Athar Osama August 6th, 2007
In the last episode, we looked at the first four years of Ayub Khan Martial Law in Pakistan. This period, as the write up indicated, was marked with tremendous amount of progress, policy activism, and legislation on a number of different fronts. Philip E. Jones, in his doctoral dissertation titled “Pakistan People’s Party: Rise to Power”, notes that Ayub’s martial law regime evolved its policies around three main objectives:
- The first objective of the martial law regime was the expansion and rationalization of national authority whereby an attempt was made to “replace the negativism of self, group, and provincial interest with a positive programme of national development” (p. 27). Ayub and his fellow generals and technocrats believed that “prolonged effectiveness was sufficient to bring legitimacy to the institutions and the programs that he sponsored” (ibid).
- The second objective of the martial law regime focused on rapid economic development. This was achieved through expansion in state’s economic planning capacity and creation of institutions for central planning, policy innovation, and implementation. Ayub relied on experts and specialists—as against the generalist bureaucrats, as has been the case in the past decade—that formed the core of his policy-making apparatus. A number of new state organs were developed, e.g. Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) and Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) to facilitate in this activity.
- The third and final objective of the martial law regime was the stabilization of the political process by “depoliticizing it through institutional innovation”. This was primarily achieved through the creation and implementation of his Basic Democracies Scheme to create a loyal cadre of people willing and able to indirectly participate in the political process and the usage of EBDO regulations to clean the political field of rival politicians. (Jones, 2003, p. 26-8)
General Mohammad Ayub Khan—by now a Self-Appointed Field Marshall—seemed a different kind of Chief Martial Law Administrator than the ones Pakistan has seen since, namely, Generals Yahya, Zia , and Musharraf.
Although much like those that followed him, Ayub also grasped an opportunity to displace the political set-up in a bloodless coup, he has been planning for months—perhaps years—for the day. In fact, by the time Ayub “stumbled upon” the chance to become the country’s president, he was quite well prepared with a number of very forward looking ideas for the development of the country.
Ayub was probably also more popular as a Chief of Army Staff, prior to the coup, than any of those that followed his footsteps and hence much secure in his ability to carry on with his experiment in governance. One possible evidence of this fact is that Ayub Khan, unlike his successors, wasted very little time in appointing a full-time Chief of Staff of the Army in General Mohammad Musa Khan, albeit not before elevating himself to the rank of the Field Marshall and retaining the titles of the Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Pakistan. Army had been Ayub’s true constituency and he made sure that it remained that way.
Brian Cloughley writes the following (ascribed originally to Lt. General Gul Hassan) about Musa: “Musa was a good enough officer. He had never done anything wrong during his career but he had also never done anything out of the ordinary [either. Musa was] selected for dependability rather than merit”. This had, by now, become a regular feature of Pakistani leadership where leaders were chosen for their pliability and loyalty rather than merit. Clearly, the Pakistan Army was no exception to this rule. Musa’s appointment is important in a couple of respects. Firstly, he served from 1958 to 1966 for a period of 8-years primarily because he had the confidence of the President and not because any individual must or should meaningfully serve in that position for that long (Cloughley, 1998, p. 48). Secondly, General Musa presided over the 1965 War with Indian that resulted in a military stalemate that, given Pakistan’s objectives from the war, could easily be construed as a defeat of its geopolitical agenda. It was this war and its unpopular consequences that ultimately led to the undoing of Ayub Khan’s regime. We will address that in the next episode of this series, however, for now we focus our attention on the political order that Ayub attempted to create immediately after coming to power.
Towards Pakistan’s Second Constitution
Having created the Basic Democracies system through an executive order and gotten himself elected by more than 95% of Basic Democrats in a highly dubious referendum, Ayub Khan set upon developing a political system that suited his own control over political power and his task for creating a Constitution that could suit the “genius” of the people of Pakistan.
