Jump to: navigation, search

Pakistan


Pakistan came into being as a Muslim state on 14 August 1947 consequent upon the end of the British colonial rule in India. Due to unique socio-economic and political developments taking place in Indian subcontinent throughout the colonial regime, Muslims of India led by mohammed ali jinnah demanded a separate state for themselves. But the Congress opposed all proposals for partition, and advocated a united India with a strong centre and a fully responsible parliamentary government. From 1940 onwards, the movement for Pakistan began to gather momentum.

Pathway to Pakistan During World War II, the muslim league and indian national congress adopted different attitudes toward British rule. British priorities were driven by the expediencies of defence, and war was declared abruptly without any prior consultation with Indian politicians. Congress ministers in the provinces resigned in protest. As a consequence, Congress, with most of its leaders in jail for opposition to the Raj, lost its political leverage over the British. Muslim League, however, followed a course of cooperation, gaining time to consolidate. The British appreciated the loyalty and valour of the British Indian Army in which the majority were Punjabi Muslims. Muslim League's success could be gauged from its sweep of 90 percent of the Muslim seats in the 1946 elections, as against only 4.5 percent in the 1937 elections. The 1946 election was, in effect, a plebiscite among Muslims on Pakistan. In London it became clear that there were three parties in any discussion on the future of India, the British, the Congress, and the Muslim League.

Spurred by the Japanese advance in Asia and forceful persuasion from Washington, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's coalition war government despatched Sir Stafford Cripps to India with a proposal for settlement. The plan provided for dominion status after the war for an Indian union of British Indian provinces and princely states wishing to accede to it, a separate dominion for those who did not.

In August 1942, Gandhi launched the quit india movement against the British. Jinnah condemned the movement. The government retaliated by arresting about 60,000 individuals and outlawing Congress. Communal riots increased. Talks between Jinnah and Gandhi in 1944 proved as futile as negotiations between Gandhi and the Viceroy.

In July 1945, the Labour Party came to power in Britain with a large majority. The decline of British power and the necessity of retaining Indian links in imperial order limited their defence alternatives in India. General unrest in India spread, and, when a naval mutiny in Bombay broke out in 1945, British officials came to the conclusion that independence was the only alternative to forcible retention of control over an unwilling dependency. The viceroy lord wavell met with Indian leaders in Simla in 1945 to decide what form of interim government would be acceptable. No agreement was reached.

New elections to the provincial and central legislatures were ordered, and a three-man team (Cabinet Mission) came from Britain to discuss plans for self-government. The Cabinet Mission Plan, proposed by Cripps, represented Britain's last desperate attempt to transfer the power to a single Indian union. The mission put forward a three-tier federal form of government in which the central government would be limited to power over defence, foreign relations, currency, and communications; significant other powers would be delegated to the provinces.

The plan also prescribed the zones that would be created: northeastern Bengal and Assam would be joined to form a zone with a slight Muslim majority; in the northwest, Punjab, Sind, North-West Frontier Province, and Baluchistan would be joined for a clear Muslim majority; and the remainder of the country would be the third zone, with a clear Hindu majority. The approximation of the boundaries of a new Pakistan was clear from the delineation of the zones. The mission also suggested the right of veto on legislation by communities that saw their interests adversely affected. Finally, the mission proposed that an interim government be established immediately and that new elections be held.

Congress and the Muslim League emerged from the 1946 elections as the two dominant parties, although the Muslim League again was unable to capture a majority of the Muslim seats in the North-West Frontier Province. At first, both parties seemed to accept the Cabinet Mission Plan, despite many reservations, but the subsequent behaviour of the leaders soon led to bitterness and mistrust. Nehru effectively quashed any prospect of the plan's success when he announced that Congress would not be 'fettered' by agreements with the British, thereby making it clear that Congress would use its majority in the newly created Constituent Assembly to write a constitution that conformed to its own ideas.

