred years a trading company exploited the resources
of East Bengal for commercial profit. Later, I need not go into
details, but anyone who has read Hunters Book "The Mussalmans
of India", knows well that the plight of the Muslims of East
Bengal. Culturally, economically and in every way they were very
very underdeveloped With Partition, Calcutta going to India, this
situation came to the fore and the first task that confronted the
Pakistan Government was to win economic independence for East Bengal
whose economy was totally dependent upon Calcutta. The Port of Chittagong
had to be developed; communications had to be re-organised; inland
river transport had to be planned and developed; jute bailing presses
had to be set up and hundreds of things, big and small, had to be
done just to win economic independence. There were no banking facilities,
no commerce and industry, all had been concentrated in Calcutta.
All had to be built anew. A new Capital had to be built in Dacca.
In the matter of administration, the Muslims of East Bengal had
been very poorly represented in the Services. I have always regarded
it as one of the great misfortunes of Pakistan that at the time
of Partition, there were not a large number of trained administrators
from the Muslims of East Pakistan.
Malik Muhammad Firoz Khan (West Pakistan, Muslim):
One I.C.S. Officer only.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: Just one ICS Officer
I am talking only of the Muslims of East Pakistan because
most of the Hindus had opted for India. Had they remained in East
Pakistan, the position would have been different. That was the condition.
The food economy was in a very precarious condition and, as I said,
there was no industry and very little of commerce. It was these
deficiencies that had to be made up. They were of the first importance
because without basic services relating to communications, port,
banking, commerce, administration, it is impossible to develop.
They are the essential preliminary conditions, the substructure
on which you can raise an economy. West Pakistan, as it happened,
was more developed in these respects, true, it had the impact of
those large disturbances which led to the migration of millions
and for some months, the economy of West Pakistan was disrupted,
but the gap that was left by the migration of Hindus was very soon
filled by the refugees coming from various parts of India bringing
with them knowledge, skill, trade connections and capital. West
Pakistan did not suffer the loss of any capital city. The canal
water dispute with India did create problems for West Pakistan and
very large expenditure has had to be incurred not for development
as is mistakenly said but merely to preserve the status quo as it
was at the time of partition. In the administrative services, among
engineers, technicians and others there were a fairly large number
of Muslims in West Pakistan and many of those who came from the
minority Provinces of India were perhaps, if I may say so, more
easily assimilated here. Therefore, the economy of West Pakistan
though in an undeveloped state and though disrupted by the
conditions I have described was in a stronger position. Also
a number of schemes like Malakand Hydro-electric Project, the Lower
Sind Barrage Project, the Rasool Hydroelectric Project had already
reached a very advanced stage of planning and were even in the process
of execution. Banking, commerce, industry also were at the time
of partition in a more advanced state in West Pakistan. Higher taxation
in West Pakistan at the time of partition is also indicative, to
some extent, of the difference in the level of the two economies
taxation both Central and Provincial was about three times
as high in West Pakistan as it was in East Pakistan. The disparity
is still large enough though not so great now as it was then.
These were the conditions in which the Central Government
had to operate. It necessarily had to go by priorities and the first
priority, as I have said, was to win economic independence for East
Pakistan. The development of the Chittagong Port, the development
of jute bailing and manufacturing capacity, the organization of
the E.B.R. all uses tasks were taken in hand first of all. The re-organisation
of the Armed Forces could only be accomplished where there were
Cantonments, Ordnance and supply depots, etc. and the re-organisation
of the Armed Forces was a matter of the highest importance for the
State. Let us remember what we got bits and pieces of Units. True,
most of the pre-partition army was stationed in what is now known
as West Pakistan. That had been happening over a whole century as
a result of strategic requirements. There were no Cantonments and
no facilities for the re-organisation of the Armed Forces in East
Pakistan. One must view all these factors objectively. Objectivity
is essential for only then can one get a true understanding of the
actual state of affairs existing at the time. It is true that development
in West Pakistan has been more rapid than in East Pakistan. But
it is completely untrue to say that East Pakistan has been impoverished
and that it is in a poorer state then it was at the time of partition.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (East Bengal, Muslim): The
facts are there.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali : It has developed
not at the same rate as West Pakistan but it has made, in my humble
opinion, very considerable progress.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: No progress.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: A great deal more
needs to be done and we are determined to do it. We are determined
to raise the rate of development in East Pakistan so as to bring
it to parity with West Pakistan. It is essential that every part
of the country be developed uniformly.
