Volume 6, No. 2, February 2024
Editor: Rashed Rahman
Jinnah had certainly achieved the impossible by creating a sense of separate nationhood among the Muslims of India, but the composition of the Muslim League (ML) leadership did not provide the stuff needed for carrying forward the promise contained in the Pakistan Movement. The ML itself created a monster called the Establishment that has haunted Pakistan’s politics since then.
The vacuum in leadership after the death of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah started being filled by Liaquat Ali Khan, the Prime Minister (PM), but his lack of political calibre made him create a bureaucratic shield to sustain him in power. His challenges were not to confront the traditional opposition of the rigid, fundamentalist, orthodox Islamists but the ML leaders of East Bengal. The first Establishment was formed by PM Liaquat Ali Khan himself.
The Establishment consisted of three civil bureaucrats, namely Ghulam Muhammad, Iskandar Mirza and Chaudhry Mohammad Ali. All three were aged 53, 48 and 42 respectively at the hour of the creation of Pakistan when fate opened unprecedented opportunities for them. None of them belonged to the elite Imperial Civil Service (ICS) but closeness to Liaquat Ali Khan allowed them to create clout in the administration. The three bureaucrats had been introduced to Pakistan’s politics by Liaquat Ali Khan in his personal capacity and not through the ML or Jinnah. They hardly enjoyed access to Jinnah the Governor General (GG), and were viewed by the administration as Liaquat Ali Khan’s team.
The most ambitious, aggressive and intriguing among them was Malik Ghulam Muhammad (April 20, 1895-August 29, 1956). He was an Aligarh University graduate and joined government service as an officer of the Railway Accounts Service. A trained auditor, he moved to the Ministry of Finance when Liaquat Ali Khan became the ML-nominated Finance Minister in 1946 in the Nehru-led coalition government before Partition. Being senior to Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, another favourite of Liaquat Ali Khan in the Finance Ministry by 11 years of age, he created a rapport with Liaquat Ali Khan who picked him as the country’s first Finance Minister after the creation of Pakistan. Liaquat Ali Khan made him leave government service and got him elected to the Legislative Assembly, like himself, from the East Bengal Assembly after 1947.
Iskandar Mirza, the Defence Secretary, became the PM’s next favourite bureaucrat. In an unprecedented favour, the PM granted him the honorary military rank of Major General in 1950, although he had only briefly served in the army in his earlier career for only six years as an insignificant junior officer. He was the first Indian graduate of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and gained his commission in the British Indian Army on July 16, 1920. After six years’ service, he moved to the ICS in 1926 against the military quota and rose to become Joint Secretary of the Defence Ministry by 1947.
Chaudhry Mohammad Ali (July 15, 1905-December 2, 1980) was the least ambitious of the trio and meekly availed opportunities created by the ambitious manipulations of his two seniors as a beneficiary rather than an active player. He had joined the Audit and Accounts Service of the ICS in 1928 and rose to become Finance Secretary when Liaquat Ali Khan became Finance Minister in the coalition government of the Congress and ML before Partition. It was generally perceived by the Nehru administration that the man behind Liaquat Ali Khan’s effectiveness in the Cabinet was the Finance Secretary. He held a Master’s degree in Chemistry but was trained as an auditor by the government.
The first Establishment was thus created by the educated, liberal, nationalist, secular class itself. The development of the Establishment was in five distinct phases. Each phase transitioned into the next due to changing impetuses of the circumstances.
In the first phase only the three favourite civil bureaucrats accumulated power in the PM’s office, the ultimate beneficiary of which was Liaquat Ali Khan. This phase may be called the Civil Bureaucracy Establishment. There were three main reasons that contributed to the power of the bureaucracy-led Establishment. The first was the power vacuum created by a peculiar lack of political legitimacy of Liaquat Ali Khan. He had joined politics under the shadow of Jinnah, but Jinnah’s frail health put the entire burden of stabilising Pakistan in the wake of bloody riots following the partition of Punjab and resettlement of refugees who had been uprooted from their homes in India on his shoulders. By the time the dust of the resultant destabilisation had settled in 1948, Jinnah had become even more physically frail as he was suffering from the terminal disease of tuberculosis. As soon as Jinnah died, PM Liaquat Ali Khan struggled to fill the power vacuum. He was eclipsed by the personalities of the authentically established high profile leaders from East Pakistan, namely A K Fazlul Huq, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Khawaja Nazimuddin. Each one of them had remained PM of united Bengal with a population matching that of Pakistan. But Liaquat Ali Khan’s arrogant monopoly on power had by then discouraged A K Fazlul Huq and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, both politicians of much greater political standing than him, and they decided to quit the ML.
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (September 8, 1892-December 5, 1963) was a Bengali barrister who had studied law at Oxford. He had joined the Indian independence movement during the 1920s and joined the All India ML. He was elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1937. In 1946, Suhrawardy led the ML to decisively win the provincial election and remained united Bengal’s last PM from 1946 to 1947 until the Partition of India. He was revered as one of the country’s founding statesmen and in Bangladesh he is remembered as the mentor of Bangladesh’s founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. He was disillusioned with the outcome of the Pakistan Movement when Bengal was partitioned. He had based his career on Bengal regional politics but did not receive any share in power after Independence in 1947. Jinnah appointed Khawaja Nazimuddin as the first Chief Minister (CM) of East Pakistan, preferring him over Suhrawardy, because he was reluctant to accept Bengal’s division and continued living in Calcutta (India) for six months after Partition. He did not even take his seat in the Pakistan legislature.
A K Fazlul Huq (October 26, 1873-April 27, 1962) was popularly known as Sher-e-Bangla (Lion of Bengal). He was the first and the longest serving PM of Bengal from 1937 till 1943. His party, Krishak Praja Party (Tenants Party), had won 35 seats in the Bengal Legislative Assembly during the 1937 provincial elections and he had become PM with the support of the Bengal provincial ML. He was a key figure in the Indian independence movement and later the Pakistan Movement. In 1919, he had the unique distinction of concurrently serving as President of the All India ML and General Secretary of the Indian National Congress. A seminal moment in Fazlul Huq’s political career was the adoption of the Lahore Resolution at the All India ML’s annual session on March 23, 1940. When he arrived at the Lahore meeting, Muhammad Ali Jinnah remarked: “When the tiger (Huq) arrives, the lamb (Jinnah) must give way” (The Financial Express, Bangladesh, August 8, 2017). He was slightly estranged from Jinnah after the creation of Pakistan for “not working hard enough to ensure an undivided Bengal with Calcutta included” (“The Tiger of Bengal”, The Daily Star, April 25, 2014). He quit politics after achieving Pakistan but nevertheless remained part of the East Pakistan government from 1947 to 1952 as its Advocate General. He started parting ways with the ML government in disillusionment over the adoption of Urdu as the national language of Pakistan and general political discrimination felt in East Pakistan due to the dominance of the Civil Bureaucracy Establishment.
As compared to A K Fazlul Haq and Suhrawardy, Liaquat Ali Khan did not even have a safe electoral constituency in Pakistan. He had lost his political roots due to Partition. Liaquat Ali Khan had left behind a large estate, Karnal, in Uttar Pradesh (UP) in India, but did not have any territorial support base in Pakistan to elect him as a member of the Legislative Assembly. Even in his native Karnal he was little known till Jinnah gave him prominence in the ML and the Muslim community elected him against a Muslim reserved seat. Thus the stewardship of the ML was left in the hands of Liaquat Ali Khan and Khwaja Nazimuddin. Liaquat Ali Khan was an aggressive politician but Khawaja Nazimuddin was a soft-tempered person with a somewhat meek demeanour.
Liaquat Ali Khan’s other challenge was that he had to control the intriguing hold of well entrenched feudal aristocrats like Ayub Khuhro in Sind and Nawab Mamdot and Mumtaz Daultana in Punjab. They had complete control over the provincial Assemblies and were hardly dependent on Liaquat Ali Khan for their continuance in office.
Liaquat Ali Khan’s reliance on the Establishment was the natural consequence of his political insecurities. The second reason was the Interim Constitution, i.e. the Government of India Act 1935, which did not contain any system of checks and balances against abuse of power with ulterior motives. This factor too was rooted in the death of Jinnah, only a year after the creation of Pakistan. The legal status of Pakistan was that it came into existence as a result of the Independence Act 1947. Jinnah chose to adopt the provisions of the Government of India Act 1935 as the Interim Constitution till a regular Constitution could be framed. In his short tenure, Jinnah had accumulated all powers in the office of the GG, which he reserved for himself by making some amendments in the Government of India Act 1935.
Jinnah had amended the Government of India Act drastically with a purpose. He wanted to have extraordinary powers to control politics, governance and Constitution-making according to his vision of Pakistan. Every bill that was passed needed to be signed by the President of the Constituent Assembly. Jinnah also kept the position of President of the First Constituent Assembly with himself as the GG. He kept with himself the powers of disqualifying politicians and dismissing Assemblies. Article 10 of the Government of India Act 1935 empowered him even to dismiss the PM. Article 29 could be used to dismiss a provincial government. Article 92 allowed him to impose Governor’s Rule in any province. He also needed these powers to discipline the feudal lord-led provincial governments, particularly in Sind and Punjab, where the feudal aristocracy had supported the ML under a compromise made with him, but were not the blind followers of his ideology. Jinnah used the powers under Article 29(a) only eight days after the creation of Pakistan for dismissing the opposition government in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), where the ML had lost the elections held in 1946 but had won a referendum a year later mandating it to create Pakistan. After the death of Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, the Establishment entrenched itself in the office of the GG and used the powers reserved by Jinnah for himself to control politics. Thus the office of the GG became the hub of the Establishment in later years.
The third reason was the vested interest of all stakeholders to delay adoption of a permanent Constitution that would have created representative democratic governments. The roots of the First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan went back to 1946, a year before the creation of Pakistan, when elections for the Constituent Assembly of united India were held. The mode of elections of the united India Constituent Assembly was based on separate electorates. Its members had been indirectly elected by the provincial Assemblies through a system of proportional representation. The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly of united India was held on December 19, 1946, but the ML boycotted it since it demanded a separate Constituent Assembly for Pakistan. With the acceptance of the June 3, 1947 partition plan for Punjab and Bengal, a separate Constituent Assembly of those elected in 1946 was formulated for Pakistan. The First Pakistan Constitutional Assembly held its separate inaugural session in Karachi on August 11, 1947, three days before Pakistan became officially independent. It was addressed by Lord Mountbatten and later Jinnah took office as the GG of Pakistan.
