chapter  9
20 Pages

Constitutional Structure

WithRobert C. Oberst, Yogendra K. Malik, Charles H. Kennedy, Ashok Kapur, Mahendra Lawoti, Syedur Rahman, Ahrar Ahmad

This chapter outlines the characteristics of Pakistan's several constitutional phases since independence. At partition in 1947, Pakistan was declared a free, sovereign dominion to be governed until a constitution could be formulated by the Constituent Assembly acting under the Government of India Act of 1935, as amended by the Indian Independence Act. Pakistan's first indigenous constitution was promulgated on March 23, 1956. The constitution was described as "federal in form and parliamentary in composition," but objective circumstances in the state made both claims dubious. Between 1977 and 1981, Pakistan did not have legislative institutions. In 1981, Zia appointed the Majlis-i-Shura, but its functions were wholly advisory to the chief martial law administrator. In November 1985 the National Assembly passed the Constitution Act, which further legitimized Zia's constitutional order. Parvez Musharraf's actions were a first in Pakistan's quite turbulent and creative constitutional history. In 2007 Benazir's death deeply challenged Musharraf's carefully orchestrated plans to extend his tenure as president.