An Honourable Member: Have it in the Constitution.
Honourable Deputy Speaker : Please be quiet.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: As I said the allegation
that East Pakistan has been impoverished is completely wrong. Figures
have been cited to show that the contribution of East Pakistan to
the Central revenues has been progressively coming down in terms
of percentage. Now that is not quite so. It started going up and
why did it come down? Because during the Korean boom when jute prices
went up, jute duty was increased and the revenue resources of the
Central Government were thereby enhanced. When these prices came
down, the jute duty was brought down very considerably. That has
in the main accounted for this decrease. Another factor was that
the duty on betel-nuts which are grown in East Pakistan was removed.
Looking at these statistics, one must carefully examine the underlying
factors. A great many figures have been quoted in this House. I
regret to say that most of them are incorrect not by a small margin
but by a wide margin.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: We can prove that it is correct.
Honourable Deputy Speaker: You can prove it later
on. But in the meantime you hear what the Prime Minister has to
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: We are patiently hearing.
We know the Prime Minister is speaking.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: May I say one thing?
I never interrupt any member of the House, however great the provocation
might be. There have been the occasions when statements have been
attributed to me which were completely false. Nevertheless, I never
stood up to intervene. I request that the same courtesy be extended
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Sir, we always extend that
Mr. Fazlur Rahman: Sir, the word false
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: All right, I say
incorrect. Now, Sir, what is the policy that one has to follow?
First of all economic independence for the country which is a matter
of the highest importance. That means, in effect, that whatever
we can produce from our own resources, for the basic necessities
of life, food, cloth, shelter, etc. we must produce ourselves. And
we must do so treating the economy of the country as a single economy
wherever with the presence of raw materials or other advantages
we can most advantageously and most economically develop it, we
develop it their in the interest of the whole country. We must ensure
that there is uniform development all over the country. There may
be some raw materials available here, some raw material available
there but we must try so to develop them that we are able to make
the fullest use of the potential which is available both in East
Pakistan and in West Pakistan. This policy will be seen reflected
in the plans that the Planning Board is preparing and which will
be placed before the country very soon. It is not a matter in which
I am holding out some personal assurance to be fulfilled or not
to be fulfilled at some future indefinite date. Fir the last two
years the Planning Board, with the assistance of eminent experts
from outside as well as from inside the country, has been engaged
in preparing a plan for the whole of the country. I have insisted
that these plans should ensure uniform development all over the
country, that they should be prepared in consultation with the Provincial
Government of East Pakistan and West Pakistan and to their satisfaction
and should ensure that there is maximum utilization of the resources
of the country in the shortest possible time. These plans will be
placed before the National Economic Council. I maintain that in
that body we have the means of bringing unity and harmony in this
very important and vital field. In this Council will be associated
Ministers of the Central Government and Ministers of the Provincial
Government and they will work together. It may be said they may
disagree; possibly they might, but I have no doubt that reasonable
men sitting round the table objectively examining the facts and
figures before them and determined to do the best that is possible
for the country, will reach an agreement. That has been my own experience,
today we sit in the Cabinet Ministers from East Pakistan and Ministers
from West Pakistan we examine each proposal on merits in the interest
of the whole country, East Pakistan as well as West Pakistan. I
have no doubt that if one works in that spirit, one can achieve
most valuable results.
There are one or two figures of a general kind, which
I would like to mention although I had no intention of entering
into this area of controversy. It was been said that the wealth
of East Pakistan is being drained away. This is incorrect. What
does the Centre get from East Pakistan the contribution from
East Pakistan to Central revenues plus the part of the Central loans
which comes out of East Pakistan. What is put into East Bengal by
the Central Government is through the disbursements of the Central
Government on revenue account and capital account plus the loans
advanced by the Central Government to the Provincial Government.
The outgoings from the Centre are in excess of the Centres
Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmed: Question.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: By many crores.
