TEXT OF PRESIDENT YAHYA KHAN'S ADDRESS TO THE NATION (MARCH 28, 1970)

 

My dear countrymen, Assalam-Alaikum.

 

It is now four months since I spoke to you last. In many ways, these four months have been of considerable significance for us all. I propose, therefore, to give you a brief survey of what has been achieved in this period in various sectors and what still remains to be achieved.

 

As I have often said, the main objective that I have placed before myself is the peaceful transfer of power to the elected representatives of the people. But let me also make it clear that this is by no means the only responsibility of the Government. It has a host of other responsibilities and duties and we have every intention of carrying these out as long as the task of administering this country devolves on us.

 

The political parties of the country were denied the freedom to propagate views and explain their programmes for many years and therefore when, on the 1st January, 1970, the ban on holding of public meetings and taking out the processions was lifted, an over-enthusiastic use of this freedom was only to be expected. But, unfortunately, in some cases people transgressed the limits of good order.

 

It must be remembered that at this critical juncture of our history, self-discipline and the rule of law are of supreme importance. In the present context, every act of indiscipline or law-breaking has very wide repercussions. This tendency for creating disorder must therefore be strictly curbed. Otherwise, our progress towards the achievement of democracy, that we so keenly desire, will be seriously impeded.

 

We must face facts and appreciate that Pakistan is passing through a phase surcharged with tension, and the slightest provocation can result in serious trouble. Whilst the Government has no intention of interfering with the right of any citizen to express his views or to work for a particular programme in the political field, as long as these are in keeping with the ideology and integrity of Pakistan, it has the right to ensure that all this activity is carried out within the limits of the law of the land.

 

In fact, I would ask everyone , be they political leaders and workers, labour or students, to think twice before they say any thing or act in any manner, and ask themselves if what they are going to say or do, would be beneficial to the country or if it would harm it in however an indirect manner it may be. I am referring here not only to internal matters but also to external affairs. It is not only impolite but positively harmful to our relationship with other countries to pass harsh remarks about their leaders or their ideologies.

 

The responsibility for maintaining law and order in any civilised society does not rest with the Government alone, but must be shared by the leaders of public opinion as well as by the public in general. I must therefore insist that leaders and all other participants in political activity must act with a sense of responsibility.

 

While propagating their own views and programmes, they must not interfere with the freedom of others to do the same, because that is a negation of the very spirit of democracy and will necessarily interfere with the objectives that we have set in front of us. There have been some unfortunate incidents of public meetings and processions being violently disturbed resulting in injury and death.

 

Such violence, be it in the political arena or based on narrow parochialism, can have serious adverse effects. I am fully conscious of my responsibilities and the responsibilities of the Government functionaries concerned with the maintenance of law and order, but I would like to ask you, and in particular those of you who are in positions of leadership, if you are also equally conscious of your responsibilities.

 

The Government has made its position quite clear. It will not tolerate violence and law-breaking and it has the right to expect full co-operation from all those who uphold democratic values and profess toleration. I will leave this subject with one last word. I regret to have to say that I have noticed a rather unfortunate tendency on the part of some of our leaders and others, first to urge the Adminis­tration to be firm whenever violence breaks out in any particular area and then once the law-breakers are arrested and the legal processes of justice begin, to shout themselves hoarse in demanding the release of the very people, action against whom they initially so vociferously demanded.

 

It is obvious that this is done with an eye to the gallery. This is neither fair nor proper. We cannot afford in this critical phase of the life of this country to act in a short sighted manner calculated merely to obtain some sort of tactical gains in the political field. It is time that we are all true to ourselves and have the courage to condemn vioience and incitement to violence and not to tolerate it even if it means a certain amount of unpopularity with some section of the community or the other.

 

I sincerely hope that our political leaders will rise to the occasion and fully co-operate with the Administration in achieving the objectives that I had earlier laid down for the nation.

 

Finally, on this issue of the conduct of the election campaign, I would like to clear up a doubt that has been voiced by some people. It is said that my Government is lending its support to some of the political parties. This is not correct and I would once again like to assure you that this regime has been, is, and will, continue to be completely impartial as far as the election campaign is concerned. The Government, however, expects that no political party or individual will propagate or work against the ideology and integrity of Pakistan.

