Pakistan Table of Contents

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

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

By 1958 Ayub Khan and his fellow officers decided to turn out the "inefficient and rascally" politicians--a task easily accomplished without bloodshed. Ayub Khan's philosophy was indebted to the Mughal and viceregal traditions; his rule was similarly highly personalized. Ayub Khan justified his assumption of power by citing the nation's need for stability and the necessity for the army to play a central role. When internal stability broke down in the 1960s, he remained contemptuous of lawyer-politicians and handed over power to his fellow army officers.

Ayub Khan used two main approaches to governing in his first few years. He concentrated on consolidating power and intimidating the opposition. He also aimed to establish the groundwork for future stability through altering the economic, legal, and constitutional institutions.

The imposition of martial law in 1958 targeted "antisocial" practices such as abducting women and children, black marketeering, smuggling, and hoarding. Many in the Civil Service of Pakistan and Police Service of Pakistan were investigated and punished for corruption, misconduct, inefficiency, or subversive activities. Ayub Khan's message was clear: he, not the civil servants, was in control.

Sterner measures were used against the politicians. The PRODA prescribed fifteen years' exclusion from public office for those found guilty of corruption. The Elective Bodies Disqualification Order (EBDO) authorized special tribunals to try former politicians for "misconduct," an infraction not clearly defined. Prosecution could be avoided if the accