Post-Independence Colonial Impacts on the Political Development of Pakistan: The Bureaucracy

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Bibliographic Information
Journal Grassroots
Title Post-Independence Colonial Impacts on the Political Development of Pakistan: The Bureaucracy
Author(s) Shaikh, Irfan Ahmed, Bashir Ahmed Jatoi, Abdul Rahman Nizamani
Volume 53
Issue 1
Year 2019
Pages 42-56
Full Text Crystal Clear mimetype pdf.png
URL Link
Keywords British Colonial Rule, Bureaucracy, India, Pakistan
Chicago 16th Shaikh, Irfan Ahmed, Bashir Ahmed Jatoi, Abdul Rahman Nizamani. "Post-Independence Colonial Impacts on the Political Development of Pakistan: The Bureaucracy." Grassroots 53, no. 1 (2019).
APA 6th Shaikh, I. A., Jatoi, B. A., Nizamani, A. R. (2019). Post-Independence Colonial Impacts on the Political Development of Pakistan: The Bureaucracy. Grassroots, 53(1).
MHRA Shaikh, Irfan Ahmed, Bashir Ahmed Jatoi, Abdul Rahman Nizamani. 2019. 'Post-Independence Colonial Impacts on the Political Development of Pakistan: The Bureaucracy', Grassroots, 53.
MLA Shaikh, Irfan Ahmed, Bashir Ahmed Jatoi, Abdul Rahman Nizamani. "Post-Independence Colonial Impacts on the Political Development of Pakistan: The Bureaucracy." Grassroots 53.1 (2019). Print.
Harvard SHAIKH, I. A., JATOI, B. A., NIZAMANI, A. R. 2019. Post-Independence Colonial Impacts on the Political Development of Pakistan: The Bureaucracy. Grassroots, 53.


The ethos of every postcolonial country was shaped by the way in which it secured its independence, therefore in analyzing the political development of Pakistan from its creation one must consider the related development of India prior to Partition, exploring the nature of colonial rule and it’s far reaching impacts on the political development of Pakistan after independence. While India has seen innumerable kingdoms rise and fall and many waves of invasions, the British encroachment in India from the 18th century onwards, particularly the direct incorporation of India as the jewel of the British Empire in 1857, was unique in that it wrenched the locus of political and economic control away from the Subcontinent to Europe. However, many British residents in India ‘went native’, by adopting local religion and culture. The British loved India, whether residents such as Rudyard Kipling or the ruling elite in Britain (e.g. Queen Victoria had Indian servants and companions). The British cultivated an elite group of administrators from the powerful indigenous landowners and middle-class professionals (the latter of whom were mainly from Hindu castes), which helped the British to consolidate their vested interests to strengthen their rule in India. The amalgamated British army consisted of Indian and British soldiers under the command of British officers. This paper discusses in detail the impacts of British colonial rule in the Subcontinent with special reference to post-independence Pakistan drawing on archival records and other written materials on the subject.


The prevailing ethos of postcolonial nations generally reflects the way in which they secured independence, therefore when considering the political development of Pakistan, it is essential to study the independence and Partition of India, which further entails consideration of the nature of colonial rule in British India and its far-reaching impact on the political development of the three nations that were ultimately born from this regime. The organization of British rule in India in 1757 was unique in South Asian history in several respects, mainly pertaining to the fact that former conquerors always envisioned settling within India itself, becoming an organic part of its life and destiny, and not merely expropriating (and expatriating) its wealth in exchange for the questionable benefits of imperial rule. In other words, India was never pulled into a political and economic situation in a way its point of control lying outside the geographical domains of the Subcontinent, nor was it never ruled by a class which was or which remained alien to its origin and character prior to the British occupation, although prior to 1857 the ‘White Mughals’ did begin to be go native (however, the subsequent arrival of the Mem sahibs and the consolidation of the colonial administration erected stringent ethnic barriers) (K.S.Shelvanker, 1940:216). After extirpating what remained of the Mughal administration, British rule in India was consolidated by incorporating big landowners and native professional elites in the civil service and armed forces (with officers in the latter invariably being British) (Ibid:217-70).