A Constitution Commission headed by Justice Shahabuddin had been appointed on 17 February 1960 by the Martial Law Regime to advise on “how to secure a democracy adapted to changing circumstances and based upon Islamic principles of justice, equality, and tolerance”. The Constitutional Commission issued a questionnaire comprise forty questions whose 9000 copies (in English) and 19,000 (in Urdu and Bengali) were distributed to suitable organizations and prominent men and women to gauge citizens’ input in the Constitution-making process. In all, 6269 replies were received by the Commission through the course of its work (Feldman, 1967, p. 197).
While the Commission was said to have been an autonomous body that was to execute its task without interruption or interference, the President had made his views of the Commission quite clear. Two months before the appointment of the Commission, Ayub Khan noted that the Commission was “not being appointed to tell us what we should do. We know what we should do. We are clear in our mind that we cannot adopt the Parliamentary System” (Feldman, 1967, p. 196).
The Commission presented its report in May of 1961. The report was put before a five-member Cabinet Committee headed by Mr. Manzur Qadir and whose members included Mohammad Shoaib, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, A. K. Khan, and Mohammad Ibrahim. It was announced that the Constitution would be adopted in 1962 but the report was not made public for the next ten months—thus depriving the citizens of any discussion or debate on the new Constitution. In fact, the Constitutional Commission’s report was not made public until after the Constitution had been adopted in March of 1962.
In many ways, the key ideas of what ultimately became the 1962 Constitution had probably already well-developed in the minds of the President even before he stepped into those shoes. Feldman (1967, p. 194) notes that the 1962 Constitution was the wholly the brain child of General Ayub Khan—and to a lesser extent his trusted lieutenant Manzur Qadir who served as the Foreign Minister in the cabinet—and it is unlikely that anyone of the military of the cabinet participated in its creation.
Two interesting facts about the Basic Democracies scheme are worth noting here. First, is the fact that although Basic Democracies may have been an effective and representative local government system for the country, it also served two important purposes, namely, the elimination of the need for national level political leadership and hence a potentially strong source of opposition to the President, and it provided a means for the President to manipulate the public vote by manipulating the will of the Basic Democrats. It was no secret, and was amply pointed out by many a critic at that time, that it was far easier for the President to manipulate and buy-off the votes of 80,000 people than several million of them. This was especially more true because the Basic Democrats were dependent upon the will and personality of the President for the continuation of their own survival. Although, the President vehemently denied this notion and laughed off the allegation that he was interested in buying the loyalties of 80,000 peoples’ representatives, but the logic and motive was quite clear and strong in support of such an assertion.
The second—and relatively unknown—fact about the Basic Democracies scheme that is worth emphasizing here is the Islamic authority that Ayub Khan claimed for the Basic Democracies Scheme (Feldman, 1967, p.119). While abolishing political parties, he had talked fondly of what he described as the “Islamic method” referring to the advisory council set up by Caliph Umar bin Khattab (RA) in which a number of people of high intellect and moral caliber—free of party affiliations and solely motivated by the welfare of the people— participated in governance. In the “Islamic method of election”, Ayub asserted, independent and free thinking people of high moral and intellectual stature must be elected without a party ticket or loyalty to serve the electorate. (Feldman, 1967, p.111). Ever since, the President’s speeches on the future political order in the country were tempered with references to Islamic values and the need for “reflecting on the spirit of Islam” in the Constitution (ibid.)
These two facts have, since then, become a regular feature of Pakistan’s political landscape during both democratic and dictatorial regimes. Following Ayub’s example, and for a good reason, military dictators in Pakistan have emphasized upon local government instead of provincial and national government. Of course, there is nothing wrong with decentralization of governance within a country—just that the utility of doing so at the expense of a strong and effective government at national and provincial levels is somewhat questionable. In fact, in each of the three instances of Martial Law in Pakistan, one can make a convincing argument that one of key objectives of the local government set up was to undermine the central and provincial governments. Researchers have argued that one of the chief by products of creating these local government set-ups has been the proliferation of perks and patronage in the Pakistani politics (more on this in a later episode).
