The Objectives Resolution & Pakistan’s Constitutions

As noted above, the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan passed the Objectives Resolution in 1949. This Resolution was designed, in part, to serve as a framework for the drafting of Pakistan’s first constitution, an exercise that proved agonizingly difficult.

It took nine years from Partition for the Second Constituent Assembly (the first was dismissed in 1954) finally to agree upon a draft of a constitution. To those advocating the adoption of an Islamic constitution, the resultant 1956 document was disappointing. Indeed, the Objectives Resolution was relegated to the status of a preamble. Similarly, the Objectives Resolution was included merely as a preamble in the 1962, interim 1972, and 1973 constitutions.

The question whether the Objectives Resolution as preamble provided a basis to challenge other provisions of Pakistan’s constitution was answered clearly and unequivocally in 1973 by the Supreme Court in State vs. Zia-ur-Rehman. In its decision the court ruled that the Objectives Resolution as preamble does not hold sway over the “normal written constitution.” From the decision of Chief Justice Hamoodur Rehman:

The Objectives Resolution of 1949, even though it is a document which has been generally accepted and has never been repealed nor renounced, will not have the same status or authority as the constitution itself until it is incorporated and made a part of it. If it appears only as a preamble to the constitution, then it will serve the same purpose as any other preamble serves, namely that in the case of any doubt as to the intent of the lawmaker, it may be looked at to ascertain the true intent, but it cannot control the substantive provisions thereof.

However, in 1985 the “restored constitution” of President Zia incorporated the text of the Objectives Resolution as Article 2-A. It is on the basis of this revision that the doctrine of the supra- constitutionality of the Objectives Resolution relies.


Source: Islamization of Laws and Economy: Case Studies on Pakistan, Charles Kennedy. Republished with permission.
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