The Government of India Act (1858) was in fact a belated incursion of the British government in the colonial affairs of India, having long been inert despite increasing pressure to regulate the de facto imperial possession from the late eighteenth century, reflected in intermittent acts of Parliament such as the Regulating Act (1773), the Amending Act (1781), Pitt’s India Act (1784) and the Charter Act (1833). However, the accrual of ‘imperial’ sovereignty by Victoria, who became ‘Empress’, heralded a comprehensive overhaul of bureaucratic rule and a significant increase in cultural imperialism. During the nineteenth century, the British Government adopted a policy of strengthening its military and administrative services to have a firm control over law and order (J.G.Furnivall, 1956) which was the overriding priority to maintain control of the supply of raw materials and markets for British manufactured goods. While the Indian Army was always an implicit factor in the context of British rule, day-to-day rule (including raising taxes to pay for the military occupation itself) was implemented by the Indian Civil Service (Percival Spear, 1949:149). In consolidating its rule in India, the British Government fostered an elitist educational system based on recommendations made by Macaulay to produce an educated native caste of intermediaries between the government and the indigenous population, which while Indian in blood and color would be English in taste, morals, intellect and opinion (Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1952:729). British Government established an elaborate system of communication to facilitate the development of British industries in India besides moving finished goods to the lengths and breadths of India and throughout the world (Percival Spear, 1949:149). As a result of all these developments, by the end of the nineteenth century the traditional civilizations of India had been successfully uprooted (mainly by the exclusion of the alumni of traditional Islamic and Brahmanic education, who traditionally formed the elite of South Asian society, from the professions and the civil service), and a modern nation state on the Western model and ethos was emerging, with a middle class of citizens occupying diverse kinds of professions like teachers, lawyers, clerks, doctors and technicians. However, this class was increasingly discontent with shouldering the burden of effective governance while being relegated to second-class status in what they came to consider their own country, and they began to engage with issues of governance, such as by questioning legislation such as the Vernacular Press Act, the Arms Act and the Ilbert Bill. Several forums and societies were established to voice public opinion on several issues, some of the most important of which were the Indian Association of Calcutta (1876) and the Indian National Union (1883), which was renamed the Indian National Congress in 1885. The clear majority of the new middleclass segment involved in this movement consisted of Hindus (Mustafa Chowdhury, 1988:26).

The low prevalence of Muslims among the new middle class relative to Hindus was due to their late acceptance of English education, which was vaguely appreciated to constitute accepting submission and subjugation to the new regime, and they suffered from a general collective trauma after the failed Mughal Restoration Attempt of 1857, which resulted in the brutal suppression of the Muslim elite (Gopal Ram, 1959:). The British cooperated generally non-Muslim natives (particularly Hindus as a group) as allies in their project to dismantle Mughal governance and traditional Indian civilizations, harvesting a cadre of ‘black haired Englishmen’ who could better traduce the traditional ideologies of the Subcontinent, reducing its plethora of religious and ethnic communities (including Hinduism itself as a comprehensive philosophy of public import) to backward and embarrassing vestiges of a decadent civilization. Due to their general legacy as rulers, and as punishment for their ‘Mutiny’ against the British occupiers, Muslims were not recruited to soldiering and administrative positions in serious numbers for decades. For instance, in Bengal in 1871, where the numbers of Hindus and Muslims was almost equal, among the 773 Indians holding important posts in government there were only 92 Muslims (K. B. Sayeed, 1968:13-14). Conversely, a hundred years previously all top state offices were held by Muslims (W.W.Hunter, 1945:161).

