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Explaining Article 2 of the Constitution; Objectives Resolution and Islam as the State Religion

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Article 2 of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 declares Islam to be the State religion. A state religion (also called a religious state or official religion) is a religion or creed officially endorsed by a sovereign state. A state with an official religion (also known as an ideological state), while not secular, is not necessarily a theocracy. State religions are official or government-sanctioned establishments of a religion. Still, the state does not need to be under the control of the religion (as in a theocracy). It also does not mean the state-sanctioned religion is necessarily under the state’s power. The official religion of Pakistan is Islam, and all laws of the land must be under the injunctions of Islam. However, Pakistan is a federal republic, not a theocracy.

Pakistan was created as a Muslim state; therefore, religion has a distinct role in its political evolution. This role can be categorized into two phases: the pre-partition and the post-partition periods. In the pre-partition phase, Islam was employed as an effective instrument of political mobilization to achieve a Muslim state. However, once the leaders accomplished the political objective of nationhood, there was a marked decline in the leadership’s emphasis on the role of religion. It happened because leadership achieved the working sentiment of the faith. As a result, a conflict of ideology arose because the leadership desired a secular state while the people yearned for a Muslim nation. The first constituent assembly settled this conflicting perspective in the objectives resolution. Then, the constitution of 1973 made the objectives resolution the substantive part of the constitution. Hence, Islam is the official religion of Pakistan.

The spirit and substance of article 2 are that all laws of the land shall conform to the injunctions of Islam. The sovereignty belongs to Allan and is a delegated authority to the people of Pakistan, who will exercise it through their chosen representatives as a sacred trust. Therefore, article 31 of the constitution promotes the Islamic way of life as a policy principle. Then, the protection of minorities is guaranteed in article 36 of the constitution. The state religion is also reflected in the constitutional offices of the state. The country’s chief executive, the prime minister, shall be a Muslim by faith. The legislature shall not legislate a law inconsistent with the canons of Islam. The executive part of the state shall incorporate Islamic law, and the judiciary shall not interpret the law without applying Islamic precepts. The armed forces and other services shall uphold the principles of the Islamic way of life. Part IX of the constitution describes the Islamic Provisions relating to the Holy Quran and Sunnah, the Islamic council’s composition and subsequent functions. Islamic council has the mandate to regulate the law of the land according to the canons of Islam.

Article 2-A makes the Objectives Resolution of 1949 the substantive part of the constitution. This insertion is critical for Islam to be the state religion. The resolution stands out as the beacon providing the framers of the constitution the fundamental principles to make, amend, insert or substitute not only the constitution but also the legislation and delegated legislation. The objectives resolution lays down a framework for the law’s evolution and implementation. It ensures sovereignty as a sacred trust for the people who will exercise it through their representatives. It declares that Pakistan shall be a federation with autonomous provinces. It ensures the independence of the judiciary and the protection of the minority. The objectives resolution provides the canons of equality before the law, fundamental rights, political justice and rights, elimination of exploitation, the doctrine of good governance, a welfare state and the principle of democracy and constitutional guarantee as part of constitutional value. The objectives further extend to protecting family, economic, individual and collective life.

The article is the most debated in the socio-religious discourse in Pakistan. The secular branch of narrative attributes the famous speech of Muhammad Ali Jinnah that Pakistan shall not be a theocratic state. They attribute the law of the land as theocratic. They often criticize the law regimes as opposed to the people’s fundamental rights. They believe that states should be secular and religion should be of a personal preference. However, the Islamic branch of the narrative believes that the freedom movement led to the creation of Pakistan, which promised a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. The fundamental objective was to lead life according to the injunctions of Islam. The sentiment of religion has always been prevalent in society since time immemorial. Therefore, the people of Pakistan want to make the country an Islamic state, and the constitution of Pakistan provides it, at least in the grab of de-jure connotations. Then, de-facto practices are almost opposite to the de-jure purposes in Pakistan.

Nevertheless, Pakistan is neither a theocracy nor a secular state but a mixed bag of these elements. The regime of law, procedure and implementation should have the exact alignment. However, it is so queer that Pakistan does not have this alignment. The constitution may be prone to theocracy, but the procedures and implementation mechanism are western. Pakistan inherited the colonial legacy. All the coded laws of the land emanate from secular regimes. The operations of courts, administration, civil service, military and all other organizations are deeply rooted in the colonial legacy of symbolism and substance. It raises the question, should an Islamic state follow secular procedures and implementation mechanisms? The laws, procedures and implementation modules must conform to each other. Pakistan is an Islamic state in constitutional law but a secular state in procedural law and implementation.

The biggest challenge to implementing article 2 is globalization and the role of the international world. Pakistan is a signatory to many protocols of the United Nations. It cooperates internationally and regionally. Pakistan is a client state that depends on international aid and imports. A dependent country can not implement the ideology of the people. Then, the sectarian elements of the religion are so divided that a composite religious philosophy remains a far-fetched ideal until all people have a consensus on it. Irrespective of the reasons for religious extremism, it has divided society. Now, there is hardly a consensus on the brand of Islam to be implemented.

Lastly, article 2 of the constitution provides that the state religion shall be Islam and objectives resolution is the substantive part of the constitution.

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