The Early Years of the Pakistani Government (1947-1958)

Mohammad Ali Jinnah on the cover of Times with his Muslim tigers taking Pakistan from India

The post-independence Pakistani government is one constantly intermingled with military rule, corruption, public unrest, and political feuds. Starting at its birth, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, being the leader of the nationalist movement, became Pakistan’s first leader and was named governor-general, with his aid and ally Liaquat Ali Khan as Prime Minister. Just one year after the independence of Pakistan, Jinnah died on September 11, 1948, and Liaquat became the nation’s new leader. In 1951, three years after the tragic death of the “Father of Pakistan,” Liaquat was assassinated and Khawaja Nazimuddin came to power as the next Prime Minister and Ghulam Muhammad became the governor-general. Later, in October 1953, due to violence in relation to religious conflict between those of Islamic and Ahmadiyya faith (a religion, contradictory to Islam) and efforts by the assembly to limit his power, governor-general Ghulam Muhammad declared a state of emergency, dissolving the elected body of the Constituent Assembly. Ghulam then appointed Muhammad Ali Bogra to be Prime Minister and formed a new cabinet called “Ministry of Talents.”

In 1955, Ghulam resigned as governor-general out of health concerns, and was replaced by Major General Syed Iskander Ali Mirza. Mirza, feeling that Pakistan was not ready for true democracy, dismissed Bogra and the national assembly and replaced him with a new Prime Minister, Chaudhry Muhammad Ali. One of Chaudhry’s major acts as Prime Minister was the Constitution of 1956 was established, being the first Pakistani Constitution. The constitution set up a parliamentary government with the Legislative Assembly replacing the Constituent Assembly and the position governor-general became president. This new constitution solved the issue of unequal representation and gave equal seats to both East and West Pakistan in the Legislative Assembly.  

After a series of Prime Minister power changes from 1956 to 1957, Malik Feros Khan Noon became the Prime Minister and was able to stabilize the government and calm the political chaos. President Mirza, despite his success, felt threatened and declared martial law. Muhammad Ayub Khan became chief martial law administrator and the constitution of 1956 was suspended, democratic assemblies dissolved, upcoming elections canceled, and the Muslim League was disbanded. Mirza and Ayub Khan had power disputes and in the end, Ayub Khan had Mirza arrested and named himself president.


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