Under the Independence Act 1947 the Assembly was given two tasks – to prepare a Constitution and to act as the Federal Legislature. As a constitution-making body, it was completely independent and passed constitutional bills by a simple majority. This Assembly was allowed to exercise all the powers that were formerly exercised by the Central Legislature of India. The Constituent-cum-Legislative Assembly was composed of two major parties – the ML representing all Muslims except for a few, and the Congress Party representing the 12 million Hindus in Pakistan. Initially there were 69 members in the Constituent Assembly but it was not able to work properly because its seats remained empty as Hindu and Sikh members migrated to India. Gradually its strength was increased to 79 to give representation to the Princely States joining Pakistan and refugees arriving from India. There was a clear majority of the ML in the Constituent Assembly, with 60 members out of the total 79. The second major party was the Pakistan National Congress with 11 members, and the third party was the Azad (Independent) Group with three members. Later two Azad Group members also joined the ML, decreasing its strength to one. Though there was no opposition in the Constituent Assembly but there were some elements that were critical of the League. On the left was Mian Iftikharuddin, a former Congress man and a communist, and on the right were the religious critics like Maulana Shabir Ahmad Osmani. Thus the ML had no constraints or hurdles in the smooth passage of the Constitution according to Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan.
It suited Liaquat Ali Khan to continue the system of indirect elections of federal legislators. He himself had been indirectly elected to the federal legislature by the East Pakistan Assembly, along with his blue eyed Finance Minister Ghulam Mohammad. Adoption of a Constitution by the country would inevitably have resulted in fresh universal adult franchise-based direct elections of the federal legislature. The absence of an electoral constituency was the Achilles heel of Liaquat Ali Khan. The Congress in India led by Nehru had framed the Constitution by the end of 1949 and settled all issues, but Liaquat Ali Khan wanted to continue ruling with the draconian powers contained in the Government of India Act 1935, the interim Constitution.
The Constituent-cum-Legislative Assembly too had a conflict of interest with the formation of a regular Constitution as they too would have to face new direct elections. Members of the First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan were simultaneously allowed to take seats in the provincial Assemblies and they could be CMs or members of the Central or provincial Cabinets, a unique privilege under the interim Constitution. The legislators from East Pakistan were particularly under blackmail as the ML had lost popularity in East Pakistan after Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy had formed a separate political party. Four years later, A K Fazlul Huq, the other dynamic leader of the Pakistan movement too formed the Krishak Sramik Party (Farmers-Labourers Party) to challenge the ML in East Pakistan.
The Constituent Assembly, for obvious reasons, was suffering from “an abnormally high rate of absenteeism” (Alan Palmer: Insight Guides: Pakistan, p 179) and had deliberated on Constitution-making for only 16 days per annum on an average (K K Aziz: Party Politics in Pakistan 1947-1958, pp 86, 87). The Constituent Assembly was widely criticised during Liaquat Ali Khan’s tenure as the PM for its indifference to Constitution-making. Addressing a rally in Lahore on October 14, 1950, Maulana Maududi demanded its dissolution, arguing that the “lamp post legislators” were incapable of drawing up an Islamic Constitution. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, the most authentic leader from East Pakistan, said that the Constituent Assembly did not possess any of the characteristics of a democratic parliament. He argued that the “nation would overlook any unconstitutional action on the Governor General Khawaja Nazimuddin’s part if he exorcised the fascist demon and established representative institutions” (Inamur Rehman: Public Opinion and Political Development in Pakistan, Karachi, Oxford, 1982).
The troika of the Bureaucratic Establishment exploited these three system flaws for its perpetuation. Later it included Nawab Mushtaq Gurmani also in its ranks. Gurmani was inducted in April 1950, when Bahawalpur State merged itself into Pakistan. Gurmani (1905-1981) had remained the PM of the princely state of Bahawalpur before Partition. After accession of the state to Pakistan, he was appointed a Minister without Portfolio in charge of Kashmir Affairs and later as the Interior Minister. His induction further helped the clique of three to completely assume control of the administration and politics.
The Establishment consolidated its hold on power gradually. The first move of the Establishment after the death of Jinnah was to extend Liaquat Ali Khan’s control on the office of the GG. He was advised by the Bureaucratic Establishment he had assembled around him to kick upwards a politically unambitious man Khawaja Nazimuddin as the GG. Liaquat Ali Khan accumulated all powers in the office of the PM with the cooperation of the new GG Khwaja Nazimuddin, who willingly accepted the superior political importance of Liaquat Ali Khan as the senior most leader of the ML after Jinnah. Thus Liaquat Ali Khan had both the important offices of the GG and the PM in his control by the end of 1948.
The next significant move of the Civil Bureaucracy Establishment, aimed at further consolidation of Liaquat Ali Khan’s hold on power, was to advise him to impose the Public Representative Offices Disqualification Act (PRODA). The notorious law PRODA was promulgated only four months after Jinnah’s death in January 1949, but made effective from August 14, 1947 to authorise the GG to disqualify politicians for as long as 10 years on the recommendation of the PM. Any incident of past or present misconduct or corruption could be made the pretext for ending the political career of a dissident legislator.
As politics rolled on, the Establishment was forced by circumstances to face the elections of Assemblies in Punjab and NWFP. After consolidating the hold on the Federal Government, now the Establishment needed to extend its control over the provinces. Liaquat Ali Khan needed to rig the elections of the provincial Assemblies for his own survival in politics. Due to the peculiar importance of the provincial Assemblies in the governing structure of the Federal Government, the Establishment inevitably needed to control these in order to consolidate its power. From July 1949 to October 1953, 27 new members of the Constituent Assembly continued to be inducted from time to time to give representation to refugees arriving from India and the people of the Princely States joining Pakistan.
It was necessary to manipulate the provincial Assemblies by electing Members who were easily pliable according to the wishes of the Establishment. The first playground of the Establishment was the Punjab Assembly. The composition of the Punjab Assembly suffered from a political anomaly. The ML members elected to it in the 1946 elections had scant ideological affinity with the ‘Two Nation Theory’ or the ‘Pakistan Movement’. They were feudal lords, who had adopted ML as their party but without adopting its ideology. Jinnah had successfully forwarded his message to the people of Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, but the rampant feudalism in the rural areas of Sind and Punjab erected a barrier before him. He had no choice but to convince the feudal lords controlling the rural population to join the Pakistan Movement through persuasion and political manoeuvring, rather than a popular movement. He was helped in it by influential educated and liberal feudal lords like Ayub Khuhro in Sind and Nawab Mamdot, Mumtaz Mohammad Khan Daultana and Sardar Shaukat Hayat in Punjab. On his behalf, these feudal lords reached out to other feudal lords affiliated with the Unionist Party like Sir Feroz Khan Noon to join the ML. The Unionist Party was a well-entrenched pro-British party founded by Sir Fazl-i-Husain (1877-1936) and all Sikh, Hindu and Muslim feudal aristocrats, title holders and privileged persons were its members. Earlier Jinnah had a bitter experience in the 1937 elections when ML could win only two out of 86 Muslim reserved seats when he contested against the Unionist Party. In the 1946 elections ML won 79 of the 86 Muslim seats, enabling it to claim that it was the sole representative of the Muslim community.
After the creation of Pakistan, Jinnah preferred Nawab Iftikhar Hussain Khan of Mamdot over others for being nominated as the CM of Punjab. Nawab Mamdot (December 31, 1906-October 16, 1969) had extensive estates in Ferozepur District in India but had been forced to migrate to Pakistan. He had remained President of the Punjab ML from 1942 to 1944 before Partition. He had helped Jinnah by encouraging fellow feudals affiliated with the Unionist Party to shift their support to the Pakistan Movement. On August 15, 1947, he was appointed as the first CM of Punjab. He continued in office, uncomfortably though, till Jinnah fell seriously sick, as Mumtaz Daultana, another feudal lord, started challenging him. After Partition, Nawab Mamdot too, like PM Liaquat Ali Khan, had left behind his constituency in India. Daultana exploited his political rootlessness by pitching a group of other feudal influentials against him. Nawab Mamdot also developed differences with Liaquat Ali Khan, who encouraged the Governor of Punjab Sir Francis Mudie, an Englishman, to discipline him. Mamdot called Mudie a “foreigner”, “pro-Unionist” and “pro-India” and in turn, Mudie alleged that he remained in power to get his hands on more property in exchange for his estate in India. Mudie in his reports to the Federal Government alleged that Mamdot was filing false claims for allotment of lands evacuated by Hindu refugees, in lieu of lands left behind by him in his estate in India. Only four months after the death of Jinnah, Nawab Mamdot was forced out of power with the dissolution of the Punjab Legislative Assembly and imposition of Governor’s Rule in January 1949 by Liaquat Ali Khan.
Mamdot reacted by parting ways with the ML in October 1950 and created the Jinnah League for contesting the elections to the dissolved Assembly. In the meantime Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, the mercuric colleague of Jinnah from East Pakistan too had quit ML and submerged himself in the regional politics of his province by forming the Awami League (AL), but he was still showing interest in West Pakistan politics. Both Nawab Mamdot and Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy merged their respective political parties to form the Jinnah Awami League. They had also enlisted the patronage of Fatima Jinnah, the sister of Jinnah, but she was persuaded by Liaquat Ali Khan not to publicly address the rival group’s public meetings. Liaquat Ali Khan felt severely challenged by the popularity of the new political alliance. Before the elections 800 Muslim Leaguers applied for party tickets for contesting 197 constituencies. All those aspirants who were refused the tickets joined the rival Jinnah Awami League, thus seriously challenging the prospects of the ML returning to power in Punjab. This would have certainly destabilised the government of Liaquat Ali Khan.