The formation of an interim government was also controversial. Jinnah demanded equality between the Muslim League and Congress, a proposal rejected by the Viceroy. The Muslim League boycotted the interim government, and each party disputed the right of the other to appoint Muslim ministers, a prerogative Jinnah claimed belonged solely to the Muslim League.

When the Viceroy proceeded to form an interim government without the Muslim League, Jinnah called for demonstrations or direct action day on 16 August 1946. Communal riot broke out on an unprecedented scale, especially in Bengal and Bihar. The massacre of Muslims in Calcutta brought Gandhi to the scene, where he worked with the Muslim League provincial chief minister, huseyn shaheed suhrawardy. Gandhi's and Suhrawardy's efforts calmed fears in Bengal but rioting quickly spread elsewhere and continued well into 1947. Jinnah permitted the Muslim League to enter the interim government in an effort to stem further communal violence. Disagreements among the ministers paralysed the government, already haunted by the spectre of civil war.

In February 1947, lord mountbatten was appointed viceroy with specific instructions to arrange for a transfer of power by June 1948. On 3 June 1947, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee introduced a bill in the House of Commons calling for the independence and partition of India. On 14 July, the House of Commons passed the Indian Independence Act by which two independent dominions were created in the subcontinent; the princely states were given the option to accede to either of them. The partition plan stated that contiguous Muslim-majority districts in the Punjab and Bengal would go to Pakistan. A plebiscite was held in the Sylhet district of Assam, and, as a result, part of the district was transferred to Pakistan. A plebiscite was also held in the North-West Frontier Province. Despite a boycott by Congress, the province was deemed to have chosen Pakistan.

Throughout the summer of 1947, as communal violence mounted, preparations for partition proceeded in Delhi. Assets were divided, boundary commissions were set up to demarcate frontiers, and British troops were evacuated. The military was restructured into two forces. Law and order broke down in different parts of the country. Civil servants were given the choice of joining either country; British officers could retire with compensation if not invited to stay on. Jinnah and Nehru tried unsuccessfully to quell the passions of communal fury that neither fully understood. On 14 August 1947, Pakistan and India achieved independence.

Early difficulties In August 1947, Pakistan faced with a number of problems, some immediate but others long term. The most important of these concerns was the role played by Islam. Was Pakistan to be a secular state serving as a homeland for Muslims of the subcontinent, or was to be an Islamic state governed by the sharia, in which non-Muslims would be minority citizensFoodgrain The second question concerned the distribution of power between the centre and the provincial governments.

Above all other concerns were the violence and the refugee problem. Muslims were fleeing India; Hindus and Sikhs were fleeing Pakistan. About a million Muslims entered East Bengal from various parts of India, particularly from Bihar and West Bengal. Frequent communal riots flared up in Punjab and East Bengal. Jinnah's plea to regard religion as a personal matter, not a state matter, was ignored. The most conservative estimates of the casualties were 250,000 dead and 12 million to 24 million refugees. The actual boundaries of the two new states were not even known until 17 August, when a commission headed by a British judge announced them.

Partition and its accompanying confusion also brought severe economic challenge to the new state. Furthermore, Pakistan faced logistic problems for its commercial transportation. But the problem that proved most intractable was defining relations between the two wings of Pakistan.

Constitutional Beginnings' Although Jinnah led the movement for Pakistan as a separate Muslim nation, he was appalled by the communal riots and urged equal rights for all citizens irrespective of religion. Jinnah died in September 1948 only thirteen months after independence leaving his successors to tackle the problems of Pakistain's identity.

Jinnah's acknowledged lieutenant, liaquat ali khan, assumed leadership and continued in the position of prime minister. He failed in giving the new nation a Constitution because neither the Muslim League nor the Constituent Assembly was equipped to resolve in a parliamentary manner the problems and conflicts of the role of Islam and the degree of autonomy for the provinces. Liaquat's term of office ended when he was assassinated in Rawalpindi in October 1951. He was replaced by khwaja nazimuddin, who stepped down as governor general.

