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Q.2. Discuss the salient feature and drawbacks of the Constitution of 1956

Constitution of 1956

The Constitution of 1956 was a lengthy document. It consisted of 234 articles divided into thirteen parts and six schedules. Some salient features of the constitution are as under:

1. Islamic Republic of Pakistan
The name of the country was adopted as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Objectives Resolution was included as Preamble in the constitution.

2. Federal System
The constitution provide for a federal system in the country. The powers were divided among the centre and the provinces. The subjects were divided into three lists; the Federal List, the Provincial list, and the concurrent list.

3. Unicameral Legislature
The Legislature was to consist of only one house. Both the wings of the country were given representation in the National Assembly. The National Assembly consisted of 300 members. 150 members were drawn from each wing. Thus the principle of parity was adopted.

4. Parliamentary System
Parliamentary system was adopted. According to it President was the Head of the State and the Prime MInister headed the government.

5. Independent Judiciary
The constitution provided for an independent judiciary in the country. A Supreme Court was constituted. It was headed by a Chief Justice. The Supreme Court, interpreted the constitution, advised the state whenever required and decided the issues arising among the governments.

6. The President
According to the 1956 Constitution the President was the head of the state. He was to be a Muslim of at least forty years ago. The tenure of his office was five years. In case of internal or external danger he could declare state of emergency in the country. He was authorized to appoint the Governors, the Judges of the Supreme Court, Auditor General and the Advocate General.

7. The Prime Minister
The Prime Minister was the head of the government. He was the leader of the Parliamentary group and was thus indirectly elected by the people. He was authorized to nominate his cabinet among the members of the National Assembly. The Cabinet was answerable to the Assembly.

8. Fundamental Rights
The Constitution of 1956 provided for the fundamental rights for the citizens of Pakistan.

9. Islamic Law
No law would be passed against the teachings of Quran and Sunnah and the existing laws would be made Islamic in character.

10. Language
Urdu and Bengali were made national languages.

Drawbacks of the Constition of 1956

1. A far-reaching devolution of power already a political reality, was not given a constitutional recognition and accepted as the basis, of the stale,

2. The federal list was substantially reduced and the provincial list greatly enlarged, transferring to the provinces among other subjects, control over mineral resources, recruitment of services, industries, internal communications and the tribal areas in the North-West Frontier. This was contrary to the practice of advanced countries where the federal principle has been used in building up a common nationhood through a strong Centre. The constitution in Pakistan instead of being an instrument for unity a country already divided by geography, sought to create two distinct political entities with maximum autonomy in the management of their affairs.

3. Regional loyalties were further consolidated by the introduction of parity of representation in the National Assembly. The Constitution was conceived in the belief that the political life of the country would always be tied to provincial moorings and will never rise to a higher plane of nationalism in which party affiliations would cut across the physical barriers. Parity was certain to foster parochial feeling equally in the region in whose favor it was to operate and in the region whose interests were adversely affected by it.

Fahim Patel

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