Constitution-Making in Pakistan during 1950s: Causes of Delay

  1. First, the Muslim League was completely routed by a hotchpotch coalition of political parties in the provincial elections held in the East wing in March 1954. The new government was dismissed soon after the assumption of power in East Pakistan
  2. Second, the National Assembly passed a bill in Sep 1954 which made Governor General (GG) act on the advice of the PM. It was also made mandatory for GG to appoint PM a member of the assembly who enjoys the confidence of the majority.
  1. Form of State: While the political elite of West Pakistan was in favour of a Unitary form of state with a unicameral legislature those from the Eastern wing wanted it to be a Federal form of state with a bi-cameral chamber and maximum provincial autonomy
  2. Form of Government: Same as above-West wing politicians pushing for a Presidential form of government while those belonging to the eastern wing wanted the government to be a Westminster-style Parliamentary democracy.
  3. Representation Formula: East Pakistan being a populous wing wanted more seats in the lower chamber based on population while the Western politicians wanted some sort of parity between the seats to be allocated to both wings. This and the language issue were the two most contentious ones.
  4. Role of Religion: Not a big issue to declare Islam as a state religion but there were heated discussions on the nature of Islam and the specifics which divided the whole nation
  5. Language Issue: Along with the representation formula, it was the most contentious issue with several dimensions. Urdu as the sole official language of the federation as well as the provinces vs Urdu for the center and provincial languages in the provinces on the one hand while Urdu and Bengali as the state languages on the other
  1. Constitution-making in Pakistan: Causes of delay



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Shahid Hussain Raja

Shahid Hussain Raja

Retired Federal Secretary, Government of Pakistan/Author/Independent Consultant- Public Policy & Governance Reforms