While the Hindus were the main beneficiaries of the Mutiny, becoming indispensable to British administration, the Muslims found they were being reduced to second class citizens, thus what remained of the Muslim elite began attempting to establish a modern educational system that preserved their religious tradition, most notably pioneered by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), who was one of many substantial scholars attempting to fuse Islamic tradition and modern Western education in 1875, he instituted the Anglo Oriental College in Aligarh, which fostered the Annual Muslim Educational Conference in 1886, which represented the Muslim interest in India until the creation of the Muslim League in 1906. As the Indian National Congress was controlled by Hindus, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan dissuaded Muslims from participating in it (R. Coupland, 1944). This was also because the continual agitation by the Congress to further enfranchise Indians in various branches of governance would further disadvantage Muslims. However, a significant section of Muslim opinion, including Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), favored working alongside Hindus, emphasizing the need for Hindu-Muslim cooperation to restore native rule on Indian soil. From the 1890s the Congress became more vociferous in its criticisms of the British. In 1905, the partition of Bengal which was accomplished at the behest of Muslims deepened the gap between the British and the Congress. Eventually, British concessions like the Reform Act of 1909 and the annulment of the partition of Bengal in 1911 weakened the position of the extremists in Congress (Mustafa Chowdhury, 1988:27).

The Muslim League was founded in Dacca in 1906 to voice the opinion of the Muslims. In 1909, the Morley-Minto Reforms gave the Muslims the right of separate representation in all the governmental bodies in the local, provincial as well as the central levels. From that time, the Muslim League shifted its attention from fighting for a responsible government to furthering the sectional interests of the Muslims. The annulment of the partition of Bengal in 1911 made the Muslims conclude that their welfare could be promoted only through the Muslim League. In 1913 the League signed a resolution that the attainment under the aegis of the British Crown for the sake of self-government was highly suitable to India (R. Coupland, 1944). Several Muslims started understanding that the British could never safeguard their interests while the Congress was strongly agitating for Indian Home Rule. Due to the historical support of Indian Muslims for the Ottoman Caliphate, during the First World War the British Government was highly sensitive to the potential for unrest among Indian Muslims. The two renowned brothers, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar (1878-1931) and Maulana Shaukat Ali (1873-1938) started a powerful agitation attacking the British policy. All these developments compelled the Muslims to seek further alliance with the Hindus. Jinnah forced the Muslim League to establish a common understanding with the Indian National Congress. Such developments were clearly mirrored in the 1916 Lucknow Pact, which recorded the acceptance by Congress of separate Muslim representation in the various legislative bodies besides, granting Muslims some exclusive safeguards (K.B.Sayeed, 1968:38-42). The Khilafat Movement (1919) and the brutal suppression of the Punjab riots brought the Muslims and the Hindus closer together than at any time before. Gandhi (1869-1948) took part in the Khilafat Movement and called for non-cooperation to convey mass opposition to the British government. Unfortunately, during the aftermath of 1920, events like the Malabar Uprising (also known as the Moplah Rebellion) (Ibid:54-58) later fostered bitter divisions between the two communities, which became the justification for continued British suzerainty. While Gandhi had created Hindu-Muslim alliance, it broke down when he called off the non-cooperation movement when his supporters killed a policeman. Due to this, Muslims started feeling that they were betrayed. Earlier the Muslim League did not take part in the Khilafat Movement, but it was revived in 1924. The League continued to be dominated by big landowners and the upper middle class, with the main objective of protecting the interests of the Muslims by pressing the government for a separate Muslim electorate, seeking more weightage for their votes and gaining provincial autonomy. When the Nehru Report of 1928 did not give room for a separate Muslim electorate, and discouraged claims for more representation, Jinnah rejected it (Ibid:63-75). During the Round Table Conferences held between 1930-32, the League continued to stress the same objectives (Ibid:75-7). The outcome of the Round Table Conference was a frustrating experience for Jinnah. He decided to retire from politics as he felt it was futile to attempt to strengthen the position of Muslims. However, in 1934, upon his return from London, he took several measures to strengthen the League. He understood that a strong organization was necessary to force the Congress to safeguard the Muslim interests in a self-governing India (L.F.Rushbrook Williams, 1966:24). Since many Muslim groups did not cooperate with the Muslim League, this was not an easy task for him (Hafeez Malik, 1963:269-92). In some provinces where the Muslims were in the majority, the League could not get the support of the Muslim Leaders (L.F.Rushbrook Williams, 1966:24).

