By Ijazul Haq

On June 8, during the course of hearing of the petitions against 18th Amendment, a commotion was created and an impression gathered that the famous and familiar “Objectives Resolution” of 1949, now forming the justifiable part of our Constitution had been tampered with. The Supreme Court was swift enough to term  it as “Criminal Negligence”, and   lauded  the present sitting Parliament for doing the good job in undoing and restoring the same. The Media devoted editorial comments to conclude the Zia era “will go down in history as the darkest phase for the Minorities”. The said, allegedly tampered clause relates to religious rights of the minorities and reads as:-

“Wherein the adequate provision shall be made for the Minorities “FREELY” (allegedly or supposedly now omitted) to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures”

Objectives Resolution has been in the Preamble of all of our Constitutions. It was made instead an operative or substantive part of the Constitution (Sec 2-A) through the RCO 14 of 1985. Since a lot of dust has been kicked up and since it allegedly happened during General Zia’s rule, much of the malice and maligning has been directed against his person.

Historically it was felt necessary that before the Constitution was drafted, the principles and ideals on which it was to be based and which were to guide its makers in their great task, must first be clearly defined. The Objectives Resolution was hammered out by our forefathers and enlightened visionaries. They were fully cognizant of the implications and arduous intricacies of Constitution making. In the backdrop of the multiplicity, Socialist, Communist, Atheist, Secularist, Capitalist Systems and Societies, the Crown-Church Rivalries, State v/s Religion, Pan-Islamism and Theological Philosophy, they had to strike a balance wherein Muslims of newly created Islamic State could order their lives according to the teachings of Islam. Where State and Religion both blended, could co-exist and be complementary. In this, at hand, they had the guidance from 22 points of Jayyed Ulema (Undisputed Certified Scholars) from all sects and masalik (school of thought). On Mar 12, 1949, the Constituent Assembly adopted a resolution with an overwhelming majority, moved by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan called the Objectives Resolution. It proclaimed that the future Constitution of Pakistan would not be modeled on European pattern but on the ideology and democratic ideals of Islam. In as much as the Holy Quran is the only true guide to man, both in his private and public life, in social and political affairs.  They endeavored to lay down the guiding principles based on Islam, Islamic teachings and Islamic tenets. They were conspicuously conscious that:-

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“Juda ho Deen Siyasat se, to reh jaati hae Changaizi”

Politics void of Deen is nothing but tyranny

It may interest many that the text of the Resolution that was officially adopted by the Constituent  Assembly for Constitution making is at variance with the Original text and was adopted after making some changes, more so the Sovereignty Clause. But that aside, So long there has been any major shift or change in effect, the words and phrases have been changing.

Being in some hindsight, knowledge of the happenings of that phase, though from a far distance, I was taken by surprise and tended to disbelieve. Curiously, I recalled and reflected.

No matter a democrat or Dictator, General Zia ul Haq was undoubtedly a Muslim Ruler, a Leader and a Statesman of standing in his own right. He initiated and impacted world events. Under him Pakistan was much secure, strong, stable and sovereign. His words and views were honoured at world capitals.  He believed earnestly and steadfastly in the viable universality of Islam as a Divine Religion. It is incomprehensible that he was NOT aware of the religious rights of Minorities in an Islamic State. He himself saw the emergence of Pakistan from close quarters. How could he have lost sight of the famous 11 August 1947 speech of Quaid e Azam to the first Constituent Assembly, wherein he declared

“You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques, or to any other places of worship……..”

How could he have compromised, colluded or connived on the narrow interpretation, meanings and connotations of “Freely” or No ‘Freely’. He had much bigger and broader a horizon,   vision and the worldview.  Wondering, I pondered and pondered!

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I had a hunch that there could NOT have been any deliberate move, a desire, intention or attempt to omit the word as alleged. What the Government of the day had to gain by this so-called tampering? Had it been so, it could have been replaced by any corresponding, comparable, compatible, a contrasting or a conflicting phrase to curtail or curb the religious rights. Had it been handiwork, hidden or ostensible, other similar words occurring therein could have been altered, omitted or replaced too! There is NO such evidence available. Yes, there can be one rare possibility or remote eventuality. An error, an overlook, an omission, a mistake, in drafting, composing, proof-reading, typographic or a printing mistake.

Rather than accusing and blaming some one outright we might consider the ground realities and the facts as they unfold and stand open. The removal of or omission of one odd word here or there makes no qualitative or substantive change /difference unless there is a policy shift. It is not so when legal and constitutional provisions and guarantees are still there with full force. While Annexing the Preamble, if the word “Freely” has been omitted through an oversight or a printing mistake, Article 19 about freedom of speech and expression, Article 20 mandating guarantees to every citizen the freedom to profess, practice and propagate religions and management of Religious Institutions very much exist. Article 25 of the Constitution lays down fundamental principles of equality of all citizens before the Law and equal protection of Law.  Intolerance and bigotry cannot be remedied by adding or deleting some parts or portions of the Constitution. We can achieve this through collective effort and good governance.

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How to, one wonders, conclude in idiomatic phrase!  Mountain out of molehill, Much ado about nothing, Storm in a cup of tea – or an avowed absurdity!

In lauding the sitting Parliament, yes, I do join also – but on a quite and completely different count. The 18th Amendment, with “freely” re-inserted, has empowered the people, the Parliament and the Prime Minister. For the first two empowered ones I am NOT quite certain. But the PPP Prime Minister is now certainly  powerful enough to get his Brother, his slapping son, and any FIR-named and nominated fraudster holding fake Degree, elected to the Parliament, through an intervention – armed or otherwise.  With pomp, powers, perks and privileges bestowed and restored, he should come of age now, as well. Taking time from necrology and obituaries of Party Patriarchy, he should care and cater for the Pakistanis  –  ruined and devastated, but barely breathing  as yet. Benazir Langar and Sasti Roti is too small a slice to feed many Millions hungry!

M Ijazul Haq is a former Minister for Religious Affairs, has been a member of the Parliament for almost two decades. He is frequently called on the TV Talk Shows for his expert opinions. He is a regular contributor to