By Shamim Masih
January 02, 2014
Internationally everyone is turning to interfaith dialogue and agreeing to accept other faiths. Therefore the rigid Islamic Jihadist attitude must not be imposed
Through the Christmas celebrations of 2013, Pakistan People’s Party’s co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari claimed that he wanted to see a Christian Prime Minister in Pakistan within his lifetime. He wished Merry Christmas to every Christian worldwide and particularly to Pakistani Christians. It is mentioned in the constitution of our country that a non-Muslim cannot be the President or the Prime Minister of Pakistan. But there are some facts that I am providing here about the section of the constitution that states that the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan need to be practising Muslims.
Pakistan came into being in 1947 under Section 8 of the Indian Independence Act, 1947 and the Government of India Act, 1935. After nine years the initial document served as the Constitution of 1956. The composition of Pakistan’s constitution provided a definition of a Muslim, which states that a Muslim is someone who believes in the unity and oneness of Allah, in absolute and also unqualified finality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and does not believe in or recognises any prophet, religious reformer or any person who claims to be a prophet after Muhammad (PBUH). There was no bar of religion upon the person holding the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly. But should the president resign from his position or a vote of no-confidence is tabled against him or her, then in line with the constitution, the Speaker would be the President till elections for the new President.
Under these special circumstances, a non-Muslim could easily get the opportunity to be the President of Pakistan. No restriction about religion or gender applies to the posts of provincial Governor or Chief Minister. During the tenure of the first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, the leading members in the government, of which there were quite a few non-Muslims, especially from East Bengal, many received prominent posts.
Non-Muslim associates expressed grave apprehensions regarding their situation and role in the new order of things. The Hindu members in the constitutional set up argued that this was not in line with Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s view. Sris Chandra Chattopadhyay claimed that the Objectives Resolution was against Quaid-i-Azam’s principles. Birat Chandra Mandal expressed that Jinnah had, “unequivocally claimed that Pakistan would be a secular nation”. Bhupendra Kumar Datta proceeded to go a step further by saying that this resolution would not have seen the light of day in Quaid’s time. Even so, the Muslim scholars along with a large portion of the people of Pakistan were of the view that this was exactly what Quaid-a-Azam wanted and that it was an excellent step forward towards building the constitutional heritage of Pakistan. Additionally, they argued that minorities had been provided equal rights and there was no compulsion upon them to convert to Islam.
In October 1958, President Iskander Mirza abrogated the constitution. Soon afterwards Ayub Khan deposed Mirza and declared himself President. The 1973 constitution was drafted by the government of Bhutto and approved by the legislative set up on April 10 and ratified on August 14, 1973. Unlike the prior constitutions of 1956 and 1962, the 1973 constitution cannot be replaced. Constitutional efficiencies are added to it, altering its impact. It was added that a Muslim could end up being the President or maybe the Prime Minister of Pakistan. No legislation repugnant to Islam should be designed and the present legislation shall in addition be Islamised.
No restriction about religion or gender was imposed on any post, up to the designations of provincial Governors and Chief Ministers. The Amendment in 1974 declared the Ahmadiyya community non-Muslim, along with their leader, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. This was ZA Bhutto for Pakistan. Even though there was no restriction on these posts, yet in this Islamic atmosphere neither a Christian nor any other minority group member was able to become a provincial Governor or Chief Minister.
Internationally everyone is turning to interfaith dialogue and agreeing to accept other faiths. Therefore the rigid Islamic Jihadist attitude must not be imposed any more. This is simply not the constitution of Pakistan but a constitution connected to the Mullahs. How could the young Bilawal Bhutto Zardari even think about a Christian Prime Minister? This is just a way to get the sympathies of the Christian community for his party.