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President Ayub's Speech

The following broadcast was made before Ayub signed the Constitution. It was also handed over to the editors of all Pakistani newspapers along with copies of the Constitution and the Report of the Constitution Commission when they met the President at Karachi on the evening of February 28, 1962.


President Ayub's Speech

Announcing the Constitution of 1962

My fellow countrymen, As-salam Alaikum

I want your attention to what I am going to say as it vitally affects your future and that of the country. The subject-matter of my talk is our future Constitution.

On the 8th October 1958, I gave a radio talk and made certain solemn promises. God has been kind in enabling me to fulfil most of those. Amongst the remaining, the most important is the one relating to the Constitution. In this connection I used the following terms:

"Let me announce in unequivocal terms that our ultimate aim is to restore democracy but of the type that people can understand and work. When the time comes your opinion will be freely asked. But when that will be, events alone can tell. Meanwhile, we have to put this mess right and put the country on an even keel."

Today, I consider myself fortunate to be in a position to say that the Constitution is now ready and I am now going to promulgate it.

As you know, a great deal of thought and effort has gone into the collection, examination and formulation of proposals leading to the decisions incorporated in the new Constitution.

On the 17th February 1960, the Constitution Commission of Pakistan, composed of eminent men from various walks of life, was appointed to advise how best to secure a democracy adaptable to changing circumstances and based on the Islamic principles of justice, equality and tolerance; the consolidation of national unity; and a firm and stable system of government.

After examining 6,269 replies to its questionnaire and interviewing 565 persons in both wings of the country, the Commission submitted its report on the 6th May, 1961.

Since its submission, the Report has been examined in every possible detail by several committees appointed by the Cabinet and also by the Cabinet as a whole. The decisions as finally drafted are the outcome of all these exhaustive examinations, and, represent, as far as humanly possible, the results of mature and honest assessment of the lessons of our past, the experience of the last 3 years and the requirements of the foreseeable future.

I am grateful to all those who helped me in evolving this scheme. My special thanks are due to ex-Chief Justice Mr. Shahabuddin, the Chairman of the Constitution Commission, who produced an excellent report, which will be published and which served as the working draft. I am also grateful to Mr. Manzur Qadir, who took infinite pains in helping me in the production of the final draft. I have come across very few people who can surpass the sincerity, integrity and patriotism of these two.

The Constitution is being published in English, Bengali and Urdu in simple language and in large numbers for wide distribution and understanding. People can be expected to defend it only when they understand its meaning and spirit. I hope most of you will acquire copies in due course and study it in full. Here, I shall only attempt to give you its outline and salient points:

(1) Our aim is to have representative institutions based on the will of the people. They shall be the final arbiters of who shall govern them and how. In other words, people shall have the right to hire and fire their rulers. This is basic.

(2) There will be a President, a Central Legislature and a Legislature in each Province, headed by an appointed Governor. Their term will be 5 years.

(3) The above will be elected by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of Basic Democracies, who in turn will be elected by universal adult franchise.

(4) The judicial power has been vested in the Supreme Court in the Centre and the High Courts in the two Provinces.

(5) There will be only one list of subjects of national character, which will be the exclusive concern of the Centre. All other subjects will be left to the Provinces. However, the Centre would be able to legislate for in the Provincial field where matters relating to Security, Coordination of Economic Development and Coordination between the two Provinces is involved. Such occasions should be rare. Even in these cases, execution will rest with the Provinces. The underlying theme is that what can be done on a Provincial basis ought to be done on that basis.

(7) Fundamental rights have been made the principles of law-making and every care taken that the law-makers observe them.

(8) Since it is in the interest of the country that proper men are elected for the Presidentship and the Legislatures, the State shall give all facilities to candidates to project themselves to the voters and the voters to assess the merits of the candidates.

(6) The principles of policy have been included in the Constitution and the responsibility of observing them has been placed upon each organ of the State and on each individual discharging any function on behalf of the State, so far as they concern him. To enable Muslims to lead their lives according to the teachings of Islam, to safeguard the rights of the minorities, to promote the interests of backward areas, to attain balanced development of all parts of Pakistan, to observe parity between the two Provinces, are some of the principles of policy. These principles of policy are by and large substantially the same as the Directive Principles in the last Constitution.

(9) Political parties are banned unless allowed for by an act of the National Assembly.

(10) In order that Muslims are enabled to lead their lives in accordance with the teachings of Islam, provision has been made to set up an "Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology." This body will consist of eminent men in theology, law, economics, administration, etc. and will be supported by the Islamic Research Centre. Whenever in doubt. Legislatures and the President will consult this body to make sure that laws conform to the requirements of Islam and observe the fundamentals of law making. The advice of the Council will be made public.

