The Making of a Constitution: Pakistan and the Question of Sovereignty

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The constitution of a country is its 'Supreme National Institution.' Hence, the creation of a constitution is a central process in institution making in a country, as the incentives and disincentives provided in the constitution are critical for the political, economic and social progress of the country, as clearly shown by Douglass North and others. Further, while the constitution is the rule-making framework, the 'grundnorm' is the consensus through which such a framework emerges. An assessment of both the grundnorm and the constitution of a country is therefore critical for an understanding of its trajectory of development, and can provide insight into the reasons behind the creation of weak and failing institutions.In the case of Pakistan, the first constitution took nine long years to formulate. The constitutional discussions clearly exhibited the contested nature of the state and the complications in creating strong institutions to support its development and growth. This paper analyses the concept of 'sovereignty' as presented in the Objectives Resolution of Pakistan presented to the Constituent Assembly in March 1949. The Objectives Resolution was the 'grundnorm' upon which all the constitutions of Pakistan (1956,1962 and 1973) have been based. An analysis of this concept will help us better understand the processes of institution making in Pakistan, the problems such an endeavour was fraught from since the inception, and the lasting effects it has had on the polity of Pakistan.

Dr Yaqoob Khan Bangash has research interests in the emergence of Pakistan as a post-colonial state, with broader interests in decolonisation, modern state formation, formation of identities, and the emergence of ethnic and identity based conflicts. Dr. Bangash’s DPhil thesis was on the accession and integration of the princely states in Pakistan; this thesis is currently a forthcoming book from OUP titled A Princely Affair: Accession and Integration of Princely States in Pakistan, 1947-55. Dr. Bangash is currently working on a monograph on the imagination of Pakistan as a country after its creation, using the debates of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (1947—56) as primary material. He is also the official historian of Forman Christian College, and is working on a history of the college, due to be published in 2016. He also regularly writes for The News, The Express Tribune and other newspapers and journals. Dr Bangash completed his BA from the University of Notre Dame, IN, USA, and his DPhil from the University of Oxford. Currently, Dr Bangash is head of Humanities and Director at the Centre for Governance and Policy at the Information Technology University, Lahore, Pakistan.


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Speakers: Faisal Devji, Yaqoob Khan Bangash