Leaders' statement on Constitution
On 1 March 1962, President General Ayub Khan introduced
a new constitution. Martial Law was lifted on 8 June 1962 when the
new National Assembly met in Rawalpindi. The following statement
on the Constitution appeared in Pakistan Observer a few weeks
later, on June 25, 1962
Nine Leaders Statement
June 24, 1962
Signatories : Messrs Nurul Amin, Ataur Rahman Khan,
Hamidul Huq Chowdhury, Abu Husain Sarkar, Mahmud Ali, Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman, Yusuf Ali Chowdhury, Pir Mohsenuddin.
Rule by Martial Law has at last been ended. The political
gloom that enveloped the country for long 45 months has been partially
lifted. Door of progress towards a democratic system seems to be
in the process of opening but democracy has yet to come. The Constitution
promulgated by Field Martial Ayub Khan only holds out a hope but
does not usher it.
The main subject that agitates public mind deeply
today is again the Constitution of the country. This was the main
topic during the recent elections though the election was limited
to a small section of the people. Practically every candidate pledged
his support for getting a democratic Constitution. During the last
six weeks since election the volume of opinion for a workable Constitution
has increased considerably.
We will go failing in our duty if we do not express
ourselves on this vital question through the only means available
to us; we believe, in this, we share the opinion held by most in
The country can make real and a biding progress through
the method of evolution and by changes peacefully brought about.
This can happen only where free debate and free discussion are fully
A durable and abiding Constitution is the precondition
for national consolidation and stability.
We are convinced that no durable Constitution can
be adopted unless it is framed by the direct representatives of
We say so because: Whatever type of constitution
is drawn up, it has to be democratic both in form and spirit. In
a democracy, sovereignty belongs to the people. All authority must
emanate from the people. Anything to be stable and enduring must
in the first place be the expression of the will of the people.
That will must be a collective will, an organized will and such
as is freely expressed without any let or hindrance, direct or indirect.
A constitution is framed with a view that it endures
the vicissitudes of time, for as long as human intelligence and
foresight can see, capable of meeting all situations and contingencies
as can be predicted. Each and every constitution must have such
basic qualities as would make it permanent. Such basic laws cease
to be basic if there are stresses and strains within it which in
time are bound to blow it to pieces.
To have the character and quality of permanence of
the will and judgment of the entire community a set of laws possessing
such character alone can evoke the emotional loyalty of this generation
to come. Such loyalty and emotion are its strongest buttress and
its impregnable defence. A document which depends on external forces
other than the will of the people will have no chance of popular
support when in jeopardy.
The present constitution lacks the basic strength
stated above viz, popular consensus enshrined in basic laws framed
by the peoples representatives entrusted with that mandate;
and this without reference to its other merits.
Besides, the present document is framed on a distrust
of popular will, whatever be the justification put forward for that.
A body of 80 thousand electors have been provided for as the base
of the system in a population of more than 80 million.
The Assemblies created on the vote of these electors
have practically been given no power to decide anything. Nothing
can be done by these bodies unless the President agrees. Whereas
the President after the initial start, can rule without any agreement
of the Assembly both in the legislative and in the executive fields.
Experience of barely three weeks working have
already demonstrated that the present scheme is unworkable unless
it is radically remodeled and changed.
It is impossible to expect any genuine cooperation
between the Government and the Assemblies on the present basis.
The members will be tempted only to demonstrate their usefulness
by turning to acute and extreme critic of the Government as they
have neither any power of shaping directly the policy of the Government
nor its activities. The distrust will spread into the country rendering
Government more unpopular. Men of ability and independence will
hardly be attracted to join such Government and administration will
completely pass into the dead and soulless hands of bureaucracy.
We, therefore, urge that steps be taken to have a
special body elected as soon as possible to give the people of a
With all the materials on the subject that have accumulated
during the last 15 years, a Constitution can be hammered out as
will be suitable and will meet the peculiar problems of this country
in the course of six months at the longest.
In the circumstances of the above recommendations
we purposely do not enter into the question as to whether the Constitution
to be so framed should be of the Presidential type or Parliamentary
type. We are conscious that by far the largest volume of opinion
is for the Parliamentary form, the reasons are historical; our long
association and experiences of the working of this system predisposes
us to it.
Similarly we need hardly say much over the question
whether its should be federal or unitary in character. This question
is not very controversial either. More or less it is accepted by
all shades of opinion, that it has to be federal with a majority
of subjects being with the units particularly in view of our peculiar
The other burning topic to be dealt with is the glowing
imbalance in the economic progress in the two wings. We believe
that there is no want of good will in the people of West Pakistan
and East Pakistan for each other. Public men once entrusted with
real responsibility are bound to rise above all narrowness and are
sure to concentrate on developing the economy of the country as
a whole giving greater attention to the backward areas wherever
All narrow and parochial interests that are responsible
for the unequal progress of the two wings had free play as the people
had very little say in the policy-making of the state so long. Once
public opinion can assert itself through the elected representatives
all reactionary forces and vested interests will be in the retreat.
Much of the disparities between the wings have arisen out of the
facts that East Pakistan had rarely shared effective political power
in the countrys policy-making particularly on economic affairs
and scarcely has or had a say in the executive organizations responsible
for carrying out of the economic policies into practice.
In fact since independence all political powers were
concentrated into the hands of a small group of permanent services,
there having been not one single election in the country by which
the people could have a say in the countrys affairs.
The next important matter of consideration is what
needs be done during the interim period.
The good-will generated by the lifting of the Martial
Law needs to be strengthened by further statesmanlike acts. The
distance between the people and the organs of administration should
not be allowed to grow. It is a great responsibility for President
Ayub Khan and we have every hope that it is fully appreciated.
Pending the adoption of a permanent Constitution
by the method proposed by us, the Government of the country has
to be carried on.
But even in the interim period some essential changes
need be made in the document under which the Government is being
It is necessary that Fundamental rights as enumerated
in the 1956 Constitution be incorporated as such in the present
Constitution, and made justiciable, instead of enumerating them
as "principles of law-making" as in the present document.
This can be easily incorporated in the present document
either by Presidential Order or through the legislative process
as provided for in the Constitution.
What is more necessary is that the executive should
trust the Assemblies brought under existence under this Constitution.
All temptation, to fill the house with persons holding office of
profit should be checked. Otherwise whatever little freedom the
House have will vanish. We should not forget that trust begets trust.
Political Prisoners detained without trial should
be set as liberty to restore an atmosphere of confidence in the
country and all penal actions regarding politicians should be done
Political parties are the very breath of representative
democracies. As life without breath is unthinkable so the elective
system without the disciplined parties is unworkable. Party means
discipline. No representative body can function with a large body
of individuals without any kind of ties binding them and controlling
their conduct and behaviour within and without no obligation except
that of self-in it.
Source: Documents and Speeches on the Constitution
By G. W. Choudhury (1967). Green Book House, Dacca (East Pakistan)
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