Fundamental Duties Of Citizens Must Be Added To The Constitution
Usman Khan argues that the duties of the citizens towards the country are often ignored and that they should be added to the constitution in order to create a sense of responsibility among the populace.
The constitution of a country carries within it the entire skeletal nature of a nation. Upon that skeleton lies the judicial and legislator which bring forth precedents and legislation. But an often ignored part by the legislators is the open description of what the duties of citizens towards the country are. The discussion starts with responsibilities of a government to its populace and ends with the failure of government, yet never have citizens’ duties been discussed. And this is a contributing factor towards the citizens’ callous attitude towards the constitution, rule of law and integrity of the democratic government.
Our constitution is a long written document that covers state religion, Muslim definition, fundamental rights and state policy but it never touches upon the citizenship duties towards the state.
In a democratic country, the government must be inclusive and this fact was comprehended by our neighbour India, when it decided to include citizenship duties within its constitutional framework. This is highlighted in Article 51-A of the constitution of India which highlighted 10 citizenship duties and the 11th with the 86th amendment act in 2002. The duties include the following
- Duty to abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and anthem.
- Cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom
- Uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India
- Defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so.
- Promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional and sectional diversities.
- Protect and improve the natural environment
- Develop scientific temper
- Safeguard public property and to abjure violence.
- Strive towards excellence and all spheres of individual and collective responsibility.
- Every parent or guardian must ensure that their child or ward was provided opportunities for education between the age of 6 and 14.
With the above, you can see that the citizens of the state are intertwined with the state constitutionally and the constitution which acts as the glue is now in the hearts of the citizens. The duties cover respect of democracy, principles, government, unity, defense, education, advancement and even environmental protection.
All of these things start seeping into the people and the people do not become alienated by the state and the constitution thinking both to be completely independent of their interest. Other states have also seen the absolute necessity of highlighting citizenship duties. The United States also creates constitutional duties upon its citizens which range from defense of constitution to payment of taxes, defense of nation and state, participation in the democratic process, respect for state and its laws and respect for other’s rights and opinions and these are legal and vital duties that the United States expects from all its citizens.
The Afghan constitution is another document that places duties upon its citizens and that is covered in chapter 2 of the constitution named ‘Fundamental rights and Duties of all citizens’ in article 55 and 56 this is covered where the former deals with defense of the state and compulsory military service and in the latter observance of the provisions of the constitution, obedience of laws and respect of public order and security and the article mentions that knowledge of all laws is the duty of all citizens and ignorance of laws shall not be a valid excuse.
Including duties of citizens creates a sense of belonging amongst the populace and the populace comes to a clear cut understanding of their position and duties within the country. And thus they also come to understand that the sword and shield, which is the constitution, is for them and they are responsible for its defense as well as for the harmony, peace and growth of the country.
The legislators must pass an amendment highlighting the proper duties of each and every citizen of Pakistan and this way we can combat disharmony amongst the various ethnicities and religions within Pakistan as well as further increase the unity and nationalism of the country along with the natural and environmental harmony.
A small amendment can go a long way in furthering the unity, equality and democratic freedom of the country.