Zia ul Haq
pakistanstudies.pk Zia-ul-Haq Islamisation in Pakistan between 1947 and 1988

Islamisation in Pakistan between 1947 and 1988

Zia ul Haq

Q. How successful have governments been in the Islamisation of Pakistan between 1947 and 1988? Explain your answer. [14](N2009/P1/5c)

The Constituent Assembly passed the Objectives Resolution in March 1949 which was the first step towards constitution of Pakistan. This resolution made several references to Islamic laws like social justice, equality and religious freedom, and Muslims were also enabled to lead their lives according to Islamic teachings. But the religious wings were not satisfied with these provisions. They wanted complete implementation of the Shariah Laws. Together with other reasons, the resolution was withdrawn in November 1950 for further considerations.

Khawaja Nazimuddin revised the proposals of the same resolution in 1952. Now the Head of the state would be Muslim over 40. He would appoint a board of religious scholars who would advise on central and provincial legislation. In case of objections on religious grounds, the bill had to be sent back to the assembly for amendment. Now fears arose in many circles that the Religious Advisory Board would have power of veto over new laws. The Prime Minister withdrew the proposals in 1953.

When the first constitution of Pakistan was prepared in 1956, it changed the name of Pakistan to Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Religious Advisory Board was still retained for monitoring the legislation with right of veto. The constitution also declared that the President was to be a Muslim.

Ayub Khan was a bit liberal. He introduced Muslim Family Laws Ordinance according to which marriages and divorces were to be registered and minimum age limits were defined for marriage. Women were empowered. In spite of opposition from religious wings, these laws were imposed. He established Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology to advise him the religious aspects of policies. He also founded Islamic Research Institute. These institutes were just symbolic; he never welcomed their proposals.

In the 1973 constitution, Bhutto gave no consideration to the implementation of Shariah Laws. It was almost based on the 1956 constitution. Islamic committee was still set up, but it could only advice on legislation. After the 1977 elections when Pakistan National Alliance was protesting on the roads against rigging, he tried to appease the religious factions by banning gambling, restricting sale of alcohol and declaring Friday to be the weekly holiday. These were just desperate actions. However, there was also a little success on road of Islamization. Both President and Prime Minister were to be Muslims and had to believe in the finality in of Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Legislation also gave a definition of a ‘Muslim’.

General Zia ul Haq tried to be a pro-Islamic leader. He established Federal Shariat Court in 1979 to consider existing laws and judgments in the light of Islamic principles. He set up a Federal Shariat Court to consider existing laws and legal judgements and decide if they were in keeping with Islam. He introduced Hudood Ordinances which gave Islamic punishments to people involved in drinking, gambling, theft and adultery. A new offense of disrespect of Holy Prophet was introduced, with imprisonment or a fine as a punishment for offenders. He also introduced the Council of Islamic Ideology to suggest ways for bringing the legal system closer to Islamic ideology. He also introduced Zakat and Ushr Ordinances imposing 2.5% wealth tax and 5% tax on agricultural income respectively. Islamiyat and Pakistan Studies were made compulsory subjects in the schools and colleges. Memorizers of the Holy Quran were given extra marks in the Civil Service examinations. Arabic language was promoted through TV and Radio programs. No woman was allowed to appear on the TV without scarf. Many people from the civil society raised a voice against some of his actions, but in many areas he has support from Ulamas.

Of course the reign of Zia ul Haq saw maximum implementation of Shariah Laws. He won the support of many religious political parties, ulamas and religious factions.

In conclusion it can be said that although several and serious efforts for Islamisation were made, but implementation of clauses of Islamisation remained in question. Desired results were not achieved because of lack of will and proper implementation. The fact remains that governments have not been successful in their efforts for Islamisation in Pakistan.

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