This is the first thing. Secondly about Foreign Exchange. In thinking
of Foreign Exchange one has to look not merely at the balance of
trade or the balance of merchandise with the rest of the world,
but also with the rest of Pakistan. It makes no difference from
that point of view whether the goods come from West Pakistan or
from any outside sources. From 1949 50 to 1954 55,
East Pakistan has had a trade surplus of 136 crores and West Pakistan
had a deficit of 40 crores.
Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad: Incorrect.
The Honourable Muhammad Ali: That is the trade deficit
taking into account the trade with foreign countries as well as
inter-zonal trade. But the balance of trade, as every one knows,
is a very different thing from what is known as balance of payments.
The Balance of Payment takes into account many other items, shipping,
insurance, movement of capital, movement of gold and so on. Within
a country there are not exact statistics for these movements. It
is because of this that no one is in a position to prepare the balance
of payments for separate parts of the same country having the same
currency system and belonging to a single economy. Remittances and
transfers are continually being made and there is no statistical
record of this. In the one field in which for some time statistics
have been kept namely, gold, the movement has been continually from
West Pakistan to East Pakistan. Further, one has to consider the
payments made outside the country for stores, defence equipment;
and they come to a very very considerable amount. Then there is
the expenditure on Foreign Missions. The import of defence stores
into West Pakistan confers no benefits on the economy of West Pakistan.
The fact that guns, fire ammunition for training, or vehicles move
on the roads of West Pakistan confers no benefit of any kind.
Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad: Question.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: Unproductive defence
expenditure which takes away from the resources of the country is
not an economic benefit.
The fact of the matter is this, taking a broad view,
the bulk of the revenues of the Central Government is raised from
West Pakistan and is spent on unproductive defence services. That
is the real position. Why does one spend it in a particular place?
Not to confer economic benefits. It is spent where forces are located
on strategic considerations. There is another class of unproductive
expenditure on the Civil Armed Forces in the Frontier. That again
is considerable and again is unproductive. Now it is maintained
that salaries paid to armed forces confer a benefit on West Pakistan.
For the last hundred years or so, salaries have been paid to the
men drawn from certain districts in West Pakistan and these districts
remain the poorest districts in West Pakistan, to this day. In fact,
before partition, one used to hear complaints very frequent
complaints that the British Government deliberately refrained
from developing these districts economically, kept them poor, in
order to be able to recruit men from there. Money which goes into
productive activity is fruitful. The payment of salaries merely
in certain poor districts without adding to the productive development
in those places confers no benefit and, this can be seen by making
a comparison between the districts from which most recruitment is
made and the districts, like Lyallpur, Multan, and others, where
practically no recruitment takes place and which are the richest
districts in West Pakistan. Now this is not to say that recruitment
should continue to be confined to those areas. I agree wholly with
those who maintain that citizens all over the country have a right
to take part in the defence of the country. (Hear, hear)
His Excellency Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani: Duty.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: I agree wholly with
that, efforts are being made, and I have intensified those efforts,
to make up deficiencies in that respect. When some years ago, a
Committee was appointed to go into the question of accelerating
recruitment in East Pakistan, the most important recommendation
it made was that a Military Academy should be set up in East Pakistan
for the training of young men there. Unfortunately, no action had
been taken on that, or rather a halfhearted attempt had been made
at one time and then not pursued. I have now sanctioned Rs. 40 lakhs
for the construction of the Military Academy and work is being taken
in hand immediately.
Honourable Deputy Speaker [to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman]:
Why can you not follow the example set by your leader and keep silence?
His Excellency Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani: They do
not follow the good example of their leader.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: You ask your followers to
Honourable Deputy Speaker: Please ask me to maintain
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: I want to tell you that when
our leader was delivering his speech, members like Mr. Fazlul Huq,
Mr. I. I. Chundrigar, Mr. Yusuf Haroon and others were trying to
intervene and disturb him. We are giving a patient hearing. We know
how to respect the Leader of the House.
The Honourable Mr. I. I. Chundrigar: I stood up and
put the question.