The Muslim League, unlike Congress, had not prepared itself for a post-independence role. Congress had constitutional, economic, social, and even foreign policy plans in place before independence, and was ready to put them into effect when the time came. The Muslim League was poorly prepared for effective government.

The effect of this lack of direction was shown most clearly when the Muslim League was routed in the 1954 elections in East Pakistan by the united front, a coalition of awami muslim league and Krishak Sramik Party led by two leaders, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and ak fazlul huq, who ran on an autonomist platform. Islamic parties also made their appearance on the electoral scene, most notably Jamaat-e-Islami.

Pakistan's first Constituent Assembly was made up of members of the pre-partition Indian Constituent Assembly who represented areas now within Pakistan. The body's eighty members functioned as the legislature of Pakistan. But the assembly could not reach agreement on objectives of the proposed constitution. The East Bengal leaders were unhappy about the power sharing system evolved so far.

During the years after Liaquat's assassination, none of the brewing problems were resolved, and a major confrontation occurred between the governor general Ghulam Mohammad, a Punjabi from the civil service, and the prime minister, Nazimuddin, a former chief minister of united Bengal and now chief minister of East Bengal.

The revived Constituent Assembly convened in 1955, differed in composition from the first such assembly because of the notable reduction of Muslim League members and the presence of a United Front coalition from East Bengal. Provincial autonomy was the main plank of the United Front. Also in 1955, failing health and the ascendancy of General Iskander Mirza forced Ghulam Mohammad to resign as governor general.

In 1956, the Constituent Assembly adopted a Constitution that proclaimed Pakistan an Islamic republic and contained directives for the establishment of an Islamic state. It also renamed the Constituent Assembly as the Legislative Assembly. The lawyer-politicians who led the Pakistan movement used the principles and legal precedents of a non-religious British parliamentary tradition even while they advanced the idea of Muslim nationhood as an axiom.

Basic Democracies' The political instability at the centre and in East Pakistan finally led to Ayub Khan's declaration of martial law in 1958. Ayub Khan's martial law regime was a form of 'representational dictatorship', but the new political system introduced in 1959 as basic democracies, was an apt expression of what Ayub Khan called the particular 'genius' of Pakistan.

In 1962, a new Constitution was promulgated as a product of that indirect elective system. Ayub Khan did not believe that a sophisticated parliamentary democracy was suitable for Pakistan. Instead, the Basic Democracies, as the individual administrative units were intended to initiate and educate a largely illiterate population in the working of government by giving them limited representation and associating them with decision making at a 'level commensurate with their ability'. Basic Democracies were concerned with no more than local government and rural development. They were meant to provide a two-way channel of communication between the Ayub Khan regime and the common people and allow social change to move slowly.

The Basic Democracies system set up five tiers of institutions. The lowest but most important tier was composed of union councils, one each for groups of villages having an approximate total population of 10,000. Each union council comprised ten directly elected members and five appointed members designated as Basic democrats. Union councils were responsible for local agricultural and community development and for rural law and order maintenance; they were empowered to impose local taxes for local projects. The other tiers were not politically important.

The system of Basic Democracies did not have time to take root or to fulfil Ayub Khan's intentions before he and the system fell in 1969. Whether or not a new class of political leaders equipped with some administrative experience could have emerged to replace those trained in British constitutional law was never discovered. And the system did not provide for the mobilisation of the rural population around institutions of national integration. Its emphasis was on economic development and social welfare alone. The authority of the civil service was augmented in the Basic Democracies, and the power of the landlords and the big industrialists in the West Wing went unchallenged.

Collapse of the Parliamentary System The parliamentary system outlined in the 1956 Constitution required disciplined political parties, which did not exist. Muslim League, the one political party that appeared capable of developing into a national democratic party continued to decline in prestige. In West Pakistan, Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province resented the political and economic dominance of the Punjab, and were hostile to the 'One Unit Plan' introduced by the Constituent Assembly. The One Unit Plan merged the western provinces of Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab, and Sindh into a single administrative unit named West Pakistan, which in the new Legislative Assembly was to have parity with the more populous province of East Pakistan.