In the election campaign of 1937, Jinnah attempted strategic measures to empower the Muslim League. Congress won the elections in eight of the eleven provinces, but was not willing to share power with the non-Congress Muslims (R.Coupland, 1944). This made Jinnah to think of ways to unite the Muslim community so that the Muslim League could emerge as a powerful organization. In a resolution passed in 1940, the Muslim League declared that the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India must together make Independent States enjoying sovereignty and autonomous stature (K.B.Sayeed, 1968:38-113). Since the Muslim League’s demand for a separate homeland for Muslims appealed to the diverse groups of Muslims in India, the League took the shape of a nationalist coalition of different groups and interest. By the year 1945, Jinnah succeeded in transforming the Muslim League as a powerful organization which helped him to capture the major number of Muslim seats in the 1945-46 elections (Ibid:176-219). At this point, it needs to be mentioned that following the 1940 Lahore Resolution, the League mainly worked for securing independence rather than creating a program to build a new state (Ian Stephens, 1967:69-181). However, the salient features of the League that later wielded a strong influence on the political development of Pakistan were discernible.

The primary factor is that League was not a homogenous kind of establishment. Several groups became attached to the League during the struggle for independence. In the second place, it was a strongly centralized set up and reflected Jinna’s concern that without a strong political organization it would impossible to safeguard and promote the interests of Muslims. While conceiving the idea behind the League according to a certain core principle, he essentially wanted it to become a mass organization. While committees were formed in the provincial, district and local levels in different parts of India, the ultimate power of the League rested in the hands of the president and the parliamentary committee of action (K.B.Sayeed, 1968:176-219). The center exerted a strong control over the provincial wings of the League, and Jinnah himself had authority over the most important decisions pertaining to the League. Also, none could question any decision taken by Jinnah. On the other hand, the scene was totally different with the Congress. The political decision regarding the partition was taken by Gandhi, Nehru (1889-1964) and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950). Though he wanted to do so, Nehru could at no point dominate the Congress, since there were numerous substantial personalities in the Congress throughout its history, whereas the Muslim League was more an akin to a conglomeration of wealthy landlords and officials retired from service (Hugh Tinker, 1967:104). Following the Lahore Resolution of 1940, the League was fully concerned about securing independence and therefore did not formulate any action plan for the building of a new state. During the 1945-46 elections, several young men pressed hard on Jinnah to develop a holistic political and social program for the new state (K.B.Sayeed, 1968:208), but Jinnah did not subscribe to this idea, stating that there would be enough time after the independence to concentrate on such affairs. He said it was not the time to think of domestic programs prior to securing Indian independence. According to him, the country had neither a boundary nor a government during those days, so it was not an appropriate time to think about nation building (Jamiluddin Ahmed, 1947:393).

It is necessary to note that the Muslim population and its leaders had little understanding of parliamentary government, and they were generally complacent about the need for substantial popular participation in politics. Under the 1919 Act four provincial elections took place, with only three percent of people making up the electorate; under the 1935 Act, two provincial elections took place with about 14 percent people only made up the electorate. Before 1940 the Muslim League was not a mass party, rather it was an executive committee considered to represent the Muslim interest. Therefore, the elections agendas featured a lot of communal and personal issues, and not solid programs for nation building. The elections of 1945-46 saw a reversal in the trend with larger participation, but the leaders were not well prepared to benefit from this fact, since the Partition happened just a year later. The following discussion sheds light on some of the barriers to development in Pakistan, particularly the imbalance between political and administrative development (Mustafa Chowdhury, 1988:30-31).

Political Development in Pakistan, 1947-58

As discussed earlier, Pakistan began its journey as an independent nation under the 1935 Government of India Act; furthermore, a few modifications were effected with the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which in fact dictated how the parliamentary federalism would be employed to organize public power. The Indian Act of Independence (1947) also set up a Constituent Assembly to make a Constitution for Pakistan, pending which the Assembly was given the authority to function as the central legislature, at which time it exerted its power to make some modifications in the Government of India Act (1935), as well as the Indian Independence Act (1947). In this move, the centralized structure of the Government of India Act (1935) remained untouched. This Act had bestowed sufficient discretionary powers and responsibilities to the Governor-General, however unlike in Pakistan, the Governor-General did not have any discretionary powers under the Act of 1935; the Governor-General of Pakistan also had few emergency powers, mentioned in Section 102 of the adapted Government of India Act of 1935. During times when the emergency powers remained in force, the country ceased to be federal and automatically became a unitary system of government (G.W.Choudhury, 1956:243-52). The provincial government too had the same structure as that of the central government. It was the Governor-General who had to appoint the Governor, who functioned as the titular head of given provinces. He would have to act as per the advice of the cabinet. At the same time, he could also exercise some emergency powers upon discretion, as directed by the Governor-General. Being the executive head of the province, the governor was not directly controlled by the province. In this regard, we need to acknowledge the significance of the 1935 Government of India Act. To conclude, during the first decade of independence, Pakistan’s political system was parliamentary and federal only in an official sense (Mustafa Chowdhury, 1988:31-32).