Mr. Zahiruddin: It is the gentlemen, who is sitting
behind him, who is always guilty of that that.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: We have never disturbed him.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: Can I resume my
Honourable Deputy Speaker: Yes.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: The Honourable Leader
of the Opposition asked why a Naval Base was not set up in East
Pakistan? He perhaps was not aware that I had already passed orders
for the establishment of a Naval Base at Chittagong.
Mr. Zahiruddin: Abul Mansurs speech is bearing
Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad: After my speech?
Some Honourable Members: No, no. (Laughter)
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: Much earlier.
Mr. Zahiruddin: It is after that speech that we have
heard about this Rs. 40 lakhs.
His Excellency Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani: This is
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: It was over a month
ago or so that I had passed orders about Rs. 40 lakhs.
Honourable Deputy Speaker: He was drafting his speech
at the time; (Laughter).
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: Sir, I have given
an indication of the firm determination of this Government to do
everything possible to develop East Pakistan economically and to
do everything that lies in our power, so that East Pakistan may
play its due part in the Defence Services.
One incidental advantage I might mention of the unification
of West Pakistan is that it has reduced five Provinces to two. Previously,
East Pakistan was one of five Provinces and therefore was competing
in demands with the five Provincial Governments. Today, with only
two Provincial Governments, inevitably the demands of East Pakistan
and West Pakistan must receive equal consideration. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad: With Capital in one.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: This aspect of the
matter may not be present to the minds of the members but it is
an inevitable consequence and I think it is a good consequence of
the unification of West Pakistan.
Mr. Zahiruddin: Just put down party in the Constitution
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: Now about Services.
I have referred already to the fact that at the time of Partition,
there were very few officers from Bengal. The policy followed since
then has been to recruit on the basis of 20 per cent I am
talking of the Central Services 20 per cent, on merit; 40
per cent from East Pakistan; 40 per cent from West Pakistan, and
the results are that in most of the Superior services today where
the ratio was somewhere near zero at the time of Partition, it ranges
from 20 to 25 per cent now.
In the Central Secretariat itself, taking Under Secretaries
and Deputy Secretaries, East Pakistan officers form about 25 per
cent of the total and I am taking special steps to increase the
representation of East Pakistan officers in the Central Secretariat.
I have no doubt in my mind that within, say, seven years or so,
this problem will be forgotten.
Mr. Zahiruddin: We hope you will be there.
The Honourable Mr. Muhammad Ali: That is to say,
there will be an adequate number of officers from East Pakistan
and from West Pakistan in all the Services and, therefore, any uneasiness
or heart-burning that might arise from this disparity which was
infinitely more marked at the time of Partition, will disappear.
It is the earnest desire of all of us that it should go. It is only
when East Pakistan feels that it is adequately represented in the
Administration that it will feel that it is receiving fair treatment.
Otherwise, even if there is fair treatment, there is always the
suspicion that it is not so. In this matter I recognize that the
situation of the Capital in West Pakistan does make a difference
and it does lead to difficulties for the people of East Pakistan.
We must therefore take steps, by decentralizing Administration,
to remove or reduce those difficulties as much as possible. (interruptions).
The Honourable Pir Ali Muhammad Rashidi: The running
commentary has become a great nuisance.
Honourable Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
His Excellency Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani: Pakistan
Radio should take advantage of it. This is a useful source.
The Honourable Pir Ali Muhammad Rashidi: No doubt,
we shall take advantage of it. (Interruptions).
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: One inevitable consequence
is that because of the distance, the feeling of isolation and neglect
grows sharp. Exactly the same conditions may prevail in West Pakistan
as in East Pakistan and yet the feeling will be greater neglect
there. As I have said before, both East Pakistan and West Pakistan
are poor. You go inside the country here. Do not look at Karachi.
You go inside the country into the villages and you will find that
people are living in as great poverty, misery and squalor as anywhere
in Pakistan. Karachi gives a misleading picture and those people
who merely look at the buildings and mills here are likely to be
led away by the impression that West Pakistan is prospering mightily.
But we have, as I said, to develop and to raise the standard of
living not merely in the big cities, but in the remotest villages
both in East Pakistan and West Pakistan. Our people have to learn
Sciences and new techniques and methods of production. They have
to receive education. 90 per cent of our people are illiterate.
