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January 13, 2018

Constitutional negligence that doesn’t bother govt, parliament, judiciary


January 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: There is one thing common in Pakistan’s executive, legislature and the judiciary- none of them is interested either in implementing the Islamic provisions of the 1973 Constitution or check their blatant violations.

At the time of the adoption of the 1973 Constitution, late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had taken the credit that there was no other constitution in any country of the world that has more Islamic provisions than the Constitution of Pakistan. But on ground despite the lapse of over 40 years most of these provisions continue to be violated or ignored. Although a lot of emphasis is given in public rhetoric on the importance of constitutional rule, neither the government nor Parliament nor the judiciary has taken any serious view of why the Islamic provisions are openly violated and not implemented.

The Constitution of Pakistan pledges to Islamise all laws of the country, asks for immediate eradication of riba/ interest, promises to create environment of the society as per the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, insists on teaching Arabic, pledges to eradicate social injustices and social evils including prostitution, gambling, obscenity etc. Instead of following these provisions, their violations are quite flagrant but ignored conveniently by all those who matter.

For example as per its constitutional mandate, the Council of Islamic Ideology has so far pointed out in its various reports that there are more than 700 laws which are un-Islamic but none of the Council’s report has been considered by Parliament so far.

Article 227 assures that all existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the injunction of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. It also says that no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such injunctions.

Article 228 provides for the setting up of Council of Islamic Ideology, which has been assigned the fundamental job of recommending changes in all laws to make them Islamic. The CII is also assigned to recommend to Parliament the ways and means of enabling and encouraging the Muslims of Pakistan to order their lives individually and collectively in all respects in accordance with the principles and concept of Islam as enunciated in the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

But despite this clear Constitutional command, none of the CII reports published during the last 40 years has been considered by Parliament so far. The country is named “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” by Article 1 of the Constitution. Article 2 declares Islam as the state religion of Pakistan. Article 2A of the Constitution makes the Objective Resolution, which is also the preamble of this document, substantive part of the Constitution.

The Objective Resolution while declaring that the sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to Allah alone, pledges that the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirement of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

Article 31 of the Constitution, which deals with the “Principles of Policy”, provides of Islamic ways of life. It says: 1) Steps shall be taken to enable the Muslims of Pakistan, individually and collectively, to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam and to provide facilities whereby they may be enabled to understand the meaning of life according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah. 2) The state shall endeavour, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan:- a) to make the teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamiat compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language and to secure correct and exact printing and publishing of the Holy Quran; b) to promote unity and the observance of the Islamic moral standards; and c) to secure the proper organisation of zakat, usher, auqaf and mosques.

The Article 31 also remained ignored. Instead the environment being created is in violation of the constitution. Article 37(g) promises that the state shall take necessary steps for promotion of social justice and eradication of social evils and shall prevent prostitution, gambling and taking of injurious drugs, printing, publication, circulation and display of obscene literature and advertisements. This provision is also greatly ignored and blatantly violated.

Article 37(h) says that the state shall prevent the consumption of alcoholic liquor other than for medicinal and, in the case of non-Muslims, religious purposes. But the liquor sale is also widespread. Interestingly a minority MNA moved to Supreme Court against the liquor sale as insisted that no religion allows it but the judiciary did not rule in his favour.

Article 38(e) pledges that riba/interest shall be eliminated as early as possible but it continues to be the fundamental part of country’s banking and economic system. In this case too, the government had challenged a court case against riba in 1992 while the judiciary itself has been responsible for pending the case for the last 25 years.

Article 62, which provides for qualifications for Muslims member of the Senate, National Assembly and provincial assemblies envisages: “62 (d) he is of good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic injunctions; e) he has adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practices obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstains from sins; f) he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law; he has not, after the establishment of Pakistan, worked against the integrity of the country or opposed the ideology of Pakistan.”

Although the judiciary used the above provisions to disqualify some of the members of Parliament, none of the state institutions ever tried to introduce a mechanism for the true implementation of these constitutional provisions.

Oath of almost all the key public office holders including the president, prime minister, federal ministers, ministers of states, members of Parliament, chairman and deputy chairman Senate, speaker and deputy speaker, governors, chief minister and provincial cabinet members including non-Muslims makes it mandatory for them to pledge that they will strive to preserve the Islamic ideology which is the basis for the creation of Pakistan. Many of them speak against the Islamic ideology and advocate for “secular Pakistan” but none of them have been disqualified for this reason as yet.

The Constitution also promises that adequate provisions shall be made for the minorities to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures but here too not much is done.

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