In 1956, Suhrawardy formed a coalition cabinet at the centre that included the Awami League and the newly formed Republican Party of the West Wing, which had broken off from the Muslim League. Suhrawardy was highly respected in East Pakistan, but he had no measurable political strength in West Pakistan. By taking a strong position in favour of the One Unit Plan he lost support in Sindh, the North-West Frontier Province, and Baluchistan.

In October 1958, President Iskandar Mirza, with the support of the army, suspended the 1956 Constitution, imposed martial law, and canceled the elections scheduled for January 1959. Mirza was also supported by the civil service bureaucracy, which harboured deep suspicion of politicians. Nonetheless, on October 27 Mirza was ousted and sent into lifetime exile in London. General Ayub Khan, the army commander in chief, assumed control of a military government.

Ayub era In January 1951, Ayub Khan succeeded General Sir Douglas Gracey as commander in chief of the Pakistan Army, becoming the first Pakistani in that position. Although Ayub Khan's military career was not particularly brilliant and although he had not previously held a combat command, he was promoted over several senior officers with distinguished careers. Ayub Khan probably was selected because of his reputation as an able administrator, his presumed lack of political ambition, and his lack of powerful group backing. Coming from a humble family of an obscure Pakhtun tribe, Ayub Khan also lacked affiliation with major internal power blocks and was, therefore, acceptable to all elements.

Within a short time of his promotion, however, Ayub Khan became a powerful political figure. Perhaps more than any other Pakistani, Ayub Khan was responsible for seeking and securing military and economic assistance from the United States and for aligning Pakistan with it in international affairs. As army commander-in-chief and for a time as minister of defence in 1954, Ayub Khan was empowered to veto virtually any government policy that he felt inimical to the interests of the armed forces.

In 1958, a legal commission was set up to suggest reforms of the family and marriage laws. Ayub Khan examined its report and in 1961 issued the muslim family law ordinance. Among other things, it restricted polygamy and 'regulated' marriage and divorce, giving women more equal treatment under the law than they had before. It was a humane measure supported by women's organisations in Pakistan.

Ayub Khan adopted an energetic approach toward economic development that soon bore fruit in a rising rate of economic growth. Land reform, consolidation of holdings, and stem measures against hoarding were combined with rural credit programmes and work programmes, higher procurement prices, augmented allocations for agriculture, and, especially, improved seeds to put the country on the road to self-sufficiency in food grains in the process described as the Green Revolution.

The 1962 Constitution' In 1958, Ayub Khan had promised a speedy return to constitutional government. In February 1960, an eleven-member constitutional commission was established. The commission's recommendations for direct elections, strong legislative and judicial organs, free political parties, and defined limitations on presidential authority went against Ayub Khan's philosophy of government; so he ordered other committees to make revisions.

The 1962 Constitution retained some aspects of the Islamic nature of the Republic but omitted the word Islamic in its original version; amid protests, Ayub Khan added that word later. The President would be a Muslim, and the Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology and the Islamic Research Institute were established to assist the government in reconciling all legislation with the tenets of the Quran and the sunna. Since their functions were advisory and their members were appointed by the President, the Ulama had no real power base.

Ayub Khan sought to retain certain aspects of his dominant authority in the 1962 Constitution, which ended the period of martial law. The document created a presidential system in which he remained contemptuous of lawyer-politicians and handed over power to his fellow army officers. Ayub Khan used two main approaches to governing in his first few years. He concentrated on consolidating power and intimidating the opposition. He also aimed at establishing the groundwork for future stability through altering the economic, legal, and constitutional institutions.