The Establishment, for the sake of winning the Punjab Assembly elections, extended itself to associate a senior police officer, Khan Qurban Ali Khan, the Inspector General (IG) of Police. Thus started the second phase of the Establishment, which may be called the Civil Bureaucracy-Police Establishment. Khan Qurban Ali Khan invented unique techniques to rig the elections of the Punjab Assembly in 1951. The Punjab Police under Qurban Ali Khan set the trend that was later replicated in NWFP by Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, the CM, with the help of IG Khan Abdul Rasheed Khan, personally loyal more to him than the Establishment at the Centre.
Elections of the dissolved Punjab Legislative Assembly were held on March 10, 1951, but are known as the most sham elections in the history of Pakistan. These elections earned the name of ‘Jhurloo (broom) Elections’. The elections were decided in the office of the IG of Police in Punjab Khan Qurban Ali Khan. The opposition candidates were intimidated and subjected to various atrocities including incarceration and physical torture. Those who still contested against the ML were swept away with a Jhurloo (broom) at the polling stations due to massive administrative interference. The ML won 143 seats, while the Jinnah Awami League could bag only 29. The pressure of Khan Qurban Ali Khan continued unabated even after the elections and another 23 MPAs crossed the floor and joined the ML, raising its strength in the Assembly to 166.
In order to conclusively annihilate the opposition, in its first meeting after the elections in April 1951, the ML Working Committee expelled 474 Muslim Leaguers from the party on ‘disciplinary grounds’. They had supported Nawab Mamdot during his Chief Ministership. Thus the Establishment now controlled the ML in the biggest province of West Pakistan. After this spectacular show of power, the feudal lords had totally surrendered to the Civil Bureaucracy-Police Establishment. The feudal lords joined this Establishment as its obedient tools and the ML in Punjab became the first ‘King’s Party’ controlled by the Establishment. As a consequence, submission to the Establishment became the inevitable trend for the future generations of Punjab’s feudal aristocracy.
Khan Qurban Ali Khan stayed not in his official residence but as a fully serviced guest in the villa of Nawabzada Saeed Qureshi. Mumtaz Daultana’s sister was married to Saeed Qureshi. Daultana used to address Qurban Ali Khan as “uncle”. Helpless Mamdot, from East Punjab in India, hardly had a chance against the new Establishment. Qurban Ali Khan was later to be rewarded with appointment as the Governor of NWFP and Chief Commissioner (equivalent to Governor) of Balochistan.
The Qurban Ali Khan precedent in Punjab prompted the CM of NWFP Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan to embark on an adventure of his own with the help of IG Khan Abdul Rasheed Khan. The story of NWFP joining Pakistan was different from that of Sind and Punjab. An anomalous political situation prevailed in the province. ML had won a referendum in the province on the question of NWFP’s inclusion in Pakistan in July 1947, but a year earlier, in the 1946 provincial elections, the All India Congress Party had come out victorious by winning 30 seats against ML’s 17. The mandate of the Congress CM Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan, popularly called ‘Doctor Khan Sahib’, to rule had been thus been tainted. He was the elder brother of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who had earned the title ‘Sarhadi Gandhi’ (the Gandhi of Frontier Province) due to his political closeness with Gandhi. Both the brothers had opposed the Pakistan Movement, favouring a united India.
After winning the 1946 elections, when the Pakistan Movement was at its peak, Doctor Khan Sahib committed a grave political blunder by inviting Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the PM of united India, to tour the province. Maulana Azad, a central leader of Congress, advised Nehru not to undertake this adventure as it could provoke the Muslim identity of the Pathans. In the freedom movement, NWFP was a backyard of politics, but the Pathans were alarmed at a Hindu PM touring their territory as a ruler. Pathans had ruled India for centuries and could not stomach it. As was predicted, the mobs stoned Nehru’s motorcade at several places and the general mood tilted towards Jinnah. In July 1947, the British colonial power held a referendum in the province to ascertain whether NWFP, a Muslim majority province, wanted to stay with Pakistan or India. Sensing obvious defeat, Doctor Khan Sahib committed another political blunder by boycotting the referendum on the ground that the Pathans should be given an option to form Pakhtunistan with Afghanistan. Maulana Azad in his book India Wins Freedom wrote that Gandhi and he were surprised when the Frontier Gandhi raised the slogan of Pakhtunistan for the first time ever, and only after Congress agreed to the division of India. Fifty one percent people participated in the referendum, defying the boycott call of the two brothers, and of these 99.02 percent voters favoured the creation of Pakistan. (These figures are disputed by the NWFP Congress and others as having been obtained by manipulation – Ed.)
Jinnah dismissed Dr Khan Sahib’s government on August 22, 1947, eight days after the creation of Pakistan, using the GG’s powers. Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan was installed as the new CM the next day. Khan Qayyum Khan was a Congress leader before joining the ML and had even written a book in 1945 criticizing Jinnah, which he pulled back from the publishing house before joining the ML on Jinnah’s invitation. Abdul Qayyum Khan, the CM of the minority government, navigated through the troubled waters ably, winning the defections of enough Congress legislators to support his government. In December 1951, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan was emboldened by the spectacular rigging of the elections in Punjab. He decided to call fresh elections to the NWFP provincial Assembly in order to gain political legitimacy for his rule. He tasked Khan Abdul Rasheed Khan, the IG of Police of the NWFP to follow Khan Qurban Ali Khan’s example of rigging the elections against Dr Khan Sahib’s National Awami Party (NAP).
The Establishment entrenched in the PM’s office saw it as an opportunity to attempt a grab of its own in the province. It had consolidated its hold in the Federal Government and effectively gripped the Punjab province and now wanted to extend its control to NWFP. It tried to pressurise Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan to let its favourites be awarded the ML tickets. But a very powerful and independent minded politician Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan frustrated the designs of the Establishment and defied it with his political grit. Unlike Nawab Mamdot in Punjab, he had deep roots in NWFP politics and was not ready to cave in. He had raised ML in NWFP as a party of the masses, rather than a party of influential feudal lords. He had by then curbed all opposition within the ML and minimised the influence of the Establishment’s favourites, Pir Manki Sharif and Pir Zakori Sharif to such a limit that both joined the rival Jinnah Muslim League of Nawab Mamdot in September 1949. Now he had an opportunity to politically dump the remaining group under Yusuf Khattak, a favourite of the Establishment. He did not even grant the party ticket to Yusuf Khattak, who was General Secretary of the central ML, in order to consolidate his hold on NWFP. Khan Abdul Rasheed Khan, like his colleague Khan Qurban Ali Khan in Punjab, employed the same Jhurloo tactics and Khan Abdul Qayyum won 68 out of 85 seats. Thirteen independently elected members too later joined the ML under pressure as had happened in the Punjab elections. Qayyum had accumulated all power in the province. In Punjab the Establishment had easily swept away the feudal power with the Jhurloo (broom) of Khan Qurban Ali Khan, but it had failed miserably in Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan’s NWFP.
In Sind also a very politically astute politician Ayub Khuhro blunted the Establishment’s moves even more effectively. Jinnah had enlisted CM Khuhro’s support for the creation of Pakistan and the Sind Assembly had accordingly backed the inclusion of Sind in Pakistan. But Jinnah’s influence on Khuhro was minimal and he continued his corruption, defying Jinnah’s warnings. Ultimately Jinnah used his powers as GG to direct the Governor to dismiss the CM in April 1948 on grounds of corruption. Khuhro revolted against Jinnah when in May 1948, the Constituent Assembly declared the capital Karachi as federal territory, cutting it off from Sind province. He fanned provincialism in Sind to defy Jinnah. Finally Jinnah had to personally intervene to make the ML Council approve the decision with 26 votes against five of the Khuhro group on May 3, 1948. Pir Ilahi Bux was inducted by Jinnah as the second CM. But Khuhro defeated the move by winning over the judiciary in Sind. Four months after the death of Jinnah, in January 1949, in a novel exercise of judicial power, an Election Tribunal hearing a petition against Pir Ilahi Bux’s election as a Member of the Sind Assembly in the elections held in 1946 before the creation of Pakistan, unseated him. PM Liaquat Ali Khan retaliated by disqualifying Khuhro from politics for three years in February 1949 under PRODA. But Ayub Khuhro defied Liaquat Ali Khan also by installing his proxy Yousaf Haroon as the third CM in February 1949. By then the Establishment had acquired roots in the PM’s kitchen cabinet, with Ghulam Muhammad calling the shots as Liaquat Ali Khan’s mentor. The Establishment responded by itself playing with the judiciary and the Sind High Court in May 1950 declared the Special Tribunal that had barred Khuhro from politics an unconstitutional body. Thus within a year and a half of the independence of Pakistan, three CMs were appointed in Sind and the judiciary came into play to dismiss two of them. Khuhro blunted the Establishment’s move by getting his next satellite, Qazi Fazal Ullah, elected as the fourth CM. Months later, in March 1951, Khuhro himself became the CM a second time and the incumbent Qazi Fazal Ullah accepted demotion to become the Minister of Revenue in his cabinet.
The defiance of Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan and Ayub Khuhro rattled the Establishment, which was already struggling with the disaffection and annoyance of the popular leadership from East Pakistan like Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and A K Fazlul Huq to West Pakistan’s dominance on power. The Civil Bureaucracy-Police Establishment’s inadequacies and deficiencies were exposed as the IG of NWFP supported Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, while in Sind Ayub Khuhro never let the IG play any disruptive role. The Establishment needed to be augmented with more power to counter the opposition. The Establishment initiated the induction of the army chief into it, thus broadening its base.
Iskandar Mirza (November 13, 1899-November 13, 1969) had till then been playing a subordinate role to Ghulam Mohammad. But he had quietly created a clout of his own in the army by exploiting his position as the Defence Secretary. He convinced PM Liaquat Ali Khan to promote Major General Ayub Khan out of turn and make him the army chief on January 17, 1951. He had been controversially promoted by superseding two senior officers, Major General Akbar Khan and Major General Ishfaqul Majeed. The Army Headquarters under General Sir Douglas Gracey, the last British chief of the Pakistan army, had not even recommended Ayub Khan’s name. Ayub Khan (May 14, 1907-April 19, 1974) was only 43 years old when he became the first native Commander-in-Chief of the army. With the induction of Ayub Khan, the Civil Bureaucracy-Police Establishment thus transitioned into the Civil Bureaucracy-Army Establishment on January 17, 1951, with Liaquat Ali Khan as its main beneficiary.