The second, namely, the resort to Islam to build ones political credentials has also been a fairly consistent theme throughout Pakistan’s 60 year old political history and has been equally common across both democratic and dictatorial regimes. While Zia-ul-Haq really perfected the art, one can find underpinnings of this in Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation”, MMA’s use of “the” book as its election symbol, Nawaz Sharif’s passage of the Shariah Bill, or even Bhutto’s Islamic socialism of the 1970s. Ayub Khan, it seems, was no exception. We will return to these themes in more detail as we discuss each of these eras in due course of time.
Pakistan’s Second Constitution (of 1962) Described
The Constitution of 1962 was announced on March 1, 1962 without allowing the general public or civic organization and political organizations to even review or comment on it. The Constitution thus unveiled was not surprisingly that of Presidential character that fully. It fully operationalized and institutionalized the Ayub Khan’s Basic Democracies system. The Constitution called for the indirect election of the National and Provincial by the 80,000 Basic Democrats already chosen in 1960. These elections were held in April of 1962. Under the new constitution, the President himself did not have to seek fresh election because Article 226 of the Constitution stated that under the terms of the Referendum of 1960, President Ayub Khan automatically stood elected as President under the Constitution of 1962 (Feldman, 1967, p. 199). Subsequently, the Constitution of 1962 became fully effective on 8 June 1962 on which day the Martial Law government was withdrawn (Feldman, 1967, p. 194).
The Constitution of 1962 was quite different from the one suggested by the Constitution Commission itself. Clearly, after the Constitution Commission’s recommendations had been made, Ayub and his cabinet colleagues, most notably Manzur Qadir, had extensively manipulated the recommendations to their liking. The Constitution Commission had made recommendations restricted adult franchise, bicameral legislature, the creation of the office of the Vice President, and procedures to resolving disputes between the President and the Legislature that either did not make their way into the final Constitution or were reversed in it (Khan, 2001, p. 144). Hamid Khan notes the support Ayub received from a number of very prominent political and religious leaders at that time, such as, Zafarullah Khan, Ghulam Ahmed Parvez, and Pir Ali Mohammad Rashdi. The latter went to the extent of suggesting that Pakistan should be a monarchy with Ayub Khan as its first monarch.
The 1962 Constitution contained 250 Articles spread over twelve parts and three schedules. The preamble drew from the Objectives Resolution but the country was named “Republic of Pakistan”. The most interesting provisions of the 1962 Constitution related to the Presidential powers. It vested considerable power in the personality of the President who, in the words of Hamid Khan (2001, p. 147) acted like the “clock tower of Faisalabad, where all bazaars converged”. All legislation passed by the National Assembly required the assent of the President who could give or withhold assent or return the legislation back to the National Assembly. If the difference between the President and the Assembly persisted, the President could put the matter before the electoral college for a “yes” or “no” vote. The National Assembly had no such right.
The President also held absolute power in determining and regulating the government including, but not limited to, regulating and allocating the transaction of the business of central government, establishing divisions of government, foreign affairs and war, and making all important appointments. President could exercise all these powers independent of any checks and balances and/or advice by any other public or government functionary. The Cabinet served at the President’s pleasure.
The President was liable to be impeached by three-fourths majority of the National Assembly for will-full violation of the Constitution or gross misconduct. The reference for impeachment was to be submitted by at least one-third of the members and voted upon no less than 14 and no more than 30 days after submission. If the impeachment vote could not produce more than half of the membership of National Assembly, those bringing the reference against the President ceased to be the members of the Assembly (Khan, 2001, p. 146). Under normal rules of the Constitution, a President could not serve for a continuous period of more than eight years in office. However, a vote by the joint sitting of the National and Provincial Assemblies could allow the President to serve an unlimited number of terms in office.