When Pakistan embarked on its independence, the conditions were thoroughly unfavorable (Symonds, 1949:77-78). Some of the immediate challenges faced by the country included a deficient administrative set up, an acute refugee problem, a lack financing, and a poor system of communication and transportation. While the same difficulties were faced by India, their magnitude relative to available human and material resources was exponentially greater in Pakistan, whose leaders were fully occupied with the formation of the Constitution and organizing the national government. When Jinnah assumed the office of the first Governor-General of Pakistan, he had a mammoth task in front of him. As he acted like the de facto executive, his powers were essentially those of the Governor-General of India, except that the roles were reversed, with the Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan (1895-1951) being the titular head and Jinnah the real executive power. While in India the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers had to exercise their executive powers in a parliamentary type of governance, this was not so in Pakistan. The presence of Quaid-i-Azam deterred the Prime Minister and his council of ministers from performing their actual roles. Jinnah at once played three important roles, namely the President of the League, the Governor-General of Pakistan and the President of the Constituent Assembly, thus he personified the emerging state of Pakistan. The people of Pakistan reposed their total faith in Jinnah and invested him with the messianic mission of making Pakistan strong. Though brief, his tenure was marked by a stage where all his decisions were binding on the nation (Mustafa Chowdhury, 1988:32). As K.B.Sayeed pointed out, Jinnah personified Pakistan as long as he was alive; the powers he assumed were in fact far beyond those sanctioned by the emergent Constitution. He was the supreme arbitrator between the provincial and the central governments. Liaquat Ali Khan could become the de facto Prime Minister only after Jinnah’s death in September 1948 (Khalid B. Sayeed, 1967:62).

Following Jinnah’s death, Khwaja Nazimuddin (1894-1964) was made the Governor-General, which resulted in the normalization of the role and the restriction of its authority, while Liaquat Ali Khan could correspondingly enhance the power and position of the office of the Prime Minister and give life to parliamentary conventions. Furthermore, while the Governor-General’s de jure powers were retained, some sections of the Indian Independence Act were set to expire. Through an election process, Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan (1889-1963, the Deputy Speaker of the Constituent Assembly, became the speaker. These developments dispersed the power formerly invested in Jinnah among three offices, namely that of the Governor-General, the President of the Constituent Assembly, and the Prime Minister. According to Keith Callard, this trend had obvious impacts in 1953 and l954 (Keith Callard, 1957:21). Evidently, Liaquat Ali Khan could initially control the government and the Muslim League as well as the Constituent Assembly (Ibid:22), but he became a miserable failure on issues like the Kashmir problem, evacuee property, canal waters, economic matters and the on-going muhajir problem (which resulted in the entrenchment of divisions between locals and muhajirs). Additionally, the nation could never come to a consensus regarding the Constitution. The result was felt in the developments whereby the provinces grew tired of the inefficiency of the center and therefore raised several protests. Following Liaquat Ali Khan’s death in 1951, Khwaja Nazimuddin became Prime Minister, quitting the office of Governor-General. Though he retained most of the members of the earlier cabinet, he chose to include Chaudhury Mohammad Ali (1905-1980) in the cabinet as the Finance Minister. Ghulam Mohammad (1895-1956), the new Governor-General, was afraid that Nazimuddin might emerge victorious in the elections and oust him from his office, thus he sought to undermine him from the outset. Nazimuddin, a former member of the Muslim League who hailed from Bengal, was a pious and highly diligent public servant, but he could not control the wily members of the cabinet who were well experienced with the parliamentary system and the art of administration (Mustafa Chowdhury, 1988:33).