October 16, 1951 became a turning point for the fortunes of the Establishment in the history of Pakistan. On that date PM Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated in highly controversial circumstances. On that date, the Establishment directly grabbed the sovereignty of Pakistan from the ML politicians. The Establishment could not bypass Liaquat Ali Khan, but it had successfully made A K Fazlul Huq and Suhrawardy irrelevant. It only needed to remove the last stumbling block, Khawaja Nazimuddin, from its path. On the evening of October 16, Nawab Mushtaq Gurmani and Ghulam Mohammed, two Ministers, and Ayub Khan, the army chief, held a meeting in Rawalpindi to finalise the plan. Their target was to grab the position of GG from where authority flowed downwards and where all the control levers of power were plumbed by Jinnah. The Civil Bureaucracy-Army Chief Establishment wanted to stand on its own feet without the patronage of the PM. They decided to make Ghulam Mohammad the next PM and elevate him as the GG. Ayub Khan and Nawab Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani had no connection with the Pakistan Movement. He was the PM of the princely state of Bahawalpur and had only entered national politics after its accession to Pakistan. When the two Ministers and the army chief were planning their strategy, the GG Khawaja Nazimuddin was in Nathiagali hill resort. On return to the capital Karachi, he had no choice but to accede to their plan. Thus appeared on the scene a bureaucrat becoming the head of the Pakistani state, who in connivance with the army chief neither let democracy flourish nor the Constitution be made in Pakistan for the next three years. Both Ghulam Muhammad and Ayub Khan initiated a politics of intrigue and betrayal, even more intricate than ‘The Game of Thrones’ created by David Benioff and D B Weiss for HBO. But Khawaja Nazimuddin had plans of his own. He had seen through the game of the Establishment, hence decided to survive through the control of the PM over the ML legislative party. He increased his grip on it through Nurul Amin, his loyalist CM of East Bengal. Half of the ruling party was from his native Bengal.
The target of the Establishment too was the same, i.e. to control the ML itself. The Establishment, which had become stronger by then with Ghulam Muhammad becoming the GG and Ayub Khan as the army chief, strengthened its hold on the West Pakistan legislators. Punjab was already under its control but now they eyed Sind. The Establishment packed off Ayub Khuhro from Sind by imposing Governor’s Rule on December 29, 1951 under Article 29(a) of the Government of India Act 1935. The Establishment dispersed Khuhro’s camp by appointing Yousaf Haroon as High Commissioner to Australia and restricting Khuhro’s activities with intimidation. Both Khuhro and his right hand man Qazi Fazal Ullah were banned from politics for six and four years respectively by a Special Tribunal in 1953.
As the hold of the Establishment increased in Punjab and Sind, its effective power in the Federal Government was blunted by Khawaja Nazimuddin, the new PM who still controlled the ML. Khwaja Nazimuddin became an easier target as five years after the last elections in 1946, he had lost popular support in his home province East Bengal. He had become as politically destitute as Liaquat Ali Khan. Khwaja Nazimuddin (July 19, 1894-October 22, 1964) had been educated at Aligarh University and later at Cambridge University. He was the first East Bengal leader to be appointed as the GG in 1948, following the death of Jinnah. He was a seasoned politician who had held the office of PM of united Bengal from 1943 to 1945 before Partition. After the creation of Pakistan he became the first CM of East Pakistan. The Establishment now started grabbing power from Khawaja Nazimuddin with Ghulam Muhammad using the powers of the GG that Jinnah had reserved for himself for nation making. Only a year and five months later, on April 17, 1953, Ghulam Muhammad sacked Khawaja Nazimuddin under a decree of the GG. Khawaja Nazimuddin was intimidated by Ayub Khan to quietly accept his fate instead of taking the contest to the Legislative Assembly. He could have easily destabilised the politically rootless Establishment by joining the dissident group of A K Fazlul Huq and Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, carrying along with him the entire ML of East Bengal.
By 1953, the Establishment had grabbed control of the Federal Government when PM Khawaja Nazimuddin’s government was dismissed arbitrarily by GG Ghulam Muhammad, the Punjab government had been usurped with a massively rigged election, and Ayub Khuhro in Sind had been barred from politics.
The hold on Sind was further consolidated when the Jhurloo model of Khan Qurban Ali Khan was employed to massively rig the provincial Assembly elections held in 1954. After the elections, Pirzada Abdul Sattar was inducted as the CM in June 1954 and the remnants of the Khuhro and Qazi Fazal Ullah group timidly surrendered to the Establishment. Khuhro now started playing ball with the Establishment to politically revive himself. An opportunity knocked at his door soon. The First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan had reached a conclusion to merge the provinces in West Pakistan to make the One Unit Province of West Pakistan. On November 8, 1954 Khuhro replaced Pirzada as CM by promising to make the Sind Assembly approve the One Unit formula. He delivered his promise and was rewarded with induction in the first West Pakistan Government as a Minister. Thus since 1954 Sind too had become a conquered territory of the Establishment.
But Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan proved a hard nut to crack in NWFP. The Establishment wanted to detach him from his seat of power in NWFP, hence GG Ghulam Mohammad invited Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan to join the Federal Cabinet. But Khan Qayyum was a very shrewd man and no pushover. He defied the Establishment by grabbing even more power for himself by joining the Federal Government while keeping the NWFP out of the hold of the Establishment by making Khan Abdul Rasheed Khan, the IG of Police in NWFP, its CM. Qayyum Khan served as the CM till April 23, 1953. On the same date, Rasheed resigned from the police service and became the 8th CM of NWFP. He had joined the Imperial Police Service (IPS) and by 1946 had risen to be appointed as Assistant Inspector-General of Police Traffic Branch NWFP. He rose from the rank of a Superintendent of Police to become the IG of NWFP Police in 1951 within a span of five years. The ML in NWFP then elected an IG Police to become its provincial president, instead of a Muslim Leaguer. This was the first major setback for the Establishment and it also set a trend for the future. NWFP could never again be controlled by the Establishment. Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan stood like a rock against the Establishment during his later career also.
Year 1954 marked the beginning of the decline of the Civil Bureaucracy-Army Chief model of the Establishment. Its rot started from East Pakistan. The act of insultingly dismissing Khawaja Nazimuddin, the only authentic leader of East Pakistan who had been given a share in the Federal Government, became the root cause of discontentment of the Bengali majority population with the ML, already simmering with allegations that the Punjabi bureaucracy and army considered Bengal as their colony. The domination of the Ghulam Mohammad and Ayub Khan-led Civil Bureaucracy-Army Chief Establishment had taken anti-West Pakistan feelings to the highest peak. The elite civil servants assumed great importance under the Establishment’s rule, which adversely affected the country’s eastern wing. In 1947 there had been very few Bengali Muslims in the ICS, whereas the western wing had produced several dozens. Although equal recruitment from the two wings was national policy, by 1960 only about one-third of the members of the Civil Service of Pakistan (successor to the ICS) were Bengalis.
The first sign of political unity of East Bengal’s resentment was evidenced on the eve of PM Khawaja Nazimuddin’s sacking. Pakistan had been dumped by Bengalis on that date. Nurul Amin, the then CM of East Pakistan, was so annoyed with this action that he rushed to Karachi, refused to sit in the protocol car sent by the GG and went straight to Khawaja Nazimuddin’s residence to seek his approval for starting an agitation against Punjabi domination in the restive East Pakistan. Nurul Amin later disclosed in an interview with Daily Mashriq that extreme resentment prevailed against Ghulam Mohammad and the then army chief Ayub Khan who had connived in the sacking of Khawaja Nazimuddin (Lahore, April 15, 1973). Khawaja Nazimuddin advised him against launching the agitation, citing the fear of imposition of Martial Law.
The dismissal of PM Khawaja Nazimuddin’s government nevertheless created such a turmoil in East Pakistan that Ghulam Muhammad was forced by the circumstances to appoint another politician from East Pakistan as his successor. He chose Mohammad Ali Bogra, the Ambassador of Pakistan in Washington as the new surprise PM, under an expectation that he would lack the guts to resist the authoritarian control of the Establishment. It was the Establishment’s next and even bigger miscalculation. Mohammad Ali Bogra (1909-1963) belonged to an aristocratic family of Bogra, East Bengal, and had remained Parliamentary Secretary in Khawaja Nazimuddin’s government as the PM of united Bengal. Later on, in 1946, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, the next PM of united Bengal, appointed him as the Health Minister and then the Finance Minister. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, he was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly, but soon moved to the Foreign Service and was appointed as Ambassador in Burma in 1948, as High Commissioner to Canada in 1949 and as Ambassador to the US in 1952. The Legislative Assembly, which had become the ‘King’s Party’ of the Establishment after the dismissal of Khawaja Nazimuddin’s government, easily gave him a vote of confidence.
The resentment against the Establishment in East Pakistan had reached its peak in 1954, when provincial Assembly elections were held between March 8-12, 1954. By 1954, A K Fazlul Huq the old campaigner had come out of political retirement and formed the Krishak Sramik Party (KSP) (Farmer-Labour Party) to contest elections against the ML. Both Suhrawardy and Huq formed a formidable electoral alliance called the United Front. These were the first elections since 1946 when Pakistan became an independent country in 1947. The Bengal Assembly had been elected as part of the provincial elections in British India in 1946, which the ML had swept. But after the partition of Bengal, 34 seats were left vacant, but the unpopularity of the ML did not allow it to hold by-elections. The Assembly had completed its five year tenure in 1951, but fresh elections were avoided on one pretext or the other. The resentment against the Establishment manifested itself in the results of the elections. Even Khawaja Nazimuddin, the former PM of Bengal and the first CM of East Pakistan after independence, still contesting on a ML ticket, lost the election to A K Fazlul Huq. The ML CM of East Pakistan, Nurul Amin, was defeated in his own constituency by Khaleque Nawaz Khan by over 7,000 votes, with all the ML ministers losing their seats. The opposition United Front won a landslide victory with 223 of the 237 Muslim seats. The Establishment-sponsored ML candidates could win only nine seats in a house of 309, and even widespread rigging could not turn the tide. According to electoral rules a political party needed at least 10 seats to be assigned separate seats and recognised as such in the house. An independently elected legislator Chaudhry Fazal Qadir was persuaded to join ML for its survival in the Assembly. This poor showing was despite the last ditch efforts to request Fatima Jinnah, the sister of Jinnah, to tour East Pakistan. Bengalis punished anyone calling himself a Muslim Leaguer. The resentment against the Establishment turned into resentment against ML. The party had died much earlier in Dacca, its birthplace, and was put in the grave just seven years after Jinnah’s death.
