Decolonising the law.

TOWARDS the end of World War II, the idea of 'decolonisation' with its attendant images of freedom fighters, ouster of the English colonisers and creation of independent nation states had echoed throughout the British Empire. More than half a century later, the word 'decolonisation' is resounding once again. This time however, it is being raised by disgruntled minorities within the UK seeking representation and justice from their own governments.

The modern-day call for decolonisation first emerged at a 2011 conference in Malaysia in which scholars expressed a desire to develop non-Eurocentric paradigms. In a few years, it was raised again as part of the 'Rhodes Must Fall' campaign launched at the University of Cape Town. By 2015 this campaign had reached the University of Oxford and its underlying theme of inclusivity and representation was picked up by the National Union of Students who started questioning why their curriculum was predominantly white.

In 2019-2020, the decolonisation movement received an unexpected boost by the Black Lives Matter protests that first erupted in the US in the wake of the successive brutal murders of several young black persons but were quickly replicated by marginalised groups in the UK.

It's a testament to the determination of the protestors that finally in 2020 Oxford University placed a plaque next to the statute of Rhodes acknowledging his colonial legacy and UK universities stepped up their efforts to include non-Eurocentric approaches in all areas of study It is entirely pertinent to ask what any of this has to do with Pakistan.

After all, wasn't Pakistan decolonised when it was declared an independent state in 1947? While Pakistan's creation as an independent country is not disputed, to understand whether it was truly decolonised it is important to go beyond the formal declarations of independence made in Pakistan's constitutive documents, to examine the extent to which Pakistan's governing institutions allow it to exercise sovereignty in its political and economic decisions.

Also read: Policy, reform and political change

The starting point for understanding any country's core institutions is its constitution. Pakistan has had three constitutions since it was created: the first in 1956, the second in 1962, and finally the third in 1973 which despite 25 amendments, remains in force today. In the nine years that Pakistan deliberated its first constitution it had the option to acquire a constitution...

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