Health services have to be improved. A thousand and one things have
to be done. And that is one reason amongst others, why I am very
impatient that we should pass the Constitution as early as possible.
Let the country concentrate on the real social and economic problems
that confront us. Undoubtedly we must provide the basic constitutional
framework for the country, but the real problems are those concerned
with the welfare of the masses, whether in East Pakistan or in West
Pakistan, and it is to these problems that all of us have to apply
If I might, Sir, now turn to some aspects of the Constitution,
the dictates of geography make it inevitable that we should have
a federal constitution. There is the disability in the situation
of the capital. A unitary form of Government would multiply the
disabilities a thousand fold. Therefore, a federal constitution,
where the spheres of activity of the Provincial Government and the
Central Government are earmarked, is essential. Even now with the
clear ear-marking of these responsibilities in the Government of
India Act, 1935, there is a good deal of confusion. The Honourable
Leader of the Opposition referred yesterday to projects for improving
inland waterways, and for the setting up of canning factories and
charged the Central Government with neglect. In fact, they all fall
within the provincial sphere. Unfortunately the federal system is
not a very easy system of government for people to understand. A
unitary government makes it much easier for people to place responsibility.
However, our geographical situation is such that a federal constitution
is inevitable for us, and in that federal constitution for reasons
of geography there must be the maximum of provincial autonomy. But
provincial autonomy has meaning and significance only within the
framework of a country. Provinces are parts of a country and, therefore,
provincial autonomy has to be consistent with the integrity and
security and stability of the country. On that matter I am in full
agreement with the Leader of the Opposition. I could not improve
upon the remarks he made on this subject, and I think anybody looking
at the problems of this country in a rational manner would come
to the same conclusion.
His Excellency Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani: This brings
out the essential unity of all regions.
Mr. Zahiruddin: Exploitation is the only religion
that you follow, I am very sorry to say.
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: Secondly, our Constitution
must be democratic and it has been modeled on the British Parliamentary
System. Objection has been raised that extraordinary powers have
been given to the President or the Governors, in particular the
power of dissolving Parliament. The Honourable Law Minister, has
already explained that, that power will not be exercised by the
President or the Governor in his discretion, but on advice, and
an amendment to that effect is being moved, Once more, in order
to put the matter beyond any doubt that the President or the Governor
is to act on the advice of the Minister or Ministers concerned,
an amendment is being moved to that effect. The terms of the amendment
"In exercise of his functions under the Constitution,
the President or a Governor shall act in accordance with the advice
of the appropriate Minister or Ministers, except when he is required
under the Constitution to act or exercise his functions in his discretion."
And these latter functions have been specified and
they are only two or three such as the appointment of the Election
Commissioner or the Public Service Commissioners.
Mr. Fazlur Rahman: We are glad that our suggestions
have been accepted.
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: Then there is the
matter of the choosing of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister
must be some one who, in the judgment of the President is most likely
to command the confidence of the majority of the House. So except
for these matters, the President shall act on the advice
and similarly the Governors or the Ministers or the Minister
concerned. In fact, every amendment which has been suggested from
any quarter whatsoever and certainly from the members of this House
is receiving the most careful consideration. We do not claim to
have all the wisdom is the world and this constitution making is
certainly a matter for this whole House and, therefore, all suggestions
must receive most careful consideration.
The Honourable Leader of the Opposition referred to
the language question and asked why we did not make it clear that
Urdu and Bengali shall be State languages. That will be done and
an amendment to that effect has been moved.
(Thumping of tables from the Coalition Party).
Honourable Deputy Speaker: (Addressing the Opposition).
Why do you not say: Hear; hear. (Laughter)
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: We have no desire
to have any ambiguity in this or any other matter.
Mr. Zahiruddin: This constitution was hailed as a
perfect Constitution. Unfortunately some defects have been pointed
out in the House.
The Honourable Pir Ali Mohammad Rashidi: Let them
take the credit.
Mr. Zahiruddin: What about those sycophantic praises?
The Honourable Pir Ali Mohammad Rashidi: We give you
all the credit that you want. We will bring forward a motion passing
all the credit to them.