Efforts were made to popularise the regime while the opposition was muzzled. Ayub Khan maintained a high public profile, often taking trips expressly to 'meet the people'. He was also aware of the need to address some of the acute grievances of East Pakistan. To the extent possible, only Bangali members of the civil service were posted in the East Wing; previously, many of the officers had been from the West Wing and knew neither the region nor the language. Dhaka was designated the legislative capital of Pakistan, while the newly created Islamabad became the administrative capital. Central government bodies, such as the Planning Commission, were now instructed to hold regular sessions in Dhaka. Public investment in East Pakistan increased, although private investment remained heavily skewed in favour of West Pakistan. The Ayub Khan regime was so highly centralised, however, in the absence of democratic institutions, the development that took place during his regime remained more or less a West Pakistan affair.

1965-War The 1965 war began as a series of border flare-ups along undemarcated territory at the Rann of Kutch in the southeast in April and soon after along the cease-fire line in Kashmir. The Rann of Kutch conflict was resolved by mutual consent and arbitration by the British, but the Kashmir conflict proved more dangerous and widespread. In the early spring of 1965, UN observers and India reported increased activity by infiltrators from Pakistan into Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan hoped to support an uprising by Kashmiris against India. No such uprising took place, and by August India had retaken Pakistani-held positions in the north while Pakistan attacked in the Chamb sector in southwestern Kashmir in September. Each country had limited objectives, and neither was economically capable of sustaining a long war because military supplies were cut to both countries by the United States and Britain.

On 23 September, a cease-fire was arranged through the UN Security Council. In January 1966, Ayub Khan and India's prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, signed the Tashkent Declaration, which formally ended hostilities and called for a mutual withdrawal of forces. This objectively statesmanlike act elicited an adverse reaction in West Pakistan. Students as well as politicians demonstrated in urban areas, and many were arrested. The Tashkent Declaration was the turning point in the political fortunes of the Ayub administration.

Six-Point Programme In February 1966, a national conference was held in Lahore, where all the opposition parties convened to discuss their differences and their common interests. The central issue discussed was the Tashkent Declaration. Most significant was the noticeable under-representation from East Pakistan. About 700 persons attended the conference, but only twenty-one were from the East Wing. They were led by sheikh mujibur rahman of the Awami League, who presented his famous six-point programme for the autonomy of East Pakistan. The Six-Points consisted of the demands that the government be federal and parliamentary in nature, its members elected by universal adult suffrage with legislative representation on the basis of distribution of population; that the federal government have principal responsibility for foreign affairs and defence only; that each wing have its own currency and separate fiscal accounts; that taxation occur at the provincial level, with a federal government funded by constitutionally guaranteed grants; that each federal unit control its own earnings of foreign exchange; and that each unit raise its own militia or paramilitary forces.

Ayub Khan reacted to the Six-Point Programme by alternating conciliation and repression. Disorder spread. The army moved into Dhaka and Khulna to restore order. In rural areas of East Pakistan, a curfew was ineffective; local officials sensed government control ebbing and began retreating from the incipient rural revolt. In February, Ayub Khan released political prisoners, invited the Democratic Action Committee and others to meet him in Rawalpindi, promised a new constitution, and assured that he would not stand for re-election in 1970.

On 25 March 1969, martial law was again proclaimed; General aga mohammad yahya khan, the army commander in chief, was designated chief martial law administrator (CMLA). The 1962 Constitution was abrogated, Ayub Khan announced his resignation, and Yahya Khan assumed the presidency. Yahya Khan soon promised elections on the basis of adult franchise to the National Assembly, which would draw up a new constitution. He also entered into discussions with leaders of political parties.

Yahya Khan and Bangladesh The new administration formed a committee of deputy and provincial martial law administrators that functioned above the civil machinery of government. The generals held power and were no longer the supporting arm of the civilians, elected or bureaucratic, as they had been throughout much of the country's history. In the past, every significant change of government had relied, in large part, on the allegiance of the military. However, Yahya Khan and his military advisers proved no more capable of overcoming the nation's problems than their predecessors. The attempt to establish a military hierarchy running parallel to and supplanting the authority of the civilian administration inevitably ruptured the bureaucratic-military alliance, on which efficiency and stability depended. Little effort was made to promote a national programme.

