Pakistan was created under the Independence Act of 1947. The Act made the existing Constituent Assemblies, the dominion legislatures. These Assemblies were allowed to exercise all the powers, which were formerly exercised by the Central Legislature, in addition to the powers regarding the framing of a new Constitution, prior to which all territories were to be governed in accordance with the Government of India Act, 1935. At that time, a notification was issued in the Gazette of India, published on 26 July 1947 in which the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was given shape with 69 Members (later on the membership was increased to), including one female Member.
The first session of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was held on 10th August 1947 at Sindh Assembly Building Karachi. The foremost task before the first Constituent Assembly was framing the Constitution. On 7th March 1949, the Objectives Resolution, was introduced by Liaquat Ali Khan, and later adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 12th March 1949. On the same day, a Basic Principles Committee comprising of 24 Members was formed to prepare a draft Constitution on the basis of the Objectives Resolution. On 16th October 1951, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, mover of the Objective Resolution, was assassinated and Khwaja Nazimuddin took over as the Prime Minister on 17th October 1951.
The final draft of the Constitution was prepared in 1954. By that time, Muhammad Ali Bogra had taken over as the Prime Minister. However, just before the draft could be placed in the House for approval, the Assembly was dissolved by the then Governor General Ghulam Muhammad on 24th October1954. The Prime Minister was, however, not dismissed and was asked to run the administration, with a reconstituted Cabinet, until such time as the elections were held. Maulvi Tamizuddin, President of the Assembly, challenged the dissolution in the Sindh Chief Court, and won the case. The Government in return, went to the Federal Court, where the famous judgment was given by the then Chief Justice Muhammad Munir, according to which Maulvi Tamizuddin lost the case.
The second Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was created on 28th May 1955 under Governor General’s Order No.12 of 1955. The Electoral College for this Assembly was the Provincial Assemblies of respective provinces. The strength of this Assembly was 80 Members, half each from East Pakistan and West Pakistan. One of the major decisions taken by this Assembly was the establishment of West Pakistan (One Unit), with the aim to create parity between the two wings (East and West Pakistan). This Assembly also achieved its target by giving the first Constitution to the nation i.e. the Constitution of Pakistan 1956. Chaudhry Muhammad Ali was the Prime Minister at that time. The draft of this Constitution was introduced in the Assembly on 9th January 1956 and was passed by the Assembly on 29th February 1956. The assent was given on it by the Governor General on 2nd March 1956. This Constitution was enforced with effect from 23rd March 1956. Under this Constitution, Pakistan became an Islamic Republic.
On 5th March 1956, Major General Sikandar Mirza became the first elected President of Pakistan. The 1956 constitution provided for Parliamentary form of government with all the executive powers in the hands of Prime Minister. President was Head of the State and was to be elected by all Members of the National and Provincial Assemblies. He was to hold office for 5 years. The President was to act on the advice of Prime Minister, except where he was empowered to act in his discretion.
Under 1956 Constitution, Parliament was unicameral. Legislative powers vested in the Parliament, which consisted of the President and the National Assembly comprising 300 Members divided equally between East and West Pakistan. In addition to these 300 seats, five seats were reserved for women for each of the two wings, for a period of ten years: thus bringing the total membership of the House to 310.
However, in the absence of any law to control political parties and the problem of floor crossing, political instability perpetually ensued. Although the first general elections were scheduled for early 1959, President Sikandar Mirza abrogated the Constitution, dissolved the National and Provincial Assemblies, and declared Martial Law, on 7th October 1958. He appointed General Muhammad Ayub Khan, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, as the Chief Martial Law Administrator.
On 27th October 1958 General Muhammad Ayub Khan took-over as a second President of Pakistan. One of the first major steps taken by General Ayub Khan was the appointment of a Constitution Commission on 17th February 1960. The objective of this commission was to submit proposals, as to how best democracy can be strengthened and molded according to the country’s socio-political environment and Islamic principles of justice. The Commission submitted its report to the government on 29th April 1961. On the basis of this report a new Constitution was framed and given to the country on 1st March 1962. General elections under the new Constitution were held on 28th March 1962 and elections to the special seats reserved for women were held on 29th May 1962. The first session of the third National Assembly was held on 8th June 1962 at Ayub Hall, Rawalpindi.
The Constitution of 1962 envisaged a Federal State with Presidential form of government, with National Assembly at the centre and the Provincial Assemblies in the Provinces. The Legislatures, both at centre and in provinces were unicameral. All executive authority of the Republic of Pakistan, under the Constitution, vested in the office of the President. President appointed his Cabinet members who were directly responsible to him. The electoral system was made indirect, and the `Basic Democrats’, for both wings were declared Electoral College for the purpose of electing the Assemblies and the President. Basic democrats were 80,000 in number (40,000 from each East & West Pakistan). The total membership of the National Assembly was 156, one half of whom were to be elected from East Pakistan and other half from West Pakistan, also three seats were reserved for women from each province. The term of this Assembly was three years.
On 25th March 1969 the second Martial law was imposed and General Yahya Khan took-over as the President of Pakistan and Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA). He later issued a Legal Framework Order (LFO), under which the first ever general elections were held on 7th December 1970. This was the first Assembly elected on the adult franchise and population basis. It consists of 313 members, 169 from East Pakistan and 144 from West Pakistan including 13 reserved seats for women (6 were from West Pakistan and 7 from East Pakistan). Soon after the elections, due to grave political differences, East Pakistan seceded from West Pakistan and became Bangladesh. On 20th December 1971 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took over as the President of Pakistan as well as the first civil Chief Martial Law Administrator.
The first session of the National Assembly was held on 14 April 1972 at Islamabad, in which all 144 members from West Pakistan and two from former East Pakistan (Noor-ul-Amin and Raja Tridev Roy who had chosen to remain in Pakistan) participated. On 17th April 1972 an Interim Constitution was adopted by the National Assembly, which provided for a Presidential form of Government. Under this Constitution, the National Assembly was not to be dissolved earlier than 14th August 1973. The Interim Constitution dealt in detail with the distribution of powers between the Centre and the Provinces.
The Assembly also formed a Constitution Committee on 17th April 1972 to prepare the first draft for framing a Constitution. The report of the Committee was presented with a draft Constitution on 31st December 1972. It was unanimously passed by the Assembly in its session on 10th April 1973 and was authenticated by the President on 12th April 1973. This Constitution, called the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, was promulgated on 14th August 1973. On the same day, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took oath as the Prime Minister.
The 1973 Constitution provides for a parliamentary form of government where the executive authority of the state vests with the Prime Minister. From 1947 to 1973, the country had a unicameral system of legislature. Under the 1973 Constitution, Pakistan adopted bicameral system at the centre, called “The Parliament”, composing the President, the National Assembly and The Senate. Originally, the general seats of the National Assembly were 200 with additional 10 seats reserved for women, bringing the total strength to 210. The newly created Upper House i.e. the Senate had 63 members. Later in 1985 through a Presidential Order (P.O. No. 14 of 1985), seven seats were added to the general seats and ten to the reserved seats for women in the National Assembly. Ten seats were exclusively reserved for minorities to be filled through separate electorate system. Thus the total strength of the lower house reached to 237 members. Similarly the strength of Senate was also increased from 63 to 87. TW