 

In my address to the nation on the 28th November of last, I had, as you know, given out a plan for the transfer of power to the elected representatives of the people and had indicated certain major policy decisions that I had taken.

 

It is a matter of great personal satisfaction to me that the plan that I had laid before the nation was accepted by the people in every part of the country with great enthusiasm. This fact reaffirmed my assumption that the proposals outlined by me were based on popular wish. Let me now apprise you of the progress that has been made towards the achievement of the various objectives mentioned in that plan.

 

The Committee appointed for the purpose of working out the details of the dissolution of One Unit has completed its draft Action Plan and has submitted its proposals with regard to financial and administrative arrangements.

 

A President's Order setting out all the relevant details will be published shortly.

The provincial administration of each new province of West Pakistan will be in position soon and will become fully operative by the lst of July, 1970, which is the commencement of the new financial year.

 

Thereafter, West Pakistan will revert as closely as possible to the pre-One Unit position.

The arrangements for the holding of elections are going according to plan and the Chief Election Commissioner has kept you informed of developments from time to time. I foresee no difficulty whatsoever in keeping to the date that I had indicated in my last address.

 

The Legal Framework Order, 1970, will be published on the 30th of this month. This Order will form the main base for the operation of the National Assembly in their task of Constitution making. I might at this stage mention some of the salient features of this Order which has been formulated as a result of my assess­ment of the wishes of the people.

 

The National Assembly will consist of a total 313 members, of these, 13 seats will be reserved for women. The allocation of seats to various provinces will be based on the population as recorded in the Census of 1961 which is the latest official record available to the Government.

 

The Order also provides for the holding of elections to the Provincial Assemblies.

 

At one stage, when plans for the transfer of power were being formulated, our thinking was that election to the Provincial Assemblies should be held after the Constitution is finalised. The question was further examined in greater detail by my Government and we have come to the conclusion that politically it will be in the Country's interest to hold the provincial elections soon after the elections to the National Assembly.

 

The main reason for this is that it will facilitate and speed up the transfer of power to the elected representatives as soon as the Constitution is finalised. Further, it will relieve the politicians and their parties from a new election campaign immediately after the business of Constitution-making is over. I consider that once the constitutional issues are settled, our leaders should address themselves to the major nation-building tasks rather than entering into a fresh round of electioneering.

 

Taking all these factors into consideration, I have decided that provincial elections will be held not later than the 22nd_ October, 1970. The Provincial Assemblies would, however, start functioning when duly summoned after the Constitution has been framed and authenticated by me.

 

When the Legal Framework Order, 1970, is published, you will notice that in the schedule dealing with the Rules of Procedure, the voting procedure for the National Assembly has not been included. This is a matter which is best settled by the House itself and it is my earnest hope that there would not be too much divergence in views on this issue. Unanimity would of course be ideal. In any case I do not personally like to talk on this subject on the basis of percentages.

 

The point that I made earlier and would like to emphasise again is that a Constitution is not an ordinary piece of legislation, but it is an agreement to live together. It is therefore essential that all regions are reasonably satisfied with the voting procedure that may be evolved by the House, because unless they are so satisfied, the Constitution will not really and genuinely by acceptable to the people of different provinces and regions as such a document should be. I am sure it should be possible to arrive at some suitable arrangement.

 

The Legal Framework Order does not only state how the Assembly will come into being, what its strength would be, and such other matters relating to the setting up of this Assembly, but it also lays down certain basic principles for the future Constitution of Pakistan. Most of these principles are based on previous Constitutions, but I thought it necessary to highlight some of these in the Order so that the Assembly makes a constitution which is acceptable to the people of Pakistan as a whole.

 

Firstly, the Order lays down that the Constitution of Pakistan must preserve Islamic ideology which, as we all know, was the basis of the creation of Pakistan.

 

Secondly, the Constitution must ensure independence, territorial integrity and national solidarity of Pakistan. In order to attain these objectives it has been laid down in the Legal Framework Order that the territories now and hereafter included in Pakistan must be united in a federal union which must preserve the territorial unity of the State of Pakistan which will be called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

 

The third fundamental principle of the future Constitution is that it must be a democratic one in which such basic ingredients of democracy as free and periodical elections on the basis of population and direct adult franchise are included. Further, the Constitution must include the independence of judiciary, and the fundamental rights of the citizens.