(11) The Constitution will be capable of amendment if 2/3 of the National Assembly and the President agree. 3/4 majority of the House will over-ride the President's veto, unless he refers the matter to a referendum or dissolves the Assembly and seeks re-election himself.

(12) This, in brief, is the outline of the Constitution. I shall now touch on each institution.

President

(13) The President shall be a Muslim and will be head of the Executive Government. He will appoint Ministers to help him discharge his duties. Those Ministers appointed from the Legislature shall resign their seats from the House. The Ministers shall, however, have the right of attending the House without the right of vote. To assist the Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries from amongst the Legislature will be appointed. They will retain their membership of the House.

(14) The bills passed by the Assembly would require the assent of the President. The President's veto can however be over-ridden by 2/3 majority of the Assembly.

(15) When the Assembly is not in session, the President can make Ordinances for not more than six months. These will lapse after six months unless passed by the Assembly as laws.

(16) The President can dissolve the Assembly under certain circumstances, in which case he too will have to seek re-election for continuance.

(17) The President can be impeached by the Assembly by 3/4 majority for misconduct. He can be similarly removed for physical or mental incapacity. However, to prevent irresponsible moves of this nature, the movers will cease to be members of the National Assembly if they fail to get the support even of 1/2 of the members.

(18) In the event of the President becoming a casualty or during this absence from the country or removal, the Speaker of the National Assembly will officiate. A convention will be established that if the President is from West Pakistan, the Speaker will be from East Pakistan and vice versa.

(19) The President can be elected only for two terms unless specially permitted by the joint session of the members of the National and Provincial Assemblies. There is also a provision for screening of the Presidential candidates by these bodies. Only a limited number will be allowed to contest to ensure that whoever wins the elections would be an appropriate person.

National Assembly

(20) The National Assembly will consist of 150 general members, 75 from each Province. They will be elected by the elected members of Basic Democracies. In addition, there will be 6 women members, 3 from each Province. The electoral college for them will be the Provincial Assemblies. This has been done to save them having to cover vast constituencies. In addition, women can also contest from general seats if they wish.

(21) The National Assembly is the source of law.

(22) In order to reduce chances of conflict between the Assembly and the President and to prevent paralysis of the administration and to ensure continuance of on-going schemes, it has been laid down that the previously passed budget shall not be altered without the permission of the President, and new taxation shall not be levied without the consent of the National Assembly. This is based on the theory that the President is finally responsible to the country for administration and the members of the National Assembly represent the feeling of the people who have to pay taxes.

(23) To check misconduct on the part of the members of the House, the Speaker will have the power to refer such cases to the Supreme Court for disciplinary action.

(24) Because of the sad experience of political parties in the past and the fact that if allowed to re-emerge today they cannot be any different from what they were before, and the fact that the Martial Law has to stay until the National Assembly takes over, the coming elections will be held on the basis of personal merit. The criterion will be the candidate's faith in Pakistan, its ideology and his known personal conduct and behaviour. Would he help in building a united, disciplined and stable Pakistan or not? To my mind, there can be no criterion better than this to judge a person's worth. Certainly no party manifesto can be better than this.

(25) In our case, political party activity only divides and confuses the people further and lays them open to exploitation by the unscrupulous and demagogues. So, I believe that if we can run our politics without the party system, we shall have cause to bless ourselves, though I recognise that like-minded people in the Assemblies will group themselves together. That is not serious, but what is dangerous is for these groups to have tentacles in the country. However, should this experiment prove unworkable, which I don't believe, then the party system could be revived only with the permission of the National Assembly. This will ensure that the parties are limited in number and have respectable and healthy national programmes.

(26) It is sometimes argued that the canvassing for candidates, and especially for the Presidential candidates, will become difficult without the assistance of a party organization. That undoubtedly is a problem and that is why the Constitution has provided that the State shall assist the candidates for projecting themselves to the electoral college.

Provincial Governors

(27) They will be appointed by the President and shall be responsible to him for the good government of the Provinces in accordance with the Constitution. They too will appoint Ministers with the concurrence of the President. The relationship of the Governors and their Ministers with the Provincial Assemblies will be similar to that obtaining between the President, his Ministers and the National Assembly. They can appoint Parliamentary Secretaries as in the Centre. In order to prevent abuse, the number of Parliamentary Secretaries, both at the Centre and Provinces, shall not exceed the number of Departments.

Provincial Assemblies

(28) Each Assembly shall consist of 150 general members. In the West Pakistan Assembly, 40 per cent of the members will be elected from the old Punjab and Bahawalpur and the remaining 60 per cent from the other areas. This arrangement will obtain for 10 years or two normal election periods. In addition, there will be 5 women members in each Assembly. They will be elected by their respective Provincial Assembly.

