Pakistan's new constitution was adopted by a near unanimous vote in Islamabad on Tuesday (10 April) ending uncertainty over the country's political future.
Pakistan's new constitution was adopted by a near unanimous vote in Islamabad on Tuesday (10 April) ending uncertainty over the country's political future. Pakistan's opposition parties had boycotted the National Assembly's proceedings on the constitution up to less than two hours before the vote was taken. The boycott was abandoned after opposition talks with President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The President agreed to certain changes in the controversial constitution and it was passed by 125 votes, none against and two abstentions. Seventeen members were not present.
President Bhutto said the last minute talks took place at request of the opposition parties, who form the United Democratic Front. Opposition deputies had stayed away from constitution-making proceedings for more than two weeks. When they filed into the National Assembly Chamber, they were greeted by loud cheers from the Government benches.
In his speech to the House, President Bhutto said the time had come "when we must lay down our arms among ourselves." He said there had been too much tension in the country and too much trouble for the people. He urged that the Assembly work collectively for the good of the country. The President said the tangled question of provincial autonomy had been solved and the opposition had agreed that autonomy provided in the new constitution was adequate. However, he concedeD that the constitution was not immutable and could be amended where necessary.
The passage of the constitution was to be followed by a week of celebrations through Pakistan.
SYNOPSIS: The opposition in Pakistan's National Assembly ended its two week boycott of proceedings only hours before the country's new constitution was passed on Tuesday.
Members of the opposition parties, which from the Untied Democratic Front, field back into the chamber one hour and forty minutes before a near unanimous vote adopted the constitution with last minute amendments. Of those present at the vote, none were against and only two abstained.
One of the major issues disputed in the constitution was the degree of autonomy given to the provinces.
Last minute talks between President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and opposition leaders ended the dispute. In his speech to the Assembly, President Bhutto said the tangled question of provincial autonomy had resolved. He asked members to set aside their disagreements and work together for the good of the country. He said there had been too much tension in the past.
President Bhutto conceded the controversial new contribution was not immutable and could amended where necessary.