Those who defied the sovereignty of Pakistan

The first constituent assembly of Pakistan (then including the present-day Bangladesh) was inaugurated on 10 August 1947, and remained in existence till October 1954. The setting up of this assembly had been demanded by the Indian Muslims in the Delhi Resolution of April 1946, as an embodiment of the new state. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah described it as “a sovereign legislative body” in his famous speech in the inaugural session on 11 August 1947.

In less than seven years, the authority of this assembly had been repudiated by almost every school of thought in the new state, except one. For instance:

  • Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and the provincial branch of the Indian National Congress in NWFP (now KPK) passed a resolution in June 1947 demanding cessation and also questioning the authority of the constituent assembly of Pakistan on the ground that it did not comprise of good Muslims.
  • The Congress Party of Pakistan, comprising of those members of the Indian National Congress who were in the constituent assembly of Pakistan said in the inaugural session of the assembly that they were not happy with the birth of Pakistan. Later, in March 1949, they also said that the assembly did not represent the people. Some of their arguments amounted to saying, just like Abdul Ghaffar Khan, that the assembly did not have jurisdiction over religious matters.
  • Chaudhry Rahmat Ali arrived from Cambridge in April 1948 and announced through a newspaper that his aim was ‘a complete repudiation’ of the partition plan through which Pakistan had been created.
  • Religious scholars from various schools of though demanded in 1952 that the Ahmadis should be declared non-Muslims and barrsed from holding high offices. They refused to accept the statement of Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin that the authority to decide the matter rested with the constituent assembly.
  • Governor-General Gulam Muhammad changed the prime minister in 1953 without consulting the assembly.
  • Justice Muhammad Munir, with a co-author, produced the Munir Report published by the regime of Ghulam Muhammad in 1954. The issue of sovereignty was discussed at length without being linked directly to the constituent assembly, hence implicitly denying that the assembly was a soverign body.
  • Governor-General Gulam Muhammad dismissed the assembly in October 1954.
  • Justice Muhammad Munir, by then Chief Justice of Pakistan, upheld the action of Ghulam Muhammad through a verdict that stated that the constituent assembly had never been a sovereign body, nor Pakistan a sovereign state.

Two more personalities that are linked with this list, at least conditionally, are Syed Abul Aala Maududi and Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Maududi and two of his associates were placed under arrest from October 1948 to May 1950, after Maududi publically raised some objections against the war in Kashmir. In 1951, Faiz and his associates were charged for plotting a military coup by overthrowing the parliament and assassinating senior officials. However, the supporters of both Maududi and Faiz, separately, continue to question the truth of the accusations raised by the state against them.

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