His Excellency Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani: We will
move an amendment.
Honourable Deputy Speaker: Order, order.
Mr. Yusuf A. Haroon: They want to have some publicity
so let them have it.
Mr. Zahiruddin: We do not need it. We have the people
The Honourable Pir Mohammad Rashidi: They are too
few: they need it.
Mr. Yusuf A. Haroon: Sir, the
Honourable Deputy Speaker : Why are you adding to
Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad: There are still some mistakes.
His Excellency Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani: Mistakes
must be corrected.
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: No Constitution in
the world is perfect. It is always capable of improvement and that
is the reason why every modern constitution provides a procedure
for amending it.
Mr. Fazlur Rahman: Make it easy.
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: We have tried to
make the procedure for amendment of the constitution simple and
easy so that our constitution is flexible. A great many provisions
will be regulated by Acts or Parliament. That is one way of making
the constitution flexible. The procedure for amending the constitution
itself is a fairly simple one.
We do not claim, as I have said, all the wisdom in
the world. This probably applies to all sections whether it is the
Opposition or this side, or even taking the whole House together.
We do not know what the requirements of the future generations will
be and, therefore, we must approach this task in all humility and
not in a spirit of arrogance or pride. I have heard many homilies
yesterday and today "I must not be this and I must not
be that"; with an assumption of superior virtue. I am a very
humble man and I take those homilies in a spirit of humility; whatever
the spirit in which they might have been delivered, for I know that
we all are fallible and weak men.
Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad: Not Mr. Hamidul Huq Choudhury.
Mr. Abul Aleem: Except Mr. Suhrawardy.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Do not go to that extent, Mr.
Mr. Abdul Aleem: Why do you attack others like that?
Honourable Deputy Speaker: Order, order, please.
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: All that we can attempt
in all sincerity and exercising the highest judgment of which we
are capable, is to render the best service that we can to this country.
I trust that these constitutional problems will be approached in
that spirit. I can certainly say that I have throughout tried, subject
to one overriding consideration which is present to my mind all
the time and that is, to maintain, the integrity of this country.
Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad: No one will be.
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: Subject to that overriding
consideration, I have tried.
Mr. Fazlur Rahman: I think this is a very bad spirit
to say that the entire House goes against the integrity and I will
not go. This is a very wrong way. (Interruptions.)
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: I cast no reflection
upon any members of this House.
Honourable Deputy Speaker: The House stands adjourned
for half an hour for Maghrib Prayers.
[The Assembly then adjourned for Maghrib Prayers.
The Assembly re-assembled after Maghrib Prayers at Forty-Five
Minutes Past Seven of the clock, in the evening, Honourable Deputy
Speaker (the Honourable Mr. C. Gibbon) in the Chair.]
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: Sir, I was submitting
that subject to the overriding consideration of maintaining the
integrity of the country what I attempted to do was to bring about
the maximum measure of agreement between representatives of East
and West Pakistan. In my view the constitution for this country
should be framed with the consent of the majority of the representatives
of East Pakistan and the majority of the representatives of the
West Pakistan. Therefore, I was concerned with obtaining the maximum
measure of agreement. I did not allow my own personal views to intrude
so much upon these decisions because in a democratic set up the
view of the majority must prevail. I do not claim that degree of
wisdom for myself, whatever my views on a particular question, that
they must necessarily be right. It is in that spirit that I have
worked and I think it is in that spirit that the members of the
Coalition Party have worked together. I have desired always that
the constitution should be treated on a national basis and that
all parties should be associated with the work of framing it. It
was for this reason that I requested the Leader of the Opposition
that we might all sit together and frame the Constitution. As he
has said he could not see his way to agreeing with that suggestion
and asked instead that the Coalition Party which is responsible
for running the Government should take the responsibility of framing
Mr. Zahiruddin: First settle and then discuss.
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: I kept him in touch
with the progress we made from time to time and I say, Sir, at every
stage I have been willing, and am willing today to sit with the
Opposition and discuss all points of difference so that they might
be resolved amicably. The Opposition is as much concerned in the
framing of a sound constitution as the members of the coalition.
