After the abrogation of the Constitution of 1962, Yahya Khan needed a legal framework to hold elections. In April and July 1969, he held discussions with prominent political party leaders to learn their point of view. Most of them asked for the revival of the Constitution of 1956 on the ground that its abrogation had been unlawful, and the country should return to the constitutional position prevailing on the eve of the 1958 coup. Yahya Khan initially agreed with this opinion, but had to change his stance due to opposition from the Awami League.
Not being well versed in constitutional affairs, he appointed a team to draft a new constitutional formula. He voiced his ideas about the constitutional issues in his broadcast address to the nation on November 28, 1969. The formula was officially issued on March 30, 1970, and is known as the Legal Framework Order of 1970. According to this order, One Unit was dissolved in West Pakistan and direct ballot replaced the principle of parity.
The National Assembly was to consist of 313 seats, including 13 seats reserved for women. Women were also allowed to contest the elections from general seats. The distribution of seats was to be as follows:
- East Pakistan: 162 general and 7 reserved seats
- Punjab: 82 general and 3 reserved seats
- Sindh: 27 general and 1 reserved seat
- N. W. F. P.: 18 general and 1 reserved seat
- Baluchistan: 4 general and 1 reserved seat
- Centrally Administered Tribal Areas: 7 general seats
The L. F. O. also defined the qualifications of people who would be allowed to contest in the elections. The Constituent Assembly was to stand dissolved if it was unable to frame the Constitution within 120 days. Actually, the Legal Framework Order was to act as an interim Constitution.
The primary function of the L. F. O. was to provide a setup on which elections could be conducted. It was then the duty of the elected Constituent Assembly to draft the Constitution of Pakistan. However, the L. F. O. defined the directive principles of State policy and made it clear that the future Constitution should not violate these basic principles. The directive principles demanded an Islamic way of life, observation of Islamic moral standards, and teaching of the Quran and Sunnah to the Muslims.
The Legal Framework Order also urged the Constituent Assembly to frame a Constitution in which Pakistan was to be a Federal Republic and should be named Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It also called for the preservation of Islamic Ideology and democratic values. The Constituent Assembly was also supposed to frame a Constitution in which all citizens of Pakistan were to enjoy fundamental human rights. Judiciary should remain independent from the Executive and provincial autonomy is protected.
The President was given the power to reject any Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly if the document did not fulfill the above-mentioned requirements. The President also had the power to interpret and amend the Constitution, and his decision could not be challenged in a court of law.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003