A complete overview of the 1962 Constitution is beyond the scope of this work, however, suffice it to say here that the 1962 Constitution provided Ayub Khan with absolute control over the affairs of the government and the constitutional cover necessary to legitimize the country’s return to civilian rule.
Pakistani Politics Under Ayub Khan’s “Presidential Democracy”
That Ayub’s ideal of Basic Democracies had hit some snags very early on the process is quite apparent. Immediately after taking control, Ayub, having been a fierce critic of political parties, had outlawed all political parties of the country and had laid the foundations of his Basic Democracies scheme on the notion of individual citizen legislators working for the betterment of their fellow countrymen. The Basic Democrats so elected were under strict restrictions to politically organize into groupings that even closely resembled the political parties. They were also not allowed to voice criticism of the Basic Democracies scheme, the overall political order in the country, as well as the new Constitution being developed and promulgated. However, as soon as the National Assemblies were formed, political parties inevitably returned to the country’s democratic scene.
Despite the ban on political parties, several parties, namely, National Awami Party (NAP), Muslim League, Jamaat-e-Islami, Awami League etc. were already operating with impunity outside the legislature (Khan, 2001, p. 162). In July of 1962, a Bill was introduced to legalize and regulate political parties in Pakistan. On 14th of July a draft bill was put to vote and it passed. On 16th of July, the President signed it into law. Despite some questionable provisions, especially those dealing with the government’s ability to take actions against those deemed to have “engaged in activities considered detrimental to the health and security of the nation”, the law was welcomed by political parties across the spectrum and within days they were active both inside and outside the Legislature.
(Figure: Zaibunnissa Hamidullah was a pioneer amongst women journalists of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. A column writer for English newspapers, including Dawn, Zaibunnissa launched Pakistan’s first woman’s weekly in English, The Mirror. Even though a socialite magazine, it often created ripples by its strong political editorials critical of the policies and actions of the rulers of the day in a language and style that at times earned her the wrath of the wielders of power. The power of her pen rattled Ayub Khan when she lashed out at him for elevating himself to the rank of Field Marshal. The paper was read as much for its social content as for the biting sarcasm and wit that characterized the writings of its editor. The magazine closed down in 1972 after twenty-one years of struggle against authoritarian trends in our politics and bigotry and fanaticism in society. The sting in her writings earned her quite a few enemies, but even her detractors admired her for the courage of conviction and the strength of character she displayed throughout her professional and personal life. Source: Dr. Kazi at Flickr.com)
While Ayub Khan had not minced words in his contempt for organized political parties, he now “acknowledged that he was a prisoner of events and hence was forced to accept the reinstatement of political parties, [although] he was convinced that the country would be better off without them (Khan, 2001, p. 162). On July 20th, he made a fervent plea to the nation for a broad-based nationalist political party which could unify the nation and direct all its energies towards national reconstruction. Following up on his plea, Ayub himself encouraged his colleagues to set up a “King’s Party” that would represent the government in and outside of the legislature.
In the political maneuvering that followed, Muslim League was split into the “Convention League”—those supporting the restoration of the League under the terms proposed by Ayub government—and the “Council League” comprising those opposing it. In Oct 1962, a National Democratic Front (NDF) was formed comprising Council League, Awami League, NAP and other opposition parties seeking the restoration of parliamentary government, adult franchise, and justiciability of fundamental rights. On December 15th, 1962, Convention League requested Ayub Khan to directly assume the Presidency of the party asserting that both Quaid-e-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan had held the Presidency of the party while holding an office of the state (Khan, 2001, p. 163). With some initial hesitation, Ayub Khan joined the Convention League in May of 1963 and assumed its presidency seven months later. The greatest critic of national political parties had reconciled with the inevitability of the same.
