The adoption of parliamentary system in Pakistan is the result of political experiences of Pakistanis in the past. Elaborate.


CSS Solved Political Science Past Papers | The adoption of parliamentary system in Pakistan is the result of political experiences of Pakistanis in the past. Elaborate.

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1- Introduction

2- Definition of parliament

3- Political experiences of Pakistanis that lead to the adoption of parliamentary system

  • ✓Government of India Act 1935
  • ✓Lahore/Pakistan Resolution
  • ✓Indian Independence Act of 1947
  • ✓Objective Resolution
  • ✓Maulvi Tamiz ud din Case
  • ✓Extra constitutionalism (Military Intervention)
  • ✓Constitution of 1973
  • ✓18th Amendment

4- Critical Analysis

5- Conclusion

Answer to the Question


The parliamentary system was implemented in Pakistan as a result of political events. It is clear that Pakistan has oscillated between a presidential and a parliamentary system since its inception. It is all due to political experiences of Pakistanis. Due to difficulties in drafting a constitution at the time Pakistan was founded, Pakistan was subject to the Government of India Act of 1935 with some modifications. After that, Pakistan went seven years without a constitution, operating solely under the terms of the Objective resolution, which was adopted on March 12, 1949. However, following Objective Resolution, a constituent assembly was established with former Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan serving as its head. This assembly approved the 1956 constitution. Unfortunately, just two years after Ayub Khan declared martial law in 1958, political instability and vested interests engulfed the constitution. There is new ray of hope with the presidential system. The second constitution, passed on April 8, 1962, was later rejected. In its place, an interim constitution was adopted in 1971, and a full constitution, backed by the legislative branch, was adopted in 1973.

Definition of parliament

The National Assembly of Pakistan is Pakistan’s sovereign legislature. It represents the people’s desire to be governed by the democratic, multi-party Federal Parliamentary System. According to the 1973 constitution, Pakistan’s parliament has a bicameral system, the Senate and the National Assembly. Under the Pakistani Constitution, the President of Pakistan is a member of Parliament.

Political experiences of Pakistanis that lead to the adoption of parliamentary system

Pakistan adopted a parliamentary system due to various events. The following phases defined the political experiences of Pakistanis in the pre and post-partition eras.

  • Government of India Act 1935

In August 1935, the British Parliament took a vigilant step and passed the Government of India Act. At the time, it was the longest act that the British Parliament had ever passed. This act supposedly makes decentralization simple. However, the 1935 Constitution, which had a political system almost exactly like the American one, went into effect. A bicameral Congress, an independent judiciary, and a President who would be chosen at large for a four-year term (and be eligible for one reelection) were all part of the system. As a result of this act, the president gained absolute power. Despite introducing a bicameral system and a democracy at its center, the government was not fully in charge because the Governor-General and his council were given control over the major issues, and there was no system to check their authority. Because of this, there was still a room for a system that worked better than the presidential one.

  • Lahore/Pakistan Resolution

The Pakistan Resolution, which is also known as the Lahore Resolution, was passed to give the Muslims of British India their own country. It is another significant piece of legislation. It was adopted during the All India Muslim League’s annual meeting, which took place in Lahore from March 22–24, 1940, and is a landmark document of Pakistan’s history. Without a doubt, this document was in favor of giving the provinces more autonomy, but in the post-independence era, it supported a powerful and assertive center. With the passing of the Resolution, the Muslim minority in British India became a nation with its own social, cultural, and political traits, a sense of its history, and shared hopes for the future. However, The Resolution disapproved of the federal structure proposed by the Government of India Act 1935 because it was “totally unsuited to and unworkable in the peculiar conditions of this country and is altogether unacceptable to Muslim India.” Any revised constitutional plan would need “their consent and approval” in order for the Muslims to accept it. But this will not remain workable because the situation changed after the creation of Pakistan. Some were in favor of federalism, and some were supporters of provincialism. Consequently, this is a crucial document that advances Pakistan’s transition to a parliamentary government.

  • Indian Independence Act of 1947

The Indian Independence Act of 1947 was passed by the British Parliament (1947, Chapters 30, 10 and 11; Geo. 6), which divided British India into the two newly independent nations of India and Pakistan. The Government of India Act 1935 was modified in some ways before this act was adopted after the founding of Pakistan. Prior to the adoption of the new constitution, this law acted as a safeguard for the federal government system. But in 1949, two years after Pakistan became independent, the Objective Resolution was adopted, nullifying this act. The amendments made by this act strengthened the parliamentary system of government even more.

  • Objective Resolution

The Objectives Resolution is one of Pakistan’s most essential and instructive constitutional documents. The nation’s first prime minister, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, first proposed the Objectives Resolution on March 7, 1949, and the Constituent Assembly later approved it on March 12, 1949. It is currently the fundamental law of Pakistan. One of the most critical documents in Pakistan’s constitutional history, it purports to combine elements of both Western and Islamic democracies. In the Objective Resolution, the federal system of government was established. As a result, it was also a major factor in Pakistan’s adoption of the parliamentary system.

