The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is perhaps the only country on the globe that had to formulate not one but four constitutions (1956, 1962, 1972, 1973). Ayub Khan’s 1962 version was centred around him which was imposed on the nation. It died with his exit in March 1969 to be replaced by a new Legal Frame­work Order (LFO). To move out of the martial law setup, the 1972 interim document was en­acted. The journey of constitutional rule can be reviewed in three phases, The initial struggle (1947 to 1956), the era of derailment (1958 to 1972), and the struggle for implementation (1973 but ongoing). Despite being a consensual agreement between the rulers and the ruled, there are elements within the state who refuse to accept it. Despite promises of much-needed change, the ground realities remain un­changed. The inertia is mind-boggling. In the words of my friend Dr Moeed Yousaf the former Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) we come up with the required plans which get stalled during implementation for rea­sons unknown. Theoretical frameworks exist but the ap­plication is missing. The Asian Tigers emerged once they were able to remove these roadblocks.

Recently the Police refused to register a First Informa­tion Report (FIR) as desired by Imran Khan the Ex-Prime Minister (PM). Under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Station House Officer (SHO) is duty-bound to record and register complaints of the aggrieved person, but not in the land of the pure. In Israel, even the sitting PM was being investigated by the Police. Benjamin Netan­yahu had to appear before investigators to answer ques­tions. The current PM of Pakistan’s legal counsel appeared before Justice Mathew Nicklin in London with a request for adjournment due to his official duties. The remarks of Jus­tice Nicklin were, “Everyone is equal before the law”. The proceeding of the case must be published to provide les­sons for our flawed legal system. No one is above the law.

There are around twenty articles covering fundamental human rights in the 1973 constitution. Unfortunately, not one of them has been debated or delivered to the people of Pakistan. No man-made system or document is flawless, there is always room for improvement but before that can happen, compliance must take place to ascertain its effec­tiveness. In case of non-compliance improvements cannot be incorporated. Pakistan has a chequered history of con­stitution formulation. Abrogation of the 1956 document was a conspiracy against the country which laid the foun­dations of its dismemberment. Every usurper that followed after the enactment of the 1973 version tried to disfigure it. Without due process, amendments were made at will which was not in the public interest. Zia openly showed his disdain and threatened to tear the document and trash it. Musharraf never understood the importance of the consti­tution, he justified his supra-constitutional acts for the pro­tection of state interests as if the two were divergent. An agreement between the rulers and the ruled has to be regu­lated, not one to be defied at will. When he was tried for se­dition under Article 6, he had to flee the country.

The electoral process has to be credible and foolproof which it has not been. In 75 years, only one election has been indisputable but then the critics blame it for the break-up of the republic. Every election since 1970 has been disputed including the one held in 2018. IK’s de­mand for free and fair elections as the way forward is the only viable option that should be adopted without delay followed by adherence to the 1973 document. Implemen­tation of the constitution is a challenge faced by the nation despite its enactment by a genuinely elected parliament around four decades ago. The Islamic Republic of Paki­stan is a constitutional democracy. The Constitution must be considered supreme with no detours. Those who cross the line must be punished under laid down the constitu­tional framework. Perhaps the FIR is the starting point of change? The SHO Wazirabad has a historic opportunity that should not be missed in the best national interests. The rule of law must prevail over the power of the gun. There can be no compromise on the constitution.

Dr Farid A Malik

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: fmaliks@hotmail.com