Restrict Objectives Resolution to the constitution’s preamble — as was the original intent
An editorial in Dawn, Karachi
02 Sep, 2010
DURING a Supreme Court hearing on Monday regarding challenges to the 18th Amendment, the Sindh advocate general, Yousuf Leghari, called for the deletion of the Objectives Resolution from the constitution, arguing that it had been incorporated in a dubious manner during a period of military dictatorship. It is difficult not to concur with Mr Leghari since the manner in which the Objectives Resolution currently forms a substantive part of the constitution has led to legal confusion. Originally the resolution, adopted in 1949 by Pakistan’s constituent assembly, formed part of the preamble to the constitution and could correctly be called a statement of aspiration in terms of constitution-making in the new state.
Being neither an act of parliament nor a law, the Objectives Resolution was symbolically important but legally marginal — since a preamble could not be regarded as law. However, through the 1985 Eighth Amendment the Zia regime, as part of its Islamisation drive, extended its effect beyond being part of the preamble and included it as an operative portion of the constitutional text through the insertion of Article 2A. This led to legal chaos, since clauses in the Objectives Resolution such as those relating to the delegation of divine sovereignty, which were designed as symbolic, are now the basis for adjudication.
Through the 18th Amendment, the government has restored a crucial portion to the Objectives Resolution that was deleted by the Zia regime. However, the time may now have come to revisit the need for the presence of the resolution as a substantive part of the constitution. Being a constitutional matter, it is outside the purview of the courts. However, the issue could be taken up by parliament and a debate initiated on restoring the Objectives Resolution to its pre-1985 status and restricting it to the constitution’s preamble — as was the original intent.