Nazimuddin was perceived as ineffective in dealing with the language riots in East Bengal in 1952 and during the outbreak of the Ahmadiya riots in Punjab in 1953. The food situation in the country was yet another challenge he did not solve. Thus, the Governor-General accused Nazimuddin and his cabinet of incompetence, thus he forced the cabinet to dissolve and he directed the reformation of a new cabinet (Keith Callard, 1957:22). Upon his behest, Mohammad Ali Bogra (1909-1963), Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, assumed the office of Prime Minister. He chose to retain six of the outgoing members in his cabinet. He was non-partisan, and his appointment as Prime Minister was the executive decision of the Governor-General; such developments are indicative of the severe lack of leadership qualities in the League. This period marked the beginning of a long epoch in the history of Pakistan when the office of Governor-General (later President) was the supreme authority (Mustafa Chowdhury, 1988:34).

The actions of the Governor-General could never be challenged by the Muslim League, despite its significant majority in the Constituent Assembly. The house was then composed of two major parties, namely the Muslim League with 60 seats, and the Congress with 11. The Constituent Assembly, which was in fact little more than a debating society for landlords, entrepreneurs and lawyers, never challenged the executive government. Furthermore, despite being dominated by the ‘Muslim League’, its members in fact had numerous different agendas, thus they could never decide on any major cohesive strategy to address national issues (George Kahin, 1963). The Muslim League’s irrecoverable downfall in East Bengal in the March 1954 elections revealed that East Pakistan strongly repudiated the League’s leadership.

In September 1954 legislation was enacted by the Constituent Assembly to limit the authority of the Governor-General, so that the office could only function as per the advice of the cabinet. It also gave room for the cabinet members to be selected from the members of the national legislature. This blatant attempt to circumscribe the power of the Governor-General resulted in him issuing a proclamation to dissolve the Assembly. The proclamation stated: “the Governor-General having considered the political crisis with which the country is faced has, with deep regret, concluded that the constitutional machinery has broken down. He, therefore, has decided to declare a state of emergency throughout Pakistan. The Constituent Assembly as at present constituted has lost the confidence of the people and cannot longer function” (Keith Callard, 1957:141).

Subsequently, a new government was instituted, with Mohammad Ali Bogra as the Prime Minister. Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan, the President of the Constituent Assembly, questioned whether it was under the Governor-General’s authority to disintegrate the Constituent Assembly, thus he submitted a petition to the Sindh Chief Court to issue mandamus and a quo warranto against the members of the cabinet, who could not qualify as ministers under Section 10 of the Government of India Act 1935, as per the fourth amendment of the Government of India Act, 1954. The Court decided in his favor, but on appeal the Federal Court of Pakistan justified the power of the Governor-General to dissolve the Constituent Assembly, and it directed the Governor-General to call for a Second Constituent Assembly that would be elected by the members of the provincial governments. The members thus elected to the Assembly consisted of twelve groups, among which the largest was the Muslim League, however it could not command an absolute majority (Mustafa Chowdhury, 1988:35).

It needs to be mentioned that the members of the Second Constituent Assembly were elites including lawyers, entrepreneurs, landlords, senior ex-officials, and business magnates. Other than them there were also a sizable number of newspaper owners, journalists, and religious leaders (ulama), teachers, and leaders of trade unions, tribal heads and the kings of Princely States. Since the pattern of landownership in West Pakistan was highly concentrated, the landlords were a dominant class of people there. On the other hand, the lawyers were a leading class of people in the East Pakistan. The first session of the Second Constituent Assembly took place in Muree in July 1955. When Ghulam Mohammad fell ill, Iskander Mirza (1899-1969) succeeded him in August 1955. During this time, the different groups of the assembly were seeking alliances. A coalition of the Muslim League and the United Front Party of East Pakistan came forth and Chaudhuri Mohammad Ali became the Prime Minister, in the place of Mohammad Ali Bogra, who was a member of the East Pakistani Muslim League. In this new coalition government, East Pakistan was better represented and therefore it immediately pressed for the framing of a Constitution for Pakistan. The Constituent Assembly adopted a Constitution following which in March 1956 Iskander Mirza was made the first President (Ibid:35-36).