Interestingly, the winning political party, the United Front, which won 223 seats in the 309 seat Assembly was led by Jinnah’s trusted lieutenants Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and A K Fazlul Huq. One of the elected legislators in the 1954 elections was Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, who was to become Bangla Bandhu, the father of the breakaway state of Bangladesh in 1971. The poor showing of the ML in East Bengal exposed another faultline in the Establishment’s governance model of retaining the ML as the ‘King’s Party’. After NWFP, East Pakistan had become the second province to defy the sway of the Establishment. Its hold on politics was restricted to Punjab and Sind provinces, where its capacity to rig the general elections and suppress dissent had momentarily made the feudal lords capitulate. But its defeat in East Pakistan exposed its weakness. By 1954, the Establishment’s control over ML had shrunk to Punjab and Sind, making it dependent upon the goodwill of the feudal aristocracy of the two provinces for its survival. Undercurrents of defiance had started appearing in these two provincial Assemblies also.
Neither Ayub Khan nor Ghulam Mohammad were politicians, hence used power tactics to suppress the popular mandate of A K Fazlul Huq, the new CM of East Pakistan. The Establishment used powers under Section 92(a) of the Government of India Act 1935 to impose Governor’s Rule only two months afterwards on May 30, 1954. Though Governor’s Rule had been introduced, yet the East Pakistan Legislature had not been dissolved, in the hope that the legislators would be intimidated into floor-crossing. Now was the turn of Iskander Mirza to be assigned that role. Iskander Mirza, the Defence Secretary, was appointed the Governor and N M Khan, a favourite bureaucrat of Ghulam Mohammad, was inducted as the Chief Secretary. A K Fazlul Huq, the proposer of the Pakistan Resolution at the historic 1940 ML convention at Lahore was dubbed as a traitor by two rootless personalities, Ghulam Mohammad the GG and Iskander Mirza the Governor.
Trusting Bogra was the biggest mistake of the Establishment under the prevailing situation of discontentment among legislators from East Bengal. He was personally a well-meaning, patriotic, honest man. The uncontrollable resentment in East Pakistan inevitably made the Bengali PM think about bringing some sanity to politics. The East Pakistan legislature’s election in 1954 resulted in new and stronger demands for the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. The United Front asserted that the East Pakistan members of the Constituent Assembly had become completely unrepresentative. The alliance demanded the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the holding of new elections. The meeting of the United Front parliamentary party on April 2, 1954 asked the East Pakistan members of the Constituent Assembly to resign and April 4 was observed as ‘Protest Day’ in support of this demand. Due to this atmosphere of hostility in East Pakistan fanned by Maulana Bhashani, the firebrand leader of the Awami League, the East Pakistan members could not venture to return to the province and had in effect been rendered “as political refugees in Karachi” (Deputy UKHC Dacca, 1954, April 8 Extract from Dacca Report, East Bengal Election March 1954-DO 35/5196, TNA London. Deputy UKHC Dacca, 19548).
Emboldened by the stance of the East Pakistan leaders, the West Pakistan politicians too started echoing their demand. On April 8, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the leader of NAP of NWFP too urged dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and demanded taking new representatives from East Pakistan. The provincial legislatures of Punjab (1951) and NWFP (1951), even during the period in which no opposition to the ML leadership existed, had mutedly started demanding fresh elections of the Constituent-cum-Legislative Assembly. The Punjab Assembly passed a resolution that demanded that the sitting members in the Constituent Assembly from Punjab should be replaced by members elected by the new Assembly. A similar resolution was passed by the NWFP Assembly after its election in 1951 (Muneer Ahmad: Legislatures in Pakistan, Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab, Lahore, 1960, p. 14). Thus except the sitting Constituent Assembly members from East Pakistan, all political parties and even Muslim Leaguers in the Punjab, Sind and NWFP provincial Assemblies also supported the demand of the United Front and it became a common cry.
The war of survival of the Civil Bureaucracy-Army Chief Establishment had begun. The GG and the PM tried in vain to convince the public with the argument that the existing Constituent Assembly derived its sanctity from the UK government’s announcement of June 2, 1947, which followed weeks of close negotiation between Lord Mountbatten, Jinnah and the Congress leaders. It argued that it was a permanent body and could not be replaced by a new Constituent Assembly. But this stance was self-contradictory because 27 new members of the Constituent Assembly were inducted from time to time on the pretext of giving representation to refugees from India and the Princely States joining Pakistan. The complexion of the Constituent Assembly had already changed since August 11, 1947, when the First Constituent Assembly held its session. PM Bogra took the same position in his speech on March 20: “This Constituent Assembly was set up with the primary duty of framing a Constitution for Pakistan (J R A Bottomley: Report to CRO London: East Bengal Election, March 31, 1954, DO 35/5196). He claimed that “the duty of the assembly was to complete its job of constitution-making” (UKHC, Karachi, 1954). His stance was that “there were was no provision in the Indian Independence Act and the Government of India Act for the election of a new Constituent Assembly. There was only a precedent of the election of the original Constituent Assembly that was chosen by the Provincial Assemblies” (UKHC, Karachi, October 25, 1954).
The situation gave a pretext to Bogra to speed up Constitution-making. He also felt emboldened to make a popular Constitution acceptable to the East Pakistan population. Bogra’s total attention was fixated on framing a Constitution acceptable to East Pakistan as early as possible. It was only at this stage that the Constituent Assembly that was suffering from inertia and lack of interest was suddenly made active by Bogra. He announced on April 6, 1954 that the Constituent Assembly had started meeting without interruption from a day earlier on April 5th. The Assembly, which had met for an average 18 days in a year since 1947 till Bogra was inducted as the PM in 1953, suddenly started working overtime. He tasked Chaudhry Mohammad Ali to negotiate a workable formula for the representation of East and West Pakistan in the Federal Legislature. On October 7, 1953, the Constituent Assembly agreed to the Principle of Parity between the East and West Pakistan legislators, what came to be known as the ‘Muhammad Ali Formula’. Thus the main stumbling block to agreement on a consensual Constitution was removed. This had been the main bone of contention between the eastern and western wings of Pakistan. This achievement was widely welcomed and helped the Constituent Assembly regain its popularity and political legitimacy.
But Bogra’s hidden agenda was something different. He wanted to reassert the PM’s authority in the new Constitution and clip the wings of Ghulam Muhammad by removing the GG’s powers of dismissing PMs, Ministers and CMs. He secretly hired a British constitutional expert, Sir Ivor Jennings, to silently draw up the draft of the Constitution, keeping the Indian Constitution framed in 1949 as the model. Simultaneously, with his diplomatic skills he quietly concentrated his efforts on convincing the Constituent Assembly members from East Pakistan to support his hidden mission of restoring parliamentary superiority over the Establishment, using the pressure of the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly as the pretext. To achieve his agenda he had secured the support of the members of the Constituent Assembly, especially from East Pakistan, with intensive negotiations, hence vociferously resisted the demand of the Assembly’s dissolution or the resignation of the Bengali members. He had even enlisted the support of former PM Khawaja Nazimuddin, an East Pakistan member, and called him to a meeting in the PM House where he supported the PM’s group of East Pakistan members against resignation (Leithwait: Note for Record, March 26, 1954). This was the first time Khawaja Nazimuddin had participated in a ML event since he fell from power in 1953.
Bogra had to proceed secretly to avoid the inevitable backlash from the Establishment. Sir Jennings worked equally discreetly and kept the draft a secret till the last moment. Interestingly, Suhrawardy had some indication about the activities of Bogra. He had to leave for Switzerland for medical treatment but stated while boarding the plane in couched words typical of his style: “The mood of the East Pakistan members of the Constituent Assembly could spring a surprise.” The Establishment did not notice the hidden message in it.
On the D-Day in October 1954, Bogra quietly left for the US on an official visit and an unsuspecting GG Ghulam Mohammad was on a foreign tour. A private member affiliated with Bogra’s anti-Establishment Bengali group introduced two bills, which were promptly passed by the Constituent Assembly. By then 35 constitutional provisions had been approved by the First Constituent Assembly but these last two were very lethal for the Establishment. One of these curtailed the powers of the GG to dismiss the government of the elected PM while the other granted writ jurisdiction to the constitutional courts to enforce fundamental rights and judicially review contentious executive actions. The GG was now bound by the advice of his Council of Ministers and the PM was empowered to dismiss Ministers (P.T.E: Pakistan: The Scene Today, The World Today, January, 1955, 11 (1), pp. 40-41). The two bills were hurriedly notified in the Official Gazette of Pakistan the same day to put a seal of authenticity on them.
Ghulam Mohamad hurriedly returned to Karachi and embarked on employing blunt intimidatory tactics to subdue the defiance of the Constituent Assembly and the PM. Bogra on the other hand extended his tour of the US to avoid facing Ghulam Muhammad and Ayub Khan. But he was urgently summoned back to Pakistan. General Ayub Khan narrated that Bogra was extremely scared of facing Ghulam Muhammad, hence sent Chaudhry Mohammad Ali and Iskander Mirza as his emissaries in the General’s presence to placate Ghulam Muhammad. But as they entered his office they were greeted with abuses and invectives. After tempers cooled, Bogra timidly entered the room. He too was greeted with invectives and made to agree to the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and formation of a new Cabinet of Ghulam Muhammad’s loyalists (Ayub Khan: Friends Not Masters, pp 50-54). Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, who later became PM, narrated a different version of the meeting. He dismissed Ayub Khan’s version as an effort to absolve himself of allegations of masterminding the operation. He said: “Ghulam Muhammad stood before Bogra with a revolver in his hand while General Ayub Khan too had a revolver (symbolically) in his hand standing behind a curtain and forced him to agree to the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly for fear of his life” (Safdar Mehmood: Muslim League’s Rule, p 327).
