In his letter ‘A new constitution’ (July 13), S M Khalid sarcastically called for a new constitution in line with the present times. He was not serious in his demand but a building cannot remain stable if its foundations are laid wrong. The 1973 Constitution is one such wrong step of our politicians who laid a tilted foundation and claimed it to be their great achievement. After the 1971 war and losing East Pakistan, the need for adopting a new constitution was felt more because of the pressure of the prevailing environment rather than merit of the document itself. Going strictly by legal and constitutional practices and principles, the assembly which had passed this constitution had no mandate to do so. The members had been elected for the National Assembly of Pakistan which included members from East Pakistan too.
After the elections, the members from West Pakistan refused to attend the assembly proceedings called at Dacca, leading to a crisis which ultimately resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan. In West Pakistan, a constituent assembly should have been elected through fresh elections but that did not happen. The people who were responsible, to some extent, for the 1971 tragedy framed a flawed constitution which left many subjects, the concurrent list for example, undecided. The new constitution, despite its Article 6, could not prevent successive martial laws and military takeovers.
There is certainly a need for framing a new constitution. After the upcoming elections, the constituent assembly should work on a new, simpler constitution which addresses, among other issues, the need for forming smaller, equal provinces without assemblies, empowering local governments, enabling them to solve people’s problems at the local level.
Col (r) Nazir Ahmed