After the Muslim League faced a severe defeat in East Pakistan election in 1954, it diminished in size to that of a minor party in the constituent assembly, and many of its members defected to other parties. In September 1956, Muslim League was totally ousted both from the central and two provincial cabinets. From that time, the Republican Party came to prominence and was left to control the fate of West Pakistan for several years. Through this, it constituted a majority of the central cabinet. For about a year, the Republican Party had to share its power with the Awami League. Eventually there was a split between these two parties due to differences over the one unit issue, which gave way to a short-lived coalition between the Republican Party and the Muslim League, with the lead provided by the latter. When the separate electorate issue came up for discussion, the Republican Party would not agree with the Muslim League, therefore it withdrew its support, leading to the fall of the cabinet. In December 1957, another coalition ensued between the Republican Party, the Awami League and the Krishak Sramik Party (a proletarian party of peasants and laborers). Malik Firoz Khan Noon (1893-1970), the leader of the Republican Party, now became the Prime Minister, while the two other parties chose to remain outside the cabinet and extend their support. Due to transfer of allegiance from one party to another, the central government was moving towards collapse. The situation in the provinces was not encouraging either (G.W.Choudhury, 1963:55-64).

Therefore, between 1947 and the coup in October 1958, the political scene of Pakistan was characterized by severe instability, about which Keith Callard remarked that the political parties in Pakistan never had any resemblance with those in other countries. While politics started at the top level, Pakistan neither had a two-party system, with a struggle focused between two stable factions, nor a multi-party system with a clear difference in the objectives and ideologies of opponents. Pakistan’s political scene was dominated by many leaders who, with their followers, advanced baseless agreements to secure power that they were ultimately incapable to maintain. The result was a situation whereby even those without strong ideologies could obtain prosperity at public expense by the control they exercised over those in the legislature, and by the power of money and influence. No political party felt it was necessary to focus on the welfare of the primary voter and there was no necessity to do son. All this resulted in a situation where the parliamentary government was never chosen by the popular vote (Keith Callard, 1957:67). Talking of the breakage of the party solidarity, both the politicians and the state heads contributed to it. For instance, Ghulam Mohammad dismissed the Nazimuddin cabinet in 1953, though the latter had the confidence of a major segment of the legislature. Similarly, fashion, Iskander Mirza triggered the formation of a dissentient group named the Republican Party from the members of the Muslim League in 1956. The central power also permeated to influence the provincial politics. While the head of the state was given emergency, powers based on national interest, this was wielded to further the material interests of political parties and their denizens. Prime Minister Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy (d.1963) enacted emergency rule in West Pakistan in 1957 simply to prevent the Muslim League forming the provincial government (K.J.Newman, 1959:31).


Since the representative institutions of Pakistan, including the political parties, legislatures and interest groups, did not perform their conventional responsibilities appropriately, they could not adequately control the bureaucracy. Since the political institutions failed to evolve a powerbase and offer a stable kind of political system, the military was forced to intervene in politics in 1958. To some extent, the bureaucracy played an instrumental role in weakening the representative institutions, as evidenced in the dissolution of Nazimuddin’s cabinet by the Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad, and how Iskander Mirza discredited democracy itself by discrediting the parliament and all the politicians. There are also other factors that hindered the growth of representative institutions, namely the impact of colonial trends, the issues of pluralistic society, the influence exerted by the military regime and others. Overall, an overdeveloped bureaucracy is purely accountable for the weakness of the representative institutions in the democracy of developing countries; the weakness of the latter certainly appears to create a vacuum that will soon be occupied by the talented bureaucracy. Therefore, we may state that the years preceding the October Revolution of 1958 were characterized by instability, turbulence and disorder, which paved the way for the proclamation of the Martial Law by President Iskander Mirza on October 7, 1958. President Mirza posted General Mohammad Ayub Khan as the chief administrator of the Martial Law. By this power, Ayub could force Mirza to resign from the President’s office and declare himself the head of the state as well as of the government.


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