The Constitution-making task had been accomplished, but “just three days before the draft constitution framed by the Assembly was about to be reported in the house”, on October 24, 1954, suddenly the Constituent Assembly was dissolved by the GG who proclaimed that new representatives would be elected afresh as early as possible (Manchester Guardian, August 9, 1955; Choudhury, 1956; Newman, 1962). Earlier, Bogra had been made to sign on a paper at gunpoint that the Assembly had exceeded its mandate and that it had lost the confidence of the people. Simultaneously, Ghulam Muhammad imposed a ‘State of Emergency’ in the country and asked Bogra to form a ‘Government of Talent’. A list of Ministers was given to him at gunpoint. Ayub Khan was appointed the Defence Minister in the new cabinet. Thus in a first, an army chief became a Cabinet Minister, hence part of the political government. The presence of the army chief in the Establishment was thereby given a formal shape. The role of the Civil Bureaucracy in the Establishment was also made a formal reality by the induction of Iskander Mirza as the Interior Minister, the most powerful cabinet position. They easily dumped Khawaja Nazimuddin even deeper into political irrelevance, having lost the elections in East Pakistan, by giving him no government position in the new set up.
But these awkward patchwork manoeuvres exposed the intellectual bankruptcy of the Civil Bureaucracy-Army Chief Establishment. Bogra had forced the Establishment to land itself in an uncontrollable constitutional crisis, which ultimately caused its demise. The consequences of the adventure might have turned bad for Bogra’s intention to frame a popular Constitution, but politically he had dented the Establishment irrevocably. His biggest achievement was getting a consensual draft of the Constitution in 1954 passed from a house suffering from inertia and disinterest, during his short tenure. He had put the heads of Ghulam Mohammad, Ayub Khan, Iskander Mirza and Chaudhry Mohammad Ali on the chopping block and the process was unstoppable. The Establishment struggled to defend its legitimacy from that point onwards. The biggest loss suffered by the Establishment was that the unconstitutionality of its actions came into the public domain, drawing the judiciary into it to resolve the constitutional crisis.
These actions were followed up, though ineffectively, with palace intrigues. The corruption cases against Ayub Khuhro, the former CM of Sind, were withdrawn. The Establishment renewed contacts with Mumtaz Daultana to broaden its support base in Punjab. Interestingly Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, the most popular politician of East Pakistan, too obliged the Establishment and went to the extent of demanding the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly on the grounds that it had passed a Constitution that did not enjoy the mandate of East Pakistan. Earlier he had kept a diplomatic silence when the provincial government of his coalition partner, CM A K Fazlul Haq had been dismissed on May 30, just two months after winning a spectacular election. He was in Switzerland for treatment when the 1954 Constitution was approved by Bogra’s Constituent Assembly. It is alleged that famous journalist Z A Sulehri visited him as an emissary of the Establishment. Suhrawardy’s motive in cooperating with the Establishment was to crack the state of political limbo and stagnation prevailing in East Pakistan due to the imposition of Governor’s Rule. In his political estimation and analysis, the formation of the new Constituent Assembly would necessitate restoration of the suspended East Pakistan Assembly and lifting of Governor’s Rule.
Inevitably, Maulvi Tamizuddin, the President of the First Constituent Assembly, challenged its dissolution in the Sindh Chief Court, and won the case. The consequential boost received by the democratic forces was short lived. The Establishment went to the Federal Court, where the famous judgment was given by the then Chief Justice Muhammad Munir in the Maulvi Tamizuddin Case, which has been dubbed as the most controversial decision in the judicial history of Pakistan. The Court, with a majority of four to one, turned down the verdict of the Sind Chief Court (A C B Symon: UKHC Karachi to Gilbert Laithwaite, CRO London, DO 35/5116, TNA, London., March 23, 1955). Justice Munir’s court gave the judgment that the assent of the GG was necessary to all constitutional bills and that the GG’s power to dissolve the Assembly could not be ended with the passage of a bill by the Constituent Assembly (Federal Court of Pakistan, 1, 1957: Report on the Special Reference from Governor-General of Pakistan, in Sir Ivor Jennings: Constitutional Problems in Pakistan, Cambridge, The University Press, pp 264, 308-09). In the judicial battle the GG had stated his political stance about his role in Pakistan’s government, but the Constituent Assembly too had availed the opportunity to reiterate its claims of sovereignty in Constitution-making, in defiance of the GG’s perception. The judgment of the Justice Munir court was generally rejected by the legal community and the intelligentsia, who form public opinion in Pakistan.
This judgment plunged the country into uncertainty, confusion and constitutional chaos. The apparent victory of the Establishment became the cause of its defeat. The GG had to issue a plethora of Ordinances and directives with retrospective effect to rectify the anomalies and mistakes. The illicit intentions of the Establishment increasingly came forth in the public domain with each new Ordinance issued by the GG. It became apparent to the general public that the 1954 Constitution had developed a consensus on the supremacy of parliament, while the Establishment wanted to make it a controlled democracy by keeping all effective powers with itself.
The Establishment, operating through GG Ghulam Mohammad had started essaying a constitutional draft in accordance with its wishes. But the demise of the First Constituent Assembly, once legally confirmed by the Federal Court, necessitated the formation of a successor Constitution-making body that could ensure its adoption in the House. The crisis became extremely sharp from the end of 1954 till April 1955, specially in East Pakistan as no public representative from the province where a majority of the population lived, could budge from the wishes of the people fixated on getting rid of the Civil Bureaucracy-Army Establishment from West Pakistan. A strong demand, put forward by Maulvi Tamizuddin, gained popularity in both the East and West wings of Pakistan that the new Constituent Assembly should be elected by holding direct elections on the basis of universal adult suffrage.
But the Establishment was still toying with the idea of indirect elections. It was still hopeful of blackmailing the members of the suspended provincial Assembly in East Pakistan to elect members of its choice. The Establishment planned to continue the suspension of the Assembly and Governor’s Rule but make the provincial legislators cast votes by post to elect their representatives to the Constituent Assembly. It was a bizarre, unpopular idea to start with. The more the Establishment tried to wriggle out of a representative Constituent Assembly, the more political and constitutional squabbles it created.
In order to create a compliant Constituent Assembly, the GG decided to form a Constituent Convention instead of a Constituent Assembly. He announced to create the Constituent Convention partly with members elected by the provincial Assemblies by the method of proportional representation with a single transferable vote and partly by nomination by him (UKHC Karachi, April 17, 1955; Dawn, April 22, 1955). The GG issued an Ordinance on April 15, 1955 to regulate the powers, composition and method of election of the Convention. According to it, East Pakistan had to elect 30 members in a house of 60 on the principle of parity between the East and West wings of Pakistan. Punjab 23, NWFP three, Sindh four, Tribal Areas two and one each from Baluchistan, Khairpur State, Frontier States, Bahawalpur State and Karachi had to form the 30 members from West Pakistan. The GG further directed that the 60-member Constituent Convention would meet in Murree on May 10, 1955. The date April 30, 1955 was fixed for electing the Constituent Assembly according to the procedure of indirect elections adopted for the First Constituent Assembly (UKHC, Karachi, April 17, 1955; Dawn, April 22, 1955).
Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy at this stage put his weight behind the opposition and expressed disagreement with the division of seats in the Convention between East Pakistan and West Pakistan. He demanded that the numbers should be identical with those in the First Constituent Assembly, i.e. 44 for East Pakistan against a total of 32 for West Pakistan.
The Order of the GG was challenged in the Federal Court. Since the announcement of the judgment in the Maulvi Tamizuddin Case, the Federal Court too had come under pressure of public opinion. Resultantly the GG had to promulgate yet another Order on April 27 to amend the Constitution Convention Order of April 15 to overcome the legal lacunae. In order to satisfy the court, he was forced to expressly empower the Convention with legislative as well as Constitution-making powers under Section 8 of the Independence Act. He also increased its membership to 80, with 40 from each wing. The meeting date too was advanced to May 16. The number of members to be appointed by the GG was also raised to 10 to give representation to Balochistan, the Tribal Areas and the Princely States that had joined Pakistan (UKHC, Karachi, April 28, 1955).
But these Orders were rejected by the leaders from East Pakistan A K Fazlul Haq and Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, who continued calling for representation in proportion to population as in the First Constituent Assembly. Haq refused to take part in the Convention (Bottomley: April 23, 1955). He also refused to accept the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system of election. Adoption of the STV was claimed by the GG as justified because it repeated the procedure for the election of the original Constituent Assembly, but the East Pakistan leaders demanded total implementation of the 1946 formula, which gave representation according to population. They rejected partial and selective adoption of that formula. The Establishment however could not budge from the STV system due to the composition of the East Pakistan Assembly. It could have severe implications for its intentions of dominance in power.
Fazlul Huq’s faction of the United Front commanded an absolute majority of the Muslim seats in the East Pakistan Assembly and had at its disposal more votes than any other Muslim group in the Assembly. Under the system of simple ballot papers its entire panel might have been elected, to the exclusion of all other groups. The Awami League of Suhrawardy favoured the STV system for winning some seats in the Constituent Assembly. The Establishment had softened Suhrawardy to some extent since the imposition of Governor’s Rule in 1954 and wanted the Awami League to win some seats on the basis of the STV system. Suhrawardy was persuaded to attend the Convention by granting him STV elections. But the disputes on the Parity Principle and STV method of election had made the holding of the Constitution Convention highly improbable.
When the crisis reached its peak it created room for a henceforth compliant judiciary to defy the Establishment. The Federal Court intervened decisively in the famous Yousef Patel Case, wherein a very important question had been raised regarding the powers and jurisdiction of the GG in constituting the Constituent Convention. During the legal battle in the Maulvi Tamizuddin Case the Federal Court had shown sympathy for the GG but it had taken the occasion to assert another very important point. It had established its jurisdiction of Judicial Review. In the Yousef Patel Case, the Court used its Judicial Review powers and struck down the GG’s powers of creating the Constituent Convention as a replacement for the Constituent Assembly. The Court ordered formation of the Second Constituent Assembly by elections from the provincial Assemblies as before. It emphatically held that the GG could not interfere in the exclusive Constitution-making powers of the Second Constituent Assembly.