Judiciary

(29) The responsibility for ensuring that no law is made which is contrary to fundamental human rights has been placed upon the law-makers. Principles have been enunciated for the law-makers which they are under obligation to observe. The first of these principles is that no law shall be made that is repugnant to Islam. The second is that all citizens shall be treated alike in all respects. There are 15 such principles of law-making set out in the Constitution. In case the Centre or the Provincial Legislature is in doubt whether a provision in any proposed law is or is not repugnant to Islam or at variance with any other principle, it has been made possible for it to refer the question for advice to a body set up under the Constitution to be called the "Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology." A position has thus been brought under which the functions of the Courts will be to take notice of and to rectify breaches of the law. Any person who has not been treated in accordance with law or who is treated otherwise than in accordance with law will have the right to go to a Court with his grievance whether it is against a private person, a public servant, and official agency or a department of the Government. No Court, however, shall be at liberty to refuse to enforce a law because it is of the opinion that the law is not in accordance with the principles of law-making The relevant opinion for this purpose is the opinion of the law-makers and nobody else.

Fundamental rights have thus been secured in the Constitution without the complication of all laws never reaching the stage of complete certainty because they remain perpetually susceptible to challenge in a Court of Law. Though it is frequently said that this challenge guarantees rights of the citizens, in actual practice it is usually only a rich litigant who can afford to engage the best available legal talent to throw out a challenge to a law for getting rid of something that operates to his disadvantage, irrespective of whether it is to the advantage of the community at large or not, and frequently holds up indefinitely the implementation of beneficial schemes. The scheme adopted in the Constitution brings our position on the same lines as the position existing in England.

(30) Judiciary will have its own built-in arrangement for maintaining internal discipline.

Service Rights

(31) Service rights have been guaranteed to public servants in the usual way. In respect of dismissal, removal, reduction in rank, stipulated pension and the age of superannuation, a public servant has been given the right to go to the High Court in a jurisdiction which up to now has been called Writ Jurisdiction. In respect of other matters, however, like leave, transfer, promotion, etc., the public servant is only under the disciplinary control of a departmental nature, but it has been provided that he must have the right to at least one departmental appeal.

(32) That completes the broad description of the institutions. I shall now draw your attention to the salient points of the Constitution and the reason why they have been adopted.

(33) We have adopted the Presidential System as it is simpler to work, more akin to our genius and history, and less liable to lead to instability-a luxury that a developing country like ours cannot afford. The other alternative was the Parliamentary System. This we tried and it failed. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with it. The trouble is that we have not yet attained several sophistications that are necessary for its successful operation. For it to work you need democratic institutions right down to villages, trade unions and co-operatives on large scale to give people training in the spirit of give and take, and dispassionate consideration of problems. You need much higher level of education, prosperity, public spirit and integrity. Above all, you need really cool and phlegmatic temperament, which only people living in cold climates seem to have. Also it requires long period of probation. For instance, the British took 600 years of trial and tribulations to reach this stage. Looking around the world you notice that this system has only worked successfully in Britain and the Scandinavian countries. Elsewhere it has not taken real roots. Even France which gave birth to liberal philosophy has not been able to work it. So don't let us kid ourselves and cling to cliches and assume that we are ready to work such a refined system knowing the failure of earlier attempts. It will be foolhardy to try it again until our circumstances change radically.

In that system, the Chief Executive-the Prime Minister-must have the support of a majority of the members of the House, at all times. If Parliamentary traditions have taken root in a country, any member of the House, who withdraws his support, after pledging it, will have to account for it before the bar of public opinion.

In our conditions, however, there is no mechanism which will automatically operate to prevent members from selling their support or from charging a price for continuing to give support. The whole process of Government thus becomes liable to be subverted in the first instance, to placating those members without whose support the government in power would fall. The only insurance against such an eventuality in our conditions is to release the Chief Executive from the obligation of having to be sustained artificially so as to enable him to get on with the functions entrusted to him for the benefit of the people at large.

(34) Our system of Basic Democracies is probably unique. It is already breeding pride, hope, sense of participation and responsibility in large numbers. of people and laying a real base for a democratic society. We should do all we can to nurse it. In addition, the elected members from amongst them will be called upon to act as an electoral college as described already. In other words, the broad masses of people elect the electoral college, who in turn elect National and Provincial institutions. The reason for this is simple. We are recognizing an obvious truth that the ballot can only produce a true answer if those exercising it are asked questions in level with their horizon and knowledge. If this is done, by and large the answer will be right. The election to Basic Democracies has proved it and I have no doubt that, Insha-Allah, the general election will confirm it. Whilst saying this, I am not claiming that some voters will not go wrong, but in human affairs a 100 per cent result is unrealistic to expect, especially where a society has not yet matured. Anyhow, the voters will be less liable to be exploited and misled in this system than in direct elections where they were driven as cattle to polling booths. In fact, the direct elections amongst us were far less direct than the system I am now proposing. In that all you had to do was to get hold of or fix a few leading people, and the rest then followed them. This won't happen and can't happen in my system as everyone of these voters is a person of substance in his community. Another reason for adopting the indirect election system is that if we were to have direct adult franchise, the elections would be delayed for another year or two for preparing fresh electoral rolls as the present ones are some years old. Besides, that system of elections is far too expensive. It was estimated that the 1958 general elections would have cost the country around six crores of rupees. Can this country afford such a waste?