These weaknesses were not immediately apparent but became so as events moved quickly toward a crisis in East Pakistan. On 28 November 1969, Yahya Khan made a nationwide broadcast announcing his proposals for a return to constitutional government. General elections for the National Assembly were set for 5 October 1970, but were postponed to December as the result of a severe cyclone that hit the coast of East Pakistan. The National Assembly was obliged within 120 days to draw up a new constitution, which would permit maximum provincial autonomy. Yahya Khan, however, made it clear that the federal government would require powers of taxation well beyond those contemplated by the Six-Points of the Awami League. He also reserved the right to 'authenticate' the constitution. On 1 July 1970, the One Unit Plan was dissolved into the four original provinces. Yahya Khan also determined that representation to national assembly would be based on population. This arrangement gave East Pakistan 162 seats (plus seven reserved for women) versus 138 seats (plus six for women) for provinces of the West Wing.

The first general election conducted in Pakistan on the basis of one person, one vote, was held on 7 December 1970; elections to provincial legislative assemblies followed three days later. The voting was heavy. Yahya Khan kept his promise of free and fair elections. The Awami League won a massive victory in East Pakistan, for it was directly elected to 160 of the 162 seats and thus gained a majority in the National Assembly. The Pakistan People's Party won a large majority in the West Wing, especially in Punjab and Sindh, but no seats in the East Wing. In the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan, the National Awami Party won a plurality of the seats. The Muslim League and the Islamic parties did poorly in the west and were not represented in the east.

Any constitutional agreement clearly depended on the consent of three persons: Sheikh Mujib, accredited leader of East Pakistan, Bhutto of West Pakistan, and Yahya Khan, as the ultimate authenticator representing the military government. In his role as intermediary and head of state, Yahya Khan tried to persuade Bhutto and Mujib to come to some kind of accommodation. This effort proved unsuccessful as Mujib insisted on his right as leader of the majority to form a government, a stand at variance with Bhutto, who claimed 'two majorities' in Pakistan. Bhutto declared that his party would not attend the inaugural session of the assembly, thereby making the establishment of civilian government difficult.

On 1 March 1971, Yahya Khan, who earlier had referred to Mujib as the 'future prime minister of Pakistan', dissolved his civilian cabinet and declared an indefinite postponement of the National Assembly. In East Pakistan, the reaction was immediate. Strikes, demonstrations, and civil disobedience increased in tempo until there was open revolt. Directed by Sheikh Mujib, Bangalis declared that they would pay no taxes and would ignore martial law regulations on press and radio censorship. The writ of the central government all but ceased to exist in East Pakistan. As a reaction to Yahya's act, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared virtual independence of East Pakistan at a mammoth gathering at the Ramna Racecourse (now Suhrawardy Udyan) on 7 March 1971. Successful civil disobedience movement was launched from the following day.

However, Mujib, Bhutto, and Yahya Khan held negotiations in Dhaka in late March in a last-ditch attempt to defuse the growing crisis; simultaneously, General tikka khan, who commanded the Pakistani forces in East Pakistan, prepared a contingency plan for a military takeover and called for troop reinforcements to be flown in via Sri Lanka. In an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion, the talks broke down and on 25 March, Yahya Khan and Bhutto flew back to West Pakistan.

Tikka Khan's emergency plan went into operation. Roadblocks and barriers appeared all over Dhaka. Sheikh Mujib was taken into custody and flown to the West Wing to stand trial for treason. A regime of genocide was launched on 25 March by attacking universities and other places of resistance and killing indiscriminately teachers, students and political workers. The tempo of violence of the military crackdown during these first days soon developed into a full-blown war of liberation resulting in the emergence of independent sovereign Bangladesh. [Asha Islam]