On the issue of indirect vs. direct franchise too, Ayub had to appoint a Franchise Commission to deliberate over the matter. The Commission submitted its final report in February of 1963 with two members—including the Chairman himself—dissenting with the majority opinion ruling against the indirect elections and insisting on adult franchise. The Franchise Commission report was yet another major embarrassment for the President. A “Special Committee” was therefore appointed by the Ministry of Law to overrule the report of the Franchise Commission. While accepting the principal of universal adult suffrage as being well-established the Special Committee’s report argued that since every individual was give a vote to elect a Basic Democrat who in turn indirectly elected the Legislature and the President, the requirements of universal suffrage were in fact being fulfilled. The Governor of East Pakistan at that time went as far as stating that under the Constitution of 1962, individuals enjoyed the maximum possible suffrage in Pakistan (Feldman, 1967, p. 115).
Two important amendments were made soon after the enactment of the Constitution. First, the 1962 Constitution had curtailed the powers of the courts to protect the fundamental rights of citizens—thus causing considerable controversy among the public. A Bill was introduced in March 1963 to make fundamental rights justciable under the Constitution. The first amendment made it illegal for the legislature to make any laws that were against the fundamental rights of the citizens. It thus made the courts, rather than the legislature, the custodian of fundamental rights of the citizens. Another change made through the amendment was to once again rename the “Republic of Pakistan” as “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” – a demand primarily made by many Islamic parties but also endorsed by mainstream political opposition of the country. The second amendment passed in 1964 also made considerable changes in the Constitution in an attempt to smoothen the lacunas discovered within the first two years of its enforcement. In all, this amendment changed ten articles of the Constitution with the most important being the curtailment of President’s discretionary powers to dissolve the National Assembly. Under the amended Constitution, if the President dissolved the National Assembly before the expiration of its term, he himself stood to lose his office within 120 days of the passage of that order.
Despite restoration of the Constitution, though, restrictions on assembly and political activities continued to remain in effect. Several leading opposition politicians were arrested on charges of sedition during 1963-64. Jama’at-e-Islami was accused of creating a “sense of frustration and despondency by unwarranted criticism of the government policies” (Khan, 2001, p. 166) and leader Maulana Maududi was alleged to have been a foreign spy. Despite these difficulties, the opposition movement continued to remain strong. In a historic Supreme Court Judgment in Maududi Case, the Court upheld the citizen’s fundamental right of association against unlawful and unwarranted government restrictions.
Clearly, Ayub Khan’s Martial Law Revolution had run into considerable difficulties with its first half-decade of operation. The President—while still at the helm—was ruling with a considerably weakened support-base and had conceded considerable ground to the opposition on major matters of policy that he had held sacred and unquestionable in the Martial Law years.
Elections 1965: Ayub Khan vs. Ms. Fatima Jinnah
Under the Constitution of 1962, the Presidential Elections were to be held at the culmination of a five-year term of office. Having elected President through a referendum on February 14, 1960, Ayub’s term was to expire in February 1965 and consequently presidential elections were announced for January 2nd 1965. The Opposition parties had formed a Combined Opposition Parties (COP) comprising Council Muslim League (led by Khawaja Naziumuddin), Awami League (led by Mujibur Rahman), NAP (led by Maulana Bhashani), NAP(Frontier) led by Wali Khan, Nizam-e-Islam (led by Chaudhary Mohammad Ali), and Jama’at-e-Islami (led by Maulana Maududi). Also among the ranks of COP was Lt. Gen. Retd. Azam Khan who—once a major proponent of Martial Law and Ayub—had now turned his back onto his ex-Commander and was determined to oust him.
