The third Constitution of Pakistan was passed unanimously by the National Assembly on 10 April 1973. The unique thing about this Constitution was that all the major political parties agreed on the draft and signed it before it was presented in the National Assembly. The Constitution of Pakistan provides for parliamentary democracy in the country. It assures fundamental rights, provincial autonomy and local governance. It also paves the way for a sense of equality among the federating units by giving equal representation to all provinces in the upper house.
Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of Pakistan
Chapter 1 of the Constitution deals with the fundamental rights of citizens. Fundamental rights and democratic norms go hand in hand; some of the selected articles from this chapter are as follows:
Article 15: Freedom of movement, etc.
Article 15 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of movement and freedom to reside and settle in any part of the country. The freedom of movement is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen which can only be abridged or denied if the law imposes any reasonable restriction in the public interest.
Article 16: Freedom of assembly
The right to peaceful assembly protects the right of individuals and groups to meet in order to exchange ideas and information, to express views publicly and to hold peaceful protests. Article 16 of the Constitution guarantees the right to gather peacefully without arms. The law can only abridge this right in the interest of public order.
Article 17: Freedom of association
The right to the freedom of association is a fundamental human right and Article 17 of the Constitution protects the right of all citizens to form political parties, associations and unions. The People of Pakistan can exercise this right subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by the law in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, public order or morality.
Article 19: Freedom of speech, etc.
Article 19 of the Constitution talks about the freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Every citizen of Pakistan has the right to hold opinions, the right to express them, and the right to speech. The law can abrogate this right only in the interest of the glory of Islam and the integrity, security and defense of Pakistan, to maintain public order, decency and morality, or in relation to contempt of court and/or incitement to an offence.
Article 19-A: Right to information
The right to information (RTI) is the fundamental right of citizens, allowing them to access information from government and private bodies that receive public funds. RTI is based on the principle that information belongs to the people and public officials are only the custodians of the information. Article 19-A of the Constitution protects this right.
Article 25: Equality of citizens
All citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection by the law. Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees the equality of all citizens without any discrimination on the basis of gender. Despite that, keeping in view the state of women and children in the country, nothing in this article can prevent the state from making any special provision for the protection of women and children.
Article 25-A: Right to education
The provision of free and compulsory education is a fundamental human right. Article 25-A guarantees the provision of free and compulsory education to all children aged 5–16 years in such a manner as may be determined by the law.
Key Highlights of the Constitution Of Pakistan
- The constitution of Pakistan provides for the overarching guiding principles to run the affairs of the country
- According to the Constitution the official name of the country is ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’
- The preamble of the constitutions very clearly articulates that; sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone, and the authority to be exercised by the people of Pakistan within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust.
- It is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order Wherein the State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people;
- Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed;
- Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah;
- Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures;
- Wherein the territories now included in or in accession with Pakistan and such other territories as may hereafter be included in or accede to Pakistan shall form a Federation wherein the units will be autonomous with such boundaries and limitations on their powers and authority as may be prescribed;
- Therein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality;
- Wherein adequate provision shall be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and backward and depressed classes;
- Wherein the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured;
- Wherein the integrity of the territories of the Federation, its independence and all its rights, including its sovereign rights on land, sea and air, shall be safeguarded;
- So that the people of Pakistan may prosper and attain their rightful and honoured place amongst the nations of the World and make their full contribution towards international peace and progress and happiness of humanity :
- Now, therefore, we, the people of Pakistan,
- Cognizant of our responsibility before Almighty Allah and men;
- Cognizant of the sacrifices made by the people in the cause of Pakistan;
- Faithful to the declaration made by the Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, that Pakistan would be a democratic State based on Islamic principles of social justice;
- Dedicated to the preservation of democracy achieved by the unremitting struggle of the people against oppression and tyranny;
- Inspired by the resolve to protect our national and political unity and solidarity by creating an egalitarian society through a new order;
- Do hereby, through our representatives in the National Assembly, adopt, enact and give to ourselves, this Constitution.
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