It is the desire of every one in the country that the constitution
should be framed as early as possible and that thereafter there
should be general elections at the earliest possible date. In a
democracy the opposition of today may be the Government of tomorrow
and, therefore, everyone is vitally concerned with seeing that a
sound constitution is framed for the country. That is the spirit
and the manner in which I have approached the problem. I, therefore,
Sir, welcome the idea that we should sit together and resolve these
points of difference. My suggestion would be that those matters
and those clauses, and they form the bulk, on which there is no
difference of opinion should be proceeded within the House and in
the morning we should sit together and hammer out those matters
on which there is difference of opinion. In that way I have no doubt
we can make quick progress. The number of clauses and matters on
which there is difference is not very large and if we work together
in the spirit of good will with the desire to give the country as
good and sound a constitution as possible, I think we can arrive
at an agreement very soon, within a few days.
Mr. Zahiruddin: Adjourn the House.
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: Therefore, Sir,
my suggestion would be that I am prepared to sit every morning with
the Opposition and discuss the points at issue. It is for that reason
that I am refraining at this stage from making any comments on matters
on which differences of view have been expressed. I want that these
matters should be discuss amicable. And if we can possibly reach
agreement let us reach agreement. I shall, at this time, refer to
only one thing, the Islamic character of the constitution, and that
again not in a spirit of controversy. Sir, as I stated in the beginning
of my speech when I quoted the Quaid-i-Azam to show that our object
is the development of Islamic culture and to let the Islamic spirit
operate on our society, our politics, our laws and, in fact, on
the entire sphere of human relationships. Islam, we are all well
aware, is not merely a matter of the individuals relation
with the Almighty; it concerns itself with all the spheres of life.
Its spirit permeates them all and although we are yet far from it
and are very imperfect Muslims indeed, I perhaps most of all, yet,
in our striving for the spirit of Islam, we regard ourselves as
ennobled and elevated above the ordinary mundane affairs of life.
All of us, I am sure, in varying degrees, with greater or less intensity,
work for it. We may have differences, all of us may not agree with
the manner in which one section interprets the injunctions of Islam
or the legal system of Islam, yet, Islam enjoins upon us, not compulsion
but discussion and consultation together and if, therefore, we discuss
these matters together in our National Parliament and arrive at
conclusions, may be after heated discussions, may be after a certain
measure of disagreement, I see nothing wrong in that process. I
feel, Sir, that our people are sufficiently imbued with tolerant
spirit of Islam to understand this process. May be, some people
try to fan fanaticism and intolerance. Well, it is the duty of all
right-minded citizens to resist them and to secure agreement on
how the essential principles of Islam should work in our society,
in our body politic, in our laws and in all that concerns society.
If we approach our work in that spirit, we must succeed. Submission
to the will of Almighty, peace and toleration and goodwill and justice
and brotherhood are the cardinal principles of Islam. If we enter
upon our task in that faith, however imperfectly and haltingly,
we shall nevertheless be marching towards the goal of a better-ordered
society than our own. Our society is full of all sorts of injustices,
social and economic. It is shot through and through with undue privileges
and if we are to fulfill the demand of Islam for social justice,
we shall have to undertake measures which will not have the ready
consent of everyone. Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved except
in the face of opposition. We should not be deterred by that, we
should hope and believe that in a democracy where men can freely
express their views, in a society however imperfectly Islamic, yet
Islamic, we shall gradually transform ourselves into a better and
nobler people. It is in that belief, Sir, that we have embarked
upon this venture, in an effort to realize and fulfill the high
purpose for which Pakistan was established. The Honourable Leader
of the Opposition himself gave eloquent expression to those high
ideals and added that we were far from a truly Islamic society.
There was, surprisingly enough for one of his clear and vigorous
mind, some contradiction in his thinking; on the one hand he maintained
that we are unworthy and unfit to be called Islamic in any sense.
Mr. Zahiruddin: With this Constitution.
