State emblem of Pakistan

Pakistan Constitution and Legal Systems

The Constitution

The first Pakistani constitution did not come into force until nine years (1956) after Pakistan was established, reflecting the indecision and instability of the civilian forces. However, today reference is made to the 73 constitution, which was passed as a compromise in a consensus under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. This regulates issues such as the role of Islam, the division of power within the federal system and the power relationship between the president and prime minister, with the latter having a stronger position. In this constitution, Islam was also declared the state religion. The Pakistani Constitution has a difficult history as various dictators and presidents changed it in their favor.

Recent constitutional amendments

Most recently, in December 2010, the relevant 18th constitutional amendment was passed in a parliamentary consensus. In addition to important changes in the area of human rights and the federal system in Pakistan, the power relationship between the president and prime minister was also corrected.

The subsequent 19th constitutional amendment resolves the appointment of judges in the higher courts. The 20th constitutional amendment is intended to ensure the independence of the electoral commission and the neutrality of the “caretaker government”.

Legal systems

“Common Law”

According to computergees, the Pakistani legal system is a hybrid system that includes several legal systems of various temporal or ideological origins. In Pakistan there are both formal and non-formal legal mechanisms for conflict resolution. The formal legal system is largely based on the legal system introduced by the British (“common law”). This consists of the “superior” as well as the “subordinate” or “lower” judiciary, ie the higher and local. The “higher” judiciary includes the Supreme Court, the “ Supreme Court ” with its seat in Islamabad, as well as the four regional courts, the “High Courts” in the four large provinces. The local judiciary comprises the district courts at the district level, the “District Court”, the “Session Court” and the “Civil Court”.

Sharia dishes

Since the 1980’s, the formal legal system has also included aspects of Islamic law (“sharia”). The Federal Shariat Court, introduced under the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq, has the right to review laws (proposals) with a view to their compatibility with Islamic law and primarily deals with cases in the area of family and personal law. However, it should be noted here that this court is sometimes more important and sometimes less, depending on the political orientation of the respective government. This parallel legal system is supplemented by other special courts at higher and local levels, such as the military courts or the special anti-terrorist courts.

Panchayat and Jirga

Informal conflict resolution mechanisms include the traditional, tribal and patriarchal “panchayat” (mostly found in Punjab and Sindh) and “jirga” (mostly found in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan). In many cases, these informal mechanisms play a complementary role to the formal legal system. On the other hand, they are sometimes in contradiction to formal Pakistani law, which can also lead to serious human rights violations. The case of Mukhtaran Mai has therefore attracted national and international attention.

National symbols

The state emblem of Pakistan was adopted in 1954. The green color of the emblem and the crescent moon and star symbolize Islam. In the center there is a coat of arms with four fields, each of which depicts one of Pakistan’s most important agricultural products: cotton, jute, tea and wheat. The flower tendril around the coat of arms represents jasmine, the national flower symbol, and represents the cultural heritage of the Mughals. The ribbon below contains the national motto, which was formulated by the state founder Jinnah “Faith, Unity, Discipline”.

The national flag that flies on this side consists of a large green and a small white field. Green is the color of Islam, white represents the non-Islamic minorities. The crescent moon and star reinforce the Islamic symbolism. You can read and hear the text of the national anthem here in Urdu and English.

The Markhor, the screw goat, is Pakistan’s national animal. Since 2015, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorized the Markhor on the Red List no longer as endangered, but as potentially endangered, as the population is increasing again.

Foreigners are, of course, expected to show respect for the country’s national symbols.

State emblem of Pakistan

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