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Recalling 12th March 1949

On 12th March, 1949 a significant event took place when the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan passed Objectives Resolution, embodying the main principles on which the constitution of Pakistan was to be based. It was a significant event not only in the history of Pakistan and the Islamic world, but also a significant and outstanding event in the history of political thought. The resolution provided a conceptual frame work which was the result of the cumulative experience and wisdom of the Muslims of South Asia. It clearly laid down the nature and objectives of an Islamic state and removed all doubts, if there were any, about the ideology of Pakistan.

Congruent with the thought of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, it reflected the views of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In his Allahabad address Allama Iqbal had stated that, ‘… religion is a power of utmost importance in the life of individual as well as states’. He raised a question: ‘Is it possible to retain Islam as an ethical ideal and to reject it a polity, in favour of national polities in which the religious attitude is not permitted to play any part?; and answered it himself saying that, ‘The religious ideal of Islam is organically related to the social order which it had created’. He concluded his address with a verse of the Quran, ‘Hold fast to yourself; no one who erreth can hurt you, provided you are well-guided’.

Similar views were expressed by Quaid-i-Azam. Addressing the lawyers of Karachi (25th January, 1948) he said: ‘I can not understand a section of the people who deliberately wanted to create mischief and made propaganda that constitution of Pakistan would not be made on the basis of Shariat … Islamic principles today are as applicable to life as they were 1300 years ago ….’ He further said: ‘Islam is not only a set of rituals, traditions and spiritual doctrines. Islam is also a code for every Muslim which regulates his life and his conduct, even in politics and economics and the like’.

Objectives Resolution was a great Ijtehad, Clearly specifying Islamic concept of sovereignty, it stated that, ‘sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty alone’. He has ‘delegated’ the sovereignty to ‘the state through its people’ for being exercised ‘within the limits’ prescribed by Him and is ‘a sacred trust’. It negated the Western concept of sovereignty of the people where man exploits man in the name of democracy. It closed the door for Kings, Dictators, Martial Law Administrators or Chief Executives. It clearly laid down that ‘the state shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people’.

The Resolution made obligatory for the state ‘to enable’ the Muslims to order their lives in ‘the individual and collective spheres’ according to the teachings and requirements of Islam. It defined Islam as whatever is ‘set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah’.

Giving essential consideration to minorities, it stated: ‘Adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to perform and practice their religion and develop their cultures’.

It envisaged a Pakistan which ‘may prosper and attain their rightful and honored place amongst the nations of the world and make their full contribution towards internal peace and progress and happiness of humanity’.

Winding up the debate on Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly, Liaquat Ali Khan emphatically stated; ‘I have not the least doubt in my mind that a day will come when people will be grateful, humanity will be grateful, to you and us for producing some thing which will bring peace and prosperity to mankind and which will save it from self destruction’.

So far we have collectively failed to live upto the expectations of the founding fathers. There is no ‘peace and prosperity’ in Pakistan, who can we do something for the mankind? When we are indulged in self destruction, how can we save mankind from destruction? Getting an ‘honored place’ amongst the nations of the world, seems a distant goal. Aren’t we one of the most wayward people?

What should then be our plan of action? There certainly is one way out. Iqbal rightly pointed out: ‘One lesson I have learnt from the history of the Muslims. At critical moments in their history, it is Islam that has saved the Muslims and not vise versa’. Quaid-i-Azam advised, ‘If we take our inspiration and guidance from the Holy Quran, the final victory will be ours’.

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