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: On the other hand,
he painted a dark picture of an Islamic society practicing injustice
towards minorities, allowing slavery, mutilation and what not? I
have said before, Sir, that the spirit of Islam preaches tolerance
and that the right of freely developing our culture which we as
Muslims claim for ourselves must be conceded to non-Muslims. We
must move in the true spirit of Islam, we may be unworthy of it
today, but we have a right to express an aspiration for it and I
know we shall achieve our goal. If any one of us were asked whether
he is a Muslim or not, he would say that he is a Muslim, knowing
all the time that he is far from being a perfect Muslim, knowing
his limitations, imperfections, yet he would readily say that he
is a Muslim.
Chun mi goyam Musalmanam bilarzam,
Kih danam mushkilat-e-la ilah ra.
"When I say I am Muslim, I tremble, for I know
the difficulties of a La Ilaha Illal Lah,
. There is no God
but one God."
I know the difficulties of living the life of a true
Muslim. To every true believer his conscience may say that is his
claim to be a Muslim is a greatly exaggerated one, it may be that
when some one is asked whether he is a Muslim, he may feel ashamed
in his heart and feel that he is far from the true path and that
his life is a very different one from that of a true Muslim. It
is the same about our society. It is far from an Islamic society
and yet I said to strive for it, to endeavour, to achieve it, to
aspire towards it is the very reason of our whole life.
I hope, Sir, that I have said nothing which would
cause annoyance to anyone or give anyone a feeling that I was assuming
for myself any special kind of virtue. If I have done so inadvertently,
I beg forgiveness. We are, Sir, traveling on a difficult road. The
hazards are great enough without our adding to them through our
own vanity and, therefore, in all humility, in charity and submission,
let us walk this road together towards a better and more justly
Mr. H. S. Suhrawardy: Sir, the Honourable Prime Minister
has been good enough to make a suggestion as to how we can sit together
and consider the various clauses of the Constitution. I regret,
Sir, that he has not followed the reason for my offer to him. I
cannot conceive how, while we are discussing the matters in the
morning we shall oppose each other across the Floor of this House
in the evening. The Honourable Prime Minister has stated that only
non-controversial matters will be taken up and disposed off. If
these matters are non-controversial and can be disposed off at once,
there is hardly any point in wasting our time on it because when
the matters will come up in the ordinary course for discussion,
they will be disposed off in a matter of seconds. There are many
amendments, almost in every Chapter, that our party has suggested
which need discussion and there are many amendments which are cognate
to each other. I do not think, Sir, that the suggestion which has
been made by the Honourable Prime Minister is at all practical and
I would request him if he can possibly revise the opinion to and
consent to the adjournment of the Assembly for a few days within
which we can, morning, noon and night, sit down together for the
purpose of arriving at an agreement.
The Honourable Mr. Mohammad Ali: Sir, when I made
my suggestion, I had in mind the fact that a great many of the clauses
are really of a non-controversial character with hardly any real
difference of opinion about them. There may be slight improvements
which can be suggested as we proceed and can readily be settled
in the course of discussion in the House itself. The mere process
of going through a large number of sections takes time. There is
a certain procedure which has to be followed about them and now
and then there may be some explanations to give. All that, however,
does not take away from the non-controversial character of these
clauses. It was for that reason, Sir, that I suggested that we should
go on with our work here in the afternoons and in the mornings take
up these matters on which a very real difference of opinion has
been expressed. It was for that reason and in that spirit that I
made this suggestion. I have already submitted, my reasons why we
should make every endeavour to pass the Constitution during the
month of February. Provincial Assemblies and the Central Assembly
will meet in March for their Budget Sessions. There are a number
of persons who are Members both of the Provincial as well as the
Central Assemblies. Their presence for Constitution making which
is of overriding importance is essential. Therefore, all we have
with us is the month of February. If we do not pass the Constitution
during this month, we have to adjourn the Constituent Assembly for
the Budget Sessions of Provincial Assemblies and the Central Assembly,
and that will take the whole of March and may be a greater part
of April. Constitution-making would, therefore, be deferred till
May and, as I have submitted before, all over the country, people
are anxious that the Constitution should be passed at the earliest
possible date. It is with the desire to utilize every moment of
our time that I have suggested this procedure.
Source: Documents and Speeches on the Constitution
By G. W. Choudhury (1967). Green Book House, Dacca (East Pakistan)
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