World Constitution Day

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World Constitution Day

Pakistan opens up access to its constitution with digital version

Muhammad Atif

The Constitution is the fundamental law of a nation that outlines the powers and limitations of the government, and the rights and duties of citizens. It is the foundation on which the governance structure of a country is erected. It is an essential document that sets the framework for the governance of a country, and serves as a safeguard against tyranny and abuse of power. It reflects a country’s social and political character, framing its legal and political systems. It ensures accountability, prevents abuses of power and upholds the rule of law. A constitution safeguards citizens’ liberties, maintains order and serves as a cohesive national identity, fostering stability and democracy.

A constitution is the rule book for a state. It sets out the fundamental principles by which the state is governed. It describes the main institutions of the state, and defines the relationship between these institutions (e.g., between the executive, legislature and judiciary). It places limits on the exercise of power, and sets out the rights and duties of citizens.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a constitution as “a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or organization is governed”. The Collins dictionary says a constitution consists of “the fundamental principles on which a state is governed, especially when considered as embodying the rights of subjects”.

A constitution sets out how all the elements of government are organized and how power is carved up among different political units. It contains rules about what power is wielded, who wields it and over whom it is wielded in the governing of a country.

And, as a kind of deal or contract between those in power and those who are subjected to this power, a constitution defines the rights and duties of citizens, and the devices that keep those in power in check. So, it is important for the citizens of a country to be aware of its constitution and have easy access to it so as to be better, responsible citizens of the state.

Pakistan, just like most countries of the world, has adopted written constitutions as a foundational legal document that delineates the principles, structures and operations of government, ensuring clarity and predictability in governance. The Constitution of Pakistan establishes the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, providing a bulwark against arbitrary state power and guaranteeing individual liberties.

What differentiates a constitution from other legal documents is the set of key functions it performs. Firstly, unlike laws that can be easily amended, a constitution is difficult to repeal or change. This ensures that the core principles and rights it enshrines remain relatively stable and permanent, guiding the nation through various political shifts. Imagine a nation like Pakistan weathering a political storm. The constitution, with its inherent stability, acts as an anchor, providing a steady foundation for the country’s legal and political systems.

With an aim to highlight the positive benefits of a written constitution, every year on August 1st, the world comes together to celebrate World Constitution Day, a commemoration that aims to raise awareness about the importance of the constitution and drive efforts to promote constitutional literacy.  It’s a celebration of the passion people have for good governance.

The day focuses on connecting participants with exemplary constitutional practices and fostering educational and community outreach programs. Workshops might explore how different countries have implemented constitutional rights, while outreach programs could encourage young people to become familiar with their national constitution.

For advocates of constitutions and leaders, World Constitution Day provides a platform for civic communities and elected officials to share their passion for good governance. It serves as a bridge between past and future, tradition and innovation, and local and global perspectives. By opening doors (both physically and virtually) and incorporating educational elements, the day fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation for constitutions.

This year’s World Constitution Day has a special significance for Pakistan as the country recently achieved a significant milestone in making its foundational document more accessible to the public.

As a media professional deeply committed to ensuring public access to information, I have long recognized the importance of clear and accessible communication. This principle is especially crucial when applied to foundational documents like constitutions, which serve as the bedrock of a nation’s governance. To illustrate this point, I want to highlight a significant effort – the digitization of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This project exemplifies this commitment by making the country’s Constitution more accessible to the public.

The project’s driving force was a seasoned media professional, an alumnus of the University of Balochistan currently serving as the Deputy Controller (Programme) at Radio Pakistan. Recognizing the immense potential of technology to revolutionize public engagement with the Constitution, he proposed its digitization and garnered the unwavering support of the University administration. His dedication proved crucial in bringing this vision to life. He meticulously undertook the vital task of formatting and coding the Constitution’s text in both Urdu and English, ensuring its smooth integration into the digital platform. He even went beyond by designing a user-friendly layout for all the platform’s functionalities. Through this collaborative effort, a comprehensive online platform ( was created, offering the complete text of the Constitution of Pakistan in a readily accessible format. Moreover, by making the Constitution easily searchable and understandable, the project has empowered citizens to engage more actively with their nation’s core governing document. Downloads of the Constitution have surged, demonstrating a growing public interest in understanding the rights and principles enshrined within. This achievement has garnered international recognition, with him being honored as a Global Network Ambassador for World Constitution Day 2024.

The platform boasts several user-friendly features to enhance accessibility. Users can access the complete Constitution in both languages, benefit from extensive search options (enabling them to locate specific articles quickly and efficiently), and gain valuable context through footnotes and annotations accompanying each article. Additionally, the platform grants easy access to all annexures.

The official launch of this groundbreaking platform took place on November 18, 2023, during the 20th convocation of the University of Balochistan. The inauguration ceremony was graced by the honorable Governor of Balochistan, Malik Abdul Wali Kakar. The digitization of Pakistan’s Constitution is expected to set a precedent for innovation and collaboration, potentially inspiring similar initiatives globally. This initiative underscores the vital role of accessible and understandable constitutions in fostering an informed citizenry and strengthening democratic foundations.  It also highlights the University of Balochistan’s commitment to advancing educational and democratic values through technological innovation.

Imagine a ripple effect, where Pakistan’s project inspires other nations to digitize their constitutions, leading to a world where these foundational documents are readily available to all citizens. This increased accessibility empowers people to understand their rights and hold their governments accountable, ultimately strengthening democracies around the globe.

World Constitution Day celebrates the virtues and benefits of written constitutions. Both written and unwritten constitutions form the cornerstone of a nation’s system. However, written constitutions offer a clear and tangible reference point for citizens and lawmakers, unlike unwritten ones that rely on traditions and judicial rulings. The clarity and accessibility of a written constitution, like Pakistan’s, underscore its importance in modern governance.

The digitization of Pakistan’s Constitution is a significant milestone in enhancing public understanding of this critical document.  As we celebrate World Constitution Day, let us recognize the vital role of constitutions in shaping the social and political character of nations and in establishing the values and rights that guide our societies. This initiative not only marks a significant achievement for Pakistan but also highlights the importance of technological innovation in promoting constitutional literacy and fostering informed citizenry.


The writer is Global Network Ambassador for World Constitution Day 2024

Muhammad Ali Asghar

This is the Admin of this website

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