Accordingly the judicial intervention caused the formation of the Second Constituent Assembly on May 28, 1955 under GG’s Order No.12 of 1955, issued in compliance with the decision in the Yousef Patel Case. The strength of this Assembly was 80 Members, half each from East and West Pakistan. The delegates from Karachi and Baluchistan were also represented in it. Members from Karachi were elected by direct vote of the citizens of that city on the basis of universal adult franchise. The Electoral College for this Assembly was the provincial Assemblies of the respective provinces. Punjab had elected a new Assembly in 1951, followed by NWFP in 1951, Sind in 1953 and East Pakistan in 1954. The complexion of politics had drastically changed, particularly with the defeat of the ML in East Pakistan and an independent minded Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan’s dominance in NWFP. Resultantly merely 14 members from the previous Constituent Assembly-cum-Legislature could stage their comeback after it was reconstituted. Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, a Punjabi, the PM and part of the original troika of the Civil Bureaucracy, could be elected from East Pakistan with the help of Law Minister in his cabinet Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. Iskander Mirza, the other troika member from East Pakistan, could be elected from Punjab and Dr Khan Sahib from NWFP could be appointed as a representative of Baluchistan.
The problems of the Establishment multiplied when its frontman Ghulam Muhammad suffered two successive brain strokes in 1955, making him unable to talk or walk. After Ghulam Mohammad fell sick, Ayub Khan became the king maker. He brought in Iskander Mirza, his old associate in power games, to fill the vacuum. He forced Ghulam Muhammad to appoint Interior Minister Iskander Mirza as the Acting GG on August 7, 1955. Interestingly, the post of Acting GG did not exist in the interim Constitution, i.e. the Government of India Act 1935, but the Establishment had set on a course of desperate unconstitutional actions since the day it had arbitrarily stopped a consensual Constitution of 1954 approved by the Constituent Assembly from being implemented. A month afterwards, Mirza and Ayub Khan dismissed Ghulam Muhammad and Mirza took over as the regular GG on October 6, 1955. Ayub Khan had just returned the favour to Mirza by making him sit on Jinnah’s chair of GG. It was Mirza who as Defence Secretary had got Ayub Khan appointed as the army chief by superseding Generals senior to him. But this move did not make the Establishment less embattled.
Ayub Khan and Mirza could not trust PM Bogra anymore for Constitution-making, hence they forced him to resign on August 8, 1955. In order to effectively stop him from influencing the new Constituent Assembly, the Establishment dumped him as the Pakistan Ambassador to the US, from where he had been imported as the PM earlier. Mirza and Ayub Khan then inducted the third bureaucrat member of the Establishment, Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, as the PM. How intricate had the game of thrones become? Both Iskander Mirza and Chaudhry Mohammad Ali had appeared before GG Ghulam Mohammad as PM Bogra’s emissaries in 1954. A year later both had themselves occupied the chairs of the GG and PM respectively. But these placements proved inadequate to continue the hold of the Establishment on power. The new Constituent Assembly consisted of assertive members who were not ready to yield ground on the supremacy of parliament. The Establishment felt checkmated as Bogra’s 1954 Constitution had irreversibly made the powers of the GG indigestible by the Constituent Assembly members, particularly from East Pakistan. Besides the East Pakistan members, those belonging to Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan’s group and NAP in NWFP were not ready to compromise on the supremacy of parliament and its creation, the PM.
The overwhelming defeat of the ML in East Pakistan, in particular in the 1954 elections, had snatched the moral authority from the Establishment’s East Pakistan elements in the First Constituent Assembly. It had been felt since then that “if the government wanted to get a Constitution through with what can plausibly be represented as the support of East Bengal some sort of compromise would be desirable (Gilbert Leithwait: Note for Record: East Bengal Election March 1954, DO 35/5196, TNA, London, March 26, 1954). The creation of the Second Constituent Assembly in 1955 with the United Front legislators dominating it had further put pressure on the Establishment to make compromises.
The Establishment did make compromises. It tried to secure the cooperation of A K Fazlul Huq by dangling in front of the United Front the promise of lifting Governor’s Rule in East Pakistan if a coalition government was formed with the ML (UKHC, Karachi, October 14, 1954). Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, the President of Awami League, had already started cooperating with the Establishment earlier, as soon as Bogra had been sacked. Separately a compromise was made with Dr Khan Sahib, a sworn separatist of the Pakhtunistan Movement and brother of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the chief of NAP. In Punjab Mumtaz Daultana too was engaged in negotiations. He had been replaced by Sir Feroze Khan Noon as the CM after the 1953 anti-Ahmedi riots.
These adjustments notwithstanding, the adoption of a Constitution guaranteeing the supremacy of parliament could not be postponed beyond 1956. The Establishment compromised and reconciled itself to the new reality. But it needed to devise a new strategy to stay relevant. Thus appeared on the scene the idea to create an Established-owned ‘King’s Party’ and to position it so that no PM could gain a majority in the National Assembly without its support. Thus the first ‘King’s Party’ exclusively owned by the Establishment was created in the history of Pakistan. It was named the Republican Party (RP). It was raised by combining the feudal aristocrats of the ML parliamentary party from Punjab and Sind with tribal leaders of Baluchistan and Ministers of the old Bahawalpur State like Nawab Mushtaq Gurmani and Makhdoomzada Hassan Mehmood. They were merged with supporters of Dr Khan Sahib, who was made its President. Interestingly, GG Iskander Mirza himself became its Vice President. The prominent feudal lords joining it were Sir Feroz Khan Noon, Nawab Iftikhar Mamdot, Nawab Muzaffar Ali Qizilbash, Fazal Elahi Chaudhry (later President of Pakistan), Sardar Abdul Hamid Khan Dasti, Col. Syed Abid Hussain, Makhdumzada Syed Hassan Mahmud, Kazi Fazllullah, Pirzada Abdus Sattar, Mir Ali Ahmed Khan Talpur, Sardar Abdul Rasheed Khan (former IG), Nawab Akbar Bugti, Jam Mir Ghulam Qadir of Lasbela, etc. Thus the Establishment created a new party of its own to replace the ML as the King’s Party. The Establishment then transitioned into the Civil Bureaucracy-Army Chief-King’s Party Establishment.
Another trick played was to control the remnants of the ML through Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, an important member of the Establishment. He had already been inducted in the Constituent Assembly in January 1952 and had transitioned from a bureaucrat to a politician. In order to enable him to control the ML, he was made the PM. Thus the stage was set for the third bureaucrat in the Establishment, i.e. Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, to take over as PM on August 12, 1955, but only after a coalition of the ML, Awami League, Krishak Sramik Party and RP had been cobbled together to give him a vote of confidence in the National Assembly.
A K Fazlul Huq was inducted as the Federal Home Minister and Suhrawardy as the Law Minister. Interestingly, till only three months ago, A K Fazlul Huq was dubbed a traitor by the Establishment as the pretext for continuing Governor’s Rule in East Pakistan. Huq was later appointed as the Governor of East Pakistan in 1956 in lieu of obtaining his cooperation in installing an Establishment loyalist, Ataur Rehman Khan, as the CM of East Pakistan.
The draft of the 1956 Constitution was introduced in the Assembly on January 9, 1956 and was passed by it on February 29, 1956. The assent was given it by the GG on March 2, 1956. This Constitution was enforced with effect from March 23, 1956. Under this Constitution, Pakistan became an Islamic Republic and March 23rd became Pakistan’s Republic Day. It was the same day in 1940 that the historic Pakistan Resolution was adopted at Minto Park, Lahore. The Constitution provided for a parliamentary form of government with all the executive powers in the hands of the PM. The President was the Head of State and was to be elected by an electoral college consisting of all members of the National and provincial Assemblies. He was to hold office for five years. The President was to act on the advice of the PM, except where he was empowered to act in his discretion. Parliament was unicameral with the National Assembly (NA) comprising 300 Members divided equally between East and West Pakistan. In addition to these 300 seats, five seats were reserved for women for each of the two wings, for a period of 10 years, thus bringing the total membership of the House to 310.
Iskander Mirza was elected by the parliamentary electoral college as the first President on March 5, 1956, as part of the compromise. Dr Khan Sahib, the president of the RP too took his own share of power by being elected as the CM of West Pakistan. But the King’s Party model of indirect control on the government and parliament suffered from a basic flaw, hence it never delivered the desired results. The King’s Party, the RP, was raised mainly from West Pakistan. Hence it could not cancel out the democratic approach of authentic, honest and dedicated leaders like Suhrawardy and A K Fazlul Huq from East Pakistan. In East Pakistan the King’s Party was a tame and shy group of failed leaders provided the patronage of A K Fazlul Huq in a political bargain. He was appointed as the Governor of East Pakistan in 1956, in return for remaining quiet. The influence of A K Fazlul Huq and Suhrawardy in the Assembly put perpetual pressure on the Establishment to continuously increase the strength of the RP. But Chaudhry Mohammad Ali could not grab the ML in the presence of the old guard of Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan and I I Chundrigar. Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, in connivance with Ayub Khan and Mirza, continued secretly encouraging ever more Muslim Leaguers from West Pakistan to join the RP, but he was confronted by Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan and I I Chundrigar and his designs inevitably stood exposed. They both blocked all moves of the Establishment to establish its authority through Chaudhry Mohammad Ali. Chaudhry Mohammad Ali could survive for only 13 months in power. Ayub Khan and Mirza helplessly saw Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan and I I Chundrigar, the authentic leaders of ML, bring a motion of no-confidence in the NA on September 12, 1956 against Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, accusing him of secretly managing defections from ML in favour of the RP. Chaudhry Muhammad Ali defied his party by saying, “I am responsible only to the Cabinet and Parliament, not the party.”
