Time to Recall the Quaid

By Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim

Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah - the undisputed leader of the Muslims of the subcontinent who single-handedly created Pakistan, could have, if he had so wished, given to the people of this country a constitution. But the Quaid was, above all, a democrat, a committed constitutionalist and for him the rule of law was an article of faith.

When asked what would be the constitution of Pakistan, his answer was that he had neither the power nor the intention of determining or dictating a constitution. He insisted that it was for the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan to deliberate the consti-tutional issues and finally adopt the constitution of Pakistan. He went on to state that the government in Pakistan would be representative and democratic. He called it a people's government and declared that the constitution and the government would be what the people have decided.

The Quaid was equally clear about the role of the bureaucracy in the governance of the country. While addressing the Civil Officers of Balochistan at Sibbi on February 14, 1948, the Quaid stated: "Pakistan is now a sovereign state, absolute and un-fettered, and the government of Pakistan is in the hands of the people. Until we finally frame our constitution which, of course, can only be done by the Constituent Assembly, our present provisional constitution based on the fundamental principles of democracy, not bureaucracy or autocracy or dictatorship, must be worked. You officers should realize that these are the principles which should be borne in mind."

Addressing the gazetted officers at Chittagong on March 25, 1948, the Quaid said:

"You have to do your duty as servants, you are not concerned with this political or that political party; that is not your business. It is the business of politicians to fight out their battle under the present constitution or the future constitution that may be ultimately framed. You, therefore, have nothing to do with this party or that party. You are civil servants. Whichever gets the majority will form the government, and your duty is to serve that government for the time being as servants, not as politicians. You do not belong to the ruling class; you belong to the servants."

In an informal talk to Civil Officers at Government House, Peshawar, on April 14, 1948, the Quaid-i-Azam said:

"You should have no hand in supporting this political party or that political party, this political leader or that political leader - this is not your business. Whichever government is formed according to the constitution and whoever happens to be the prime minister or minister coming into power in the ordinary constitutional course, your duty is not only to serve that government loyally and faithfully but at the same time fearlessly..."

While on the subject of the constitution and the oath under the constitution the Quaid had this to say while addressing the officers of the Staff College at Quetta on June 14, 1948:

"One thing more. I am persuaded to say this because during my talks with one or two very high-ranking officers, I discovered that they did not know the implications of the oath taken by the troops of Pakistan. But it is an important form and I would like to take the opportunity of refreshing your memory by reading the prescribed oath to you: 'I solemnly affirm, in the presence of Almighty God, that I owe allegiance to the Constitution and the Dominion of Pakistan and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully serve in the Dominion of Pakistan forces and go within the terms of my enrolment wherever I may be ordered by air, land or sea and that I will observe and obey all commands of any officer set over me.”

"As I have said just now, the spirit is what really matters. I should like you to study the Constitution which is in force in Pakistan at present and understand its true constitutional and legal implications when you say that you will be faithful to the Constitution of the Dominion. I want you to remember and if you have time enough you should study the Government of India Act, as adapted for use in Pakistan, which is our present Constitution, that the executive authority flows from the Head of the Government of Pakistan, who is the Governor-General and, therefore, any command or orders that may come to you cannot come without the sanction of the Executive Head. This is the legal position."

Is it too late to recall the Quaid? Has the Quaid become redundant in today's Pakistan? If the Quaid goes, what remains? And this is the cry of an anguished heart.

The writer is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

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