Muhammad Umair Alam

Aug 26, 2017
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The book is one of the best accounts of ups and downs of the constitutional governments in Pakistan since from the year it gained independence from the British rule. The author has revised how the constitutions were framed and how they were defamed. How the democratically elected governments behaved and how the constitutional institutions were taken over by the coups. In the very first chapter of the book, the author has thrown light over the structure of the armed forces that the English proposed for the British India. This system had nothing to do with its effect on the future of constitutions but mere to make soldiers to fight against the threats haunting British rule there. Pakistan inherited the same system. Further, inefficiency of political government to take care of the contemporary problems made military the only receptive ear to the cry of people. Those who were supposed to vote in order to elect their representatives were made dependent on the shoulders of troops. Thus, people never cared for constitutional supremacy; what they wanted was immediate welfare and what they supported was this institution which healed their wounds in every calamity.

Unlike, India; Pakistan, without learning from the existing examples of coup d’états in Latin American countries, several states of Middle East and Asia Pacific region, invited military men to for active participation in defence and foreign affairs. Opening the doors of political realms for the guards of the territorial boundaries made them to believe that they were supposed to defend the ideological considerations of the nation as well. Since, from the moment when Governor General Ghulam Muhammad offered Ayub Khan to launch military coup in 1954 and later his inclusion in the political hierarchy till the death of Zia; the constitutional history of Pakistan was written by the personal political thoughts of the rulers instead of what was the reality and need of time. Every constitution framed was such as to strengthen a dictator’s grasp if it was a military rule and to facilitate the civilian autocrat if it was people’s government. Military gained popularity soon after installing every coup and it lost all its fame just in the last days of each. But, never was a constitution was seen having attained the public attention to the extent desired.

Institutions never enjoyed evolutionary growth in Pakistan. As far as the responsibility of this bitter history is concerned; everyone shares it, in accordance with this book. The Author has divided the history of coups in three phases, each one of them dealing with the complications of the three martial laws respectively.

As far as the attitude of lawyers was concerned particularly during the military regimes; they got only one job to do and that was to protest against the unconstitutional rules. They always opposed the coups primarily, due to the severe blow which their profession faced and secondly, the abrogation of the constitution which was no doubt the only thing they were totally dependent upon. Introduction of military courts and annihilation of constitution in the name of ‘October Revolution’ and some others; prevented legal system to work independently and to grow gradually.

To sum up, one can say that, military coups can be prevented in future if the civilian governments keep on ensuring good standard of life style to the people. Otherwise, amid bad performance and lack of popular support, the guards and their guns will be back to reveal their sympathy for the aggrieved masses and the decaying state. 

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