The RP had by then become bigger than the ML before Chaudhry Muhammad Ali’s ouster. The Establishment now felt severely challenged. Iskander Mirza and Ayub Khan tried all their tricks after the fall of Chaudhry Mohammad Ali and appointed three more PMs in quick succession, but failed to turn the tide of parliamentary supremacy. After the sacking of Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, Iskander Mirza cobbled together a coalition of the AL and RP and invited Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy to form the next government. But the new PM, who had remained PM of united Bengal before the creation of Pakistan and was a prominent barrister, would not tolerate Mirza’s constant unconstitutional interference in the administration. Mirza demanded his resignation after threatening him with withdrawal of the RP from the coalition, but Suhrawardy insisted that he enjoyed a majority in the NA. Although the KSP and the ML had chosen to sit on the opposition benches, Suhrawardy was assured of their support to fail the conspiracies against him. The withdrawal of the RP from the coalition could not deter him. Thus the experiment of the King’s Party-Establishment merger proved a failure at its first road test. Suhrawardy was finally pressured by Ayub Khan into tendering his resignation a year after being appointed on October 17, 1957.
After Suhrawardy’s ouster the Establishment was left with no other option but to offer the support of the RP to I I Chundrigar, the ML Leader of the Opposition and make him the PM. Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar (September 15, 1897-September 26, 1960) was born in Godhra, Gujarat in India and was a disciple of Jinnah. He had joined the ML in 1936 on Jinnah’s instructions and was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly in the 1937 and 1946 elections. Jinnah had named him Commerce Minister in united India and he was retained in the position in the administration of PM Liaquat Ali Khan after the creation of Pakistan. In the government of Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, he was appointed as Minister of Law and Justice. He was a hard constitutionalist and democrat and set on the course of reforming the electoral college of federal legislators. The King’s Party, i.e. the RP, was dismayed by his plans and he resigned after a mere 59 days on December 11, 1957, after losing support of the majority.
The Establishment finally brought the RP itself on the front and Malik Feroz Khan Noon was appointed the PM on December 16, 1957. But the RP model’s weaknesses started surfacing from as early as March 1958, three months later. The rot started from East Pakistan and spread to the Federal Government, mainly due to the defiance of the East Pakistan politicians. In East Pakistan a King’s Party had been artificially created and Ataur Rehman Khan was appointed as the CM. In order to win over the support of A K Fazlul Huq, he was appointed Governor of East Pakistan in 1956. The experiment miserably failed in March 1958, when Ataur Rehman Khan failed to get his budget passed in the provincial Assembly due to a revolt in the coalition. Governor of East Pakistan Fazlul Huq dismissed his government and in retaliation the Establishment sacked him. Fazlul Huq installed Abu Hussain Sarkar, his nominee from the KSP, as the new CM. He too was sacked by the Establishment. Thus within two days one Governor and two CMs had been dismissed. The King’s Party had failed and Ayub Khan had to move the army to control the resultant riots, lawlessness and political restlessness.
In the Federal Government the RP had started showing visible signs of defiance by early 1958. Feroz Khan Noon dilly dallied under pressure of his coalition partners, particularly Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, in granting an extension in service to Ayub Khan as the army chief. The tenure of the army chief under the rules was three years but he had continuously held the slot for seven years since 1951. He had reached superannuation and desperately needed another extension in service. After promulgation of the 1956 Constitution, the extension had to be recommended by the PM. He had to strive hard to overcome the hurdle of the opposition of the coalition parties of East Pakistan and had to visit the offices of the Defence Minister, Ayub Khuhro, and the PM, Feroz Khan Noon, several times to move the file. Finally he got the recommendation, and on June 9, 1958, Ayub Khan was granted the extension.
Iskander Mirza too was unsure of his re-election as President. According to the 1956 Constitution, the Presidential election had to be held soon after the next election of the NA by adult franchise. The general elections had been planned to be held in February 1959, on expiry of the five year term of the Legislative Assembly. He had reasons to believe that even the RP in the new Assemblies would not give him a second term. The general mood on the streets had changed and the people wanted to get rid of the Establishment. In the meantime, the ML, led by two authentic politicians I I Chundrigar, the former PM from East Pakistan, and Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan from West Pakistan, had gained immense popularity in West Pakistan and the RP’s prospects of retaining the seats in the elections had diminished. Both had already announced their refusal to grant another term in office to Mirza. He could expect no favour from Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and A K Fazlul Huq, likely to win the elections in East Pakistan.
The only escape route available to Ayub Khan and Iskander Mirza was to pressurise Noon to postpone the elections. But he too had joined his coalition partners in defiance. It was time now to end Malik Feroz Khan Noon’s government by threatening him with the loss of the support of the RP but he showed more resilience than Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. Noon was a barrister from the Inner Temple in England and came from an aristocratic landowning family. He was a seasoned politician who enjoyed deep connections with the feudal aristocracy of Punjab since they were together in the Unionist Party of Sir Khizer Hayat Tiwana and Sir Sikandar Hayat since the 1920s. In 1946, the fortunes of the ML had changed in Punjab when Noon joined the ML with his faction of the Unionist Party. In 1947 he became a member of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. After the 1953 anti-Ahmedi riots, PM Khawaja Nazimuddin appointed him as the third CM of Punjab, replacing Daultana. With his aristocratic links, in 1955 he was in the forefront in forming the RP at the behest of the Establishment. However, when challenged by the Establishment, he demonstrated his firm grip on the RP, the only group in the House that could make him lose the majority. His coalition partners, the AL, NAP and KSP, stood firmly behind him. Hence bringing a no-confidence motion against him did not remain an option. The King’s Party formed with the landowning feudal aristocracy itself had revolted against the Establishment.
The game seemed up for the Establishment. The only way out for the Establishment was to wrap up the Constitution itself to stay in power. The President had no powers in the 1956 Constitution to impose Martial Law, but Mirza and Ayub Khan did it arbitrarily on the midnight of October 7-8, 1958. Mirza abrogated the Constitution, dissolved the National and provincial Assemblies, declared Martial Law and appointed Ayub Khan as the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Ayub Khan and Mirza needed to stop the general election scheduled for early 1959 at all cost.
The Establishment once again rewound itself to the previous status of Civil Bureaucracy-Army Chief Establishment by dumping the King’s Party. Only a fortnight later President Mirza realized his mistake of concentrating a disproportionate amount of power in the hands of Ayub Khan, but it was too late for him to reverse it. During this period, the mistrust between Ayub and the President had also grown, as Ayub Khan had started bypassing the President in all dealings with the Americans. Mirza tried to stage a comeback and announced in the media that martial law would be lifted in the shortest possible duration. He said: “I did not mean to do it,” as if he was the man in charge. In order to throw a bait to Ayub Khan, he appointed him PM. Simultaneously he made moves to approach Generals in the Army and the chiefs of the Navy and Air Force to broaden his support base. They all informed Ayub Khan of Mirza’s chicanery. While Ayub Khan was on a visit to East Pakistan on October 20, he contacted his friends in the Army for retrieving the initiative. Mirza’s time was up. Three weeks after the abrogation of the Constitution, Ayub Khan dispatched a military unit to enter the President’s House on the midnight of October 26-27, 1958. Three Generals, Lt-General Azam Khan, Wajid Ali Burki and Khalid M Sheikh, put Mirza on an airplane to London to live in exile.
Ayub Khan made himself the President and promoted himself as Field Marshal a year later on October 27, 1959, to perpetually remain the army chief. The Establishment became the Army Establishment only. A year earlier he had named a Cabinet of three Lieutenant-Generals and eight civilians, including a young attorney, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto had emerged in the political arena when he was inducted into President Iskander Mirza’s first martial law cabinet on October 8, 1958 and Ayub Khan retained him in his Cabinet too. He was to immensely influence politics in the years to come.
Mirza lived in poverty in England, depending upon his retirement pension of £ 3,000 as a former military officer and President. Foreign dignitaries such as Ardshir Zahedi, the Shah of Iran, Lord Inchcape, Lord Hume and Pakistani billionaires tried to make his life in exile tolerable. At the London hospital where he died, he said to his wife, Nahid: “We cannot afford medical treatment, so just let me die” (Sherbaz Khan Mazari: A Journey to Disillusionment, Oxford University Press, 1999).
The story of evolution of the Establishment from 1950 to 1958 in fact is the story of the political decline of the modern, westernised, secular, nationalist Islam. The ML as a political movement died in 1958 and the Establishment became its public face. Secular, modern, liberal nationalist Islam as a political ideology had reached its weakest moment on October 8, 1958, only a decade after reaching its zenith on August 14, 1947.
Army chief Ayub Khan consolidated the Establishment as GHQ’s exclusive property by formally kicking out civil bureaucrats from the power corridors. He dismissed 84 powerful civil servants with one stroke to end the bureaucracy’s ambitions for all times. Many in the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) and Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) were investigated and punished for corruption, misconduct, inefficiency, or subversive activities. Ayub Khan’s message was clear: the army chief , not the civil servants, was in control. He thus erected a new civil bureaucracy, subordinate to the political power.
Ayub Khan also took ownership of the ideals of the Pakistan Movement by introducing secular, modern, progressive reforms to the Constitution and the laws. On March 1, 1962, Ayub Khan enforced a new Constitution in which the word “Islamic” was dropped from the nation’s official name. Pakistan was defined merely as the “Republic of Pakistan” to underscore the intent of the Constitution. He also expunged the Objectives Resolution from the Constitution in 1963. Thus he made the nationalist, modern, secular, educated, progressive class of Muslims also the property of the Army Chief Establishment. He enforced the Waqf (endowment) Properties Ordinance of 1959, nationalising the shrine endowments and resultantly ending the influence of the Sajjada Nasheens, Gaddi Nasheens and Mashaikh (descendants of Sufi saints). Next he enforced progressive laws like the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, the Child Marriage Restraint Act and Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act in 1961. These laws empowered women, especially in the matters of marriage and divorce. The new laws required men who desired a second wife to seek formal consent from the first wife and unauthorised polygamy became a punishable crime. It prescribed a lengthy legal process for divorce to protect the rights of women. It made registration of marriages or divorces, mandatory. The Army Chief Establishment became the nationalist face of Pakistan.
The writer is a retired officer of the Police Service of Pakistan and has a keen interest in political science and jurisprudence. He has remained the head of intelligence agencies in three out of four provinces of Pakistan, namely Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. He is an expert observer and analyst of emerging political issues in Pakistan and regularly contributes analytical and researched writeups on related subjects in the national press.