 

The fourth basic principle of the new Constitution is that it must be a true federal one in which powers including legislative, administrative and financial shall be so distributed between the Federal Government and the provinces that the provinces shall have maximum autonomy, that is to say, maximum legislative, administrative and financial powers, and the Federal Government shall have adequate powers including legislative, administrative and financial powers to discharge its responsibilities in relation to external and internal affairs and to preserve the independence and territorial integrity of the Country.

 

The fifth principle of the Constitution is that it must provide full opportunity to the people of all regions of Pakistan for participation in national affairs so that they can live together as equal and honourable partners and be moulded into a strong nation as visualised by the Father of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

It is, therefore, laid down in the Legal Framework Order that opportunities must be made available to the people of various regions of Pakistan for enabling them to participate in all branches of national activity, and to achieve this objective there must be statutory provision to remove all disparities-in particular economic disparity, among the various provinces of Pakistan within a fixed period.

 

The dissatisfaction which has arisen in some regions of the country as a result of disparity in economic development has created a big challenge to our emerging nationalism. We must, therefore, concentrate our attention and energy to remove this sort of discontentment by eliminating its cause.

 

I hope, all of you will aggree with me that while in the future National Government people of every region must have the fullest opportunity to play their part in national affairs, the unity and integrity of Pakistan must be preserved and must not be allowed to be adversely affected on regional and parochial grounds.

 

Pakistan was established on the basis of the idea of the homeland for the Muslims of this subcontinent. It was achieved at the cost of the lives of a million Muslims. We cannot allow that sacrifice to go in vain. The assertion of Quaid-i­Azam, that Pakistan has come to stay, must be upheld at any cost. This is an assumption over which there can never be any debate.

 

Before moving on to the next subject, I would like to offer my comments on a fear that has been expressed in certain quarters that it would not be possible for the National Assembly to make a Constitution within the stipulated period of 120 days. I must express my complete disagreement with this point of view. I believe that given the will and spirit of accommodation which the nation has a right to expect from its responsible representatives, the National Assembly will find no difficulty in completing its task within the given time.

 

As we all know, the Members will have two or three drafts available to them for their consideration in the form of previous Constitutions. So it is not as if this Assembly will have to start from scratch.

 

The basic ground work in respect of the Preamble, the Directive Principles and many other matters has already been done in the previous Constitutions and most of it continues to apply. I may also add that I have done everything possible to facilitate and speed up the Assembly's work. Adult franchise, population basis and dismemberment of One Unit are now settled issues. On the procedural side, a complete set of Rules of Procedure will be included as a schedule in the Legal Framework Order.

 

It was against this background that my Government had carefully worked out a reasonable period for framing the Constitution, and we considered that 120 days would be quite adequate. Let us therefore eschew all further doubts and fears on this account.

 

In the end, my dear country-men, I would like to say once again that it is my own and my Government's firm resolve to bring back democracy to our country. I need hardly say that in the achievement of this objective we expect full co-operation and unflinching support from every one of you. For without such co-operation and support our task will be made infinitely more difficult.

 

Our people are intensely patriotic. They will, therefore, tolerate most things except an act of sabotage against the integrity of Pakistan. If anyone thinks that he can let dawn the country and the people or entertain any ideas of destroying the basic unity of our people, he is very much mistaken. The people will not stand for this.

 

As I said earlier, everyone has a right to offer his solution to the constitu­tional, political, economic and administrative problems of the country, but no one has a right to offer a solution which would adversely affect the solidarity of the people of Pakistan. This no one would tolerate. We will refuse to be silent spectators to any attacks against Pakistan's entity as a nation.

 

Major changes cannot be brought about without courage and patriotism of the highest order on the part of the whole nation. The country is passing through a phase when personal and all other considerations must be sacrificed for the bigger cause-the cause of Pakistan.

 

Let me assure you that I have not the slightest doubt that, by the grace of Almighty God, we shall overcome our present difficulties.

 

God bless you all, Pakistan Paindabad.

 

(MORNING NEWS, Karachi and Dacca-March 29, 1970)

 

 

Source: Bangladesh Documents, vol – I, p. 44-49