  • Maulvi Tamiz ud din Case

Federation of Pakistan vs. Maulvi Tamizuddin was a court case in the Dominion of Pakistan. Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan served as the Speaker of Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly from 1948 to 1954 and Pakistan’s National Assembly from 1962 to 1963. The case of Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan took place in 1955 in the courts of the Dominion of Pakistan. The Governor General of Pakistan was successful in having the 1st Constituent Assembly of Pakistan overturned by the Federal Court of Pakistan, which upheld the Governor General’s decision.

 Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan, who was serving as president of the assembly at the time, filed a legal challenge to the dismissal. Except for one judge’s dissenting opinion, the majority of the court agreed with the discharge on the grounds that the doctrine of necessity should be applied. The verdict was seen as a blow to democratic norms, which had ramifications in modern-day Pakistan. So, this was also a major step that the authorities took into consideration which constitutional setup was best for Pakistan.

  • Extra constitutionalism (Military Intervention)

Since the country was first started, Pakistan has gone back and forth between democratic and military rule.  Pakistan experienced a coup d’état shortly after the country’s first decade of existence.

In October 1958, Iskandar Mirza, Pakistan’s first civilian president, got rid of the constitution, declared martial law, and made Ayub Khan the Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) and Prime Minister. This was the first time that the government and the military worked together. It was the first instance of a civil government working in conjunction with the military. After about two weeks, Ayub Khan succeeded Iskandar Mirza as president after ousting him from his position. In 1962, Ayub Khan removed the country’s martial law, ushered in a presidential constitution, and transitioned to the presidency of a civilian government. Ayub’s rise to power marked the conclusion of a game of musical chairs that lasted more than a decade.

The second military intervention was observed when Yahya Khan, after taking power from Ayub Khan in March 1969, attempted to resolve Pakistan’s constitutional and inter-provincial/regional rivalries with a second military intervention.

The third military intervention occurred on July 5, 1977, when Zia-ul-Haq declared martial law and appointed himself Chief Martial Law Administrator after deposing Prime Minister Bhutto. Zia deposed Bhutto on April 4, 1979, and became Pakistan’s military president.

The fourth military intervention occurred in 1999 when Pervaiz Musharaf took power. Thus, military rule in Pakistan is unprecedented. Pakistan was the only nation with such military rules.

These interventions also provide Pakistan an insight into taking a solid system. Hence, it is not wrong to state that the adoption of the parliamentary system in Pakistan is the result of Pakistanis’ political experiences in the past.

  • Constitution of 1973

The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan is Pakistan’s supreme law. It was approved by Parliament on April 10 and ratified on August 14, 1973, after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government and opposition parties drafted it. The Prime Minister has executive power under this Constitution’s parliamentary system. The Constitution places the President at the top, symbolizing the unity of the republic. From 1947 to 1973, the legislature was unicameral. The 1973 constitution gave Pakistan a parliamentary form of government, but two military interventions under the presidential system occurred after its passage, under which the presidential system was practiced. Thus, Pakistan’s parliamentary system is the result of Pakistanis’ political experiences.

  • 18th Amendment

Pakistan became a parliamentary republic on April 8, 2010, when the National Assembly of Pakistan passed the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, removing the President’s power to dissolve Parliament unilaterally. After removing 58-2 (B) from Pakistan’s 1973 constitution, this amendment changed everything. This prevented the dissolution of the National Assembly. This amendment has moved Pakistan toward parliamentary democracy. Thus, all this happened due to Pakistan’s worst political experiences.

Critical Analysis

In a critical diagnosis, Pakistani constitutional history was stagnant before and after independence. It began with the 1958 coup, when the military overthrew the government and suspended the constitution, establishing a military rule for over a decade. During this time, political parties were outlawed, and the military ruled the nation. Similar interventions occurred three times. These interventions, turmoil, and instability swing the country between legitimate democratic and illegitimate military rule. Thus, Pakistan adopted the parliamentary system due to its political history and wore political experiences of Pakistanis in the past.


To conclude, Pakistan’s parliamentary system is rooted in its political and historical context. Pakistan became independent from Britain in 1947 and adopted a federal parliamentary system with a Governor-General as the ceremonial head of state and a Prime Minister as the head of government. However, instability and frequent military interventions have shaped Pakistan’s political system. Despite these challenges, Pakistan’s parliamentary system remains its preferred form of government. The system guarantees regular elections, freedom of speech and assembly, and a balance of power between government branches. In the past, though, Pakistan faced political and economic challenges, but the parliamentary system allowed for democratic solutions.

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