Determined to oust Ayub Khan, the COP invited Ms. Fatima Jinnah, the sister of Quaid-e-Azam to be their joint candidate to oppose Ayub Khan’s presidential bid. While leading a retired and secluded life since Jinnah death, Fatima Jinnah had been a fierce critic of Ayub’s policies. Ms. Jinnah’s nomination, however, may not have been equally acceptable to all political parties. Hamid Khan (2001, p. 169), for example, identifies three different issues that may have caused some reservations among various COP members. First, Ms. Jinnah was known for her strong convictions on most matters of governance and has known to have developed quite a temper towards her later years. Second, some parties, particularly East Pakistani parties, were not very fond of Ms. Jinnah as they resented the treatment she had meted out to Huseyn Shaheed Suhrwardy. Third, Islamic parties may not have been comfortable with her being a woman—a first woman president, if elected. Despite these qualms, however, the COP managed to look beyond these seemingly difficult issues and rallied behind Ms. Jinnah in attempt to dislodge the President. Hamid Khan, in Political and Constitutional History of Pakistan, describes Ms. Jinnah’s popularity and the desperation of the Ayub regime in the following words:
“The two provincial Governors, who had maintained law and order with an iron hand and snuffed out all dissent, were bewildered by the ecstatic manner in which the people celebrated Ms. Jinnah’s decision to fight their hero—the soldier statesmen Ayub. She had no experience of government, no knowledge of administration, and no contact with world leaders. Nevertheless, she was the idol of the people and thousands of people would gather only to catch a glimpse of her. She could hardly speak any of the national languages but her charisma was irresistible. She was seen by the crowds as the only person who could bring down Ayub’s authoritarian rule and restore the democratic rights of the people.” (Khan, 2001, p. 170)
Amidst widespread concerns for and protest against pre-election rigging including, but not limited to, rigging of elections of Basic Demcrats during which as many as 8,500 of the 80,000 BDs were elected unopposed, gerrymandering of constituencies, faulty voters lists, unfair rules, and misuse of official machinery and public money, the election campaign carried with greater intensity and vigor. Both Ms. Jinnah and Ayub Khan addressed large public rallies in a large peaceful campaign. Issues were debated and candidates positions clearly stated before the electorate.
However, notes Hamid Khan (2001, p. 173) that, “it became more and more evident that the dominating issue was Ayub Khan’s own personality and conduct”. While Ayub defended his record both on domestic and foreign policy fronts, the opposition decried his personalization of power and the imposition of an authoritarian rule. Another issue that occupied central position was the considerable fortune acquired by Ayub’s son, Captain Gohar Ayub Khan, who had recently retired from the Army to go into business for himself (as owner of General Motors Corporation’s assembly plant in Karachi). Gohar Ayub Khan was accused to using his father’s position and influence to have enriched himself overnight. Once again, despite Ayub’s defense the issue continued to linger in the minds of the electorate.
The elections were held on January 2, 1965 and results were announced the next day. Ayub Khan received 49,951 electoral votes against Ms. Jinnah’s 28,691. While Ayub commanded considerable lead, this was a far cry from his 95%+ showing 3 years earlier. Ms. Jinnah dominated Ayub in Dhaka, Chittagong, and Karachi divisions. Despite the heaviest of odds and the entire state machinery working against her candidacy this was a remarkable showing of strength by Mr. Fatima Jinnah. COP refused to accept the election results and Ms. Jinnah charged that “the[se] elections have been rigged. I am sure that the so-called victory of Mr. Ayub is his greatest defeat”. (Khan, 2001, p. 175). The results of 1965 elections remained disputed ever since thus further undermining the legitimacy of Ayub’s Government.
On January 4, 1965, Gohar Ayub Khan, largely in a show of defiance and revenge, led a victory procession through Karachi firing in the air and, in districts that were solidly against Ayub Khan, on people and burning dwellings. A night-long battle between pro- (mainly Pathan) and anti-Ayub (mainly Mohajir) forces ensued that killed between 6 and 20 people. As a result Karachi became staunchly anti-Ayub and a seed of ethnic discord was sown between Pathan and Mohajir communities of Karachi.
While Ayub had shown some ability and tenacity to cling to power, his political star had already entered the troubling part of its journey…