While saying this, I am conscious of the fact that some sections of intelligentsia and those with vested interests may have cause to complain. I do not see any reason why a suitable formula cannot be evolved later which will give them a feeling of full participation. The need of today, however, is that the Constitution should be brought in quickly, and that can be done only if the electoral college of Basic Democracies is used for the elections. Any innovation or addition at this stage will be time-consuming and will delay the Constitution, which obviously is undesirable from every angle.

I might also add that in future there will be no nominations to Basic Democracies. Consequently, their number will increase from 80,000 to 1,20,000, unless it is decided to enlarge it still further.

(35) Friction between the executive and the legislature often arises over money bills with damaging effects on the administration and development projects. Our Constitution, by dividing the budget between committed and fresh taxation and making the President dominant in one and the legislature in the other, will obviate or eliminate unnecessary clashes. I would not be a bit surprised if this formula is being tried for the first time.

(36) The wish to get good people elected is universal, but in actual fact the community makes no real attempt to help them. In our Constitution, the State will assume the responsibility of helping candidates project themselves before the electorate, who must, of course, remain free to elect as they like.

(37) In a Presidential System so much depends on choosing the right man as the President. So the community must make certain that only suitable candidates are allowed to contest. In our case, a joint session of the National and Provincial Assemblies will screen candidates. Normally three candidates will be allowed to contest unless the sitting President is also eligible and willing to contest, in which case the number will be four.

(38) We are an ideological State and the basis of our nationality is the ideology of Islam. Whilst making material progress, we naturally wish to do so under the umbrella of Islamic spiritual and moral values. To achieve this is a continuous process and affects every aspect of life. We have therefore provided an organization called the "Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology." This body will consist of experts from many fields and it will be backed by eminent research scholars. Whilst making laws, the President and the Legislatures have been enjoined to seek their advice for giving them an Islamic bent. By this process and the fact that religious education has been made compulsory up to 8th class, the curriculum in religious institutions in general and the Auqaf institutions in particular is being revised and balanced, we hope to attain our goal in due course in a well considered and sound fashion.

(39) Notice the processes laid down for the amendment of the Constitution. The variation takes into consideration the importance of different parts. Unless the President and the National Assembly agree on 2/3 majority, the process becomes more difficult so as to prevent changes being made without due consideration and in haste. In cases requiring major structural changes, it may even be necessary to refer the matter to people for a referendum. My view about the Constitution is that it should not be too easy to change, yet changes should not be made too difficult. This is the only way stability, natural evolution and freedom from revolutions can be ensured. I believe also that in a society like ours, which is launching forth on wide education, industrialization and modernization and is becoming dynamic, it would be necessary to look into the Constitution every twenty years or so to make it conform to social, economic and political changes. I would commend this for the consideration of future generations. Meanwhile, this Constitution can only stand as a whole. If any attempt is made radically to change any of its main elements, the rest can't stand. This must be understood clearly.

(40) This Constitution expects positive results from the institutions. Having created them, it expects them to function freely within the law and produce results. It also provides built-in disciplinary arrangements in order to prevent abuse of law and transgressions and breakdown. In other words, the Constitution gives free field to do good, but it will not feel shy to curb evil. It embodies a blending of democracy with discipline, the two pre-requisites to running a free society with stable government and sound administration.

This in brief is the philosophy behind some of the salient points in the Constitution. These salient points are my humble contribution and are based on long association with the administration at the highest level, detailed knowledge of the country and the people, wide study, deep and prolonged thought and a burning desire to help the people in building the country into a sound, vigorous, progressive and powerful State. I believe in every word of this Constitution and have complete faith in it. I believe also that the country can reach its cherished goal by following it. I therefore commend it to you all with fervent prayers that God in His infinite mercy grant us wisdom, courage and faith to work the Constitution truly and loyally for our betterment and the betterment of future generations and above all for vindication of faith and belief of those who under the great leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Mohamed Ali Jinnah struggled so hard and suffered so much for the creation of Pakistan. Amen! Pakistan Paindabad.


Source: Documents and Speeches on the Constitution of Pakistan
By G. W. Choudhury (1967). Green Book House, Dacca (East Pakistan)


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