Early Governments and the Constitution of 1956

 

Early Governments and the Constitution of 1956

The first government of
Unstable Parliamentary Democracy
 East Pakistan. He formed a coalition cabinet that included the Awami League and the Republican Party of the West Wing, a new party that was formed by dissident members of the Muslim League. However, President Mirza forced Suhrawardy to resign after he discovered that the prime minister was planning to support Firoz Khan Noon, leader of the Republican Party, for the presidency in the country’s first general elections, scheduled for January 1959. The succeeding coalition government, headed by Ismail Ibrahim Chundrigar of the Muslim League, lasted only two months before it was replaced by a Republican Party cabinet under .

President Mirza, realizing he had no chance of being reelected president and openly dissatisfied with parliamentary democracy, proclaimed martial law on
October 7, 1958. He dismissed ’s government, dissolved the National Assembly, and canceled the scheduled general elections. Mirza was supported by General Muhammad Ayub Khan, commander in chief of the army, who was named chief martial-law administrator. Twenty days later Ayub forced the president to resign and assumed the presidency himself.

The new charter notwithstanding, political instability continued because no stable majority party emerged in the National Assembly. Prime Minister Ali remained in office only until September 1956, when he was unable to retain his majority in the National Assembly and was succeeded by Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, founder of the Awami League of
Pakistan was headed by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan and it chose the seaport of Karāchi as its capital. Jinnah, considered the founder of Pakistan and hailed as the Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader), became head of state as governor-general. The government faced many challenges in setting up new economic, judicial, and political structures. It endeavored to organize the bureaucracy and the armed forces, resettle the Mohajirs (Muslim refugees from India), and establish the distribution and balance of power in the provincial and central governments. Undermining these efforts were provincial politicians who often defied the authority of the central government, and frequent communal riots. Before the government could surmount these difficulties, Jinnah died in September 1948.

In foreign policy, Liaquat established friendly relations with the
United States when he visited President Harry S. Truman in 1950. Pakistan’s early foreign policy was one of nonalignment, with no formal commitment to either the United States or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the two major adversaries in the Cold War. In 1953, however, Pakistan aligned itself with the United States and accepted military and economic assistance.
Liaquat was assassinated in 1951. Khwaja Nazimuddin, an East Pakistani who had succeeded Jinnah as governor-general, became prime minister. Ghulam Muhammad became governor-general. Nazimuddin attempted to limit the powers of the governor-general through amendments to the Government of India Act of 1935, under which
Pakistan was governed pending the adoption of a constitution. Ghulam Muhammad dismissed Nazimuddin and replaced him with Muhammad Ali Bogra, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, who subsequently was elected president of the Muslim League.

In the 1954 provincial elections in
East Pakistan, the Muslim League was routed by the United Front coalition, which supported provincial autonomy. The coalition was dominated by the Awami League. However, Ghulam Muhammad imposed governor’s rule in the province, preventing the United Front from taking power in the provincial legislature. After the constituent assembly attempted to curb the governor-general’s power, Ghulam Muhammad declared a state of emergency and dissolved the assembly. A new constituent assembly was indirectly elected in mid-1955 by the various provincial legislatures. The Muslim League, although still the largest party, was no longer dominant as more parties, including those of the United Front coalition, gained representation. Bogra, who had little support in the new assembly, was replaced by Chaudhri Muhammad Ali, a former civil servant in West Pakistan and a member of the Muslim League. At the same time, General Iskander Mirza became governor-general.

The new constituent assembly enacted a bill, which became effective in October 1955, integrating the four West Pakistani provinces into one political and administrative unit, known as the One Unit. This change was designed to give
West Pakistan parity with the more populous East Pakistan in the national legislature. The assembly also produced Pakistan’s first constitution, which was adopted on March 2, 1956. It provided for a unicameral (single-chamber) National Assembly with 300 seats, evenly divided between East and West Pakistan. It also officially designated Pakistan an Islamic republic. According to its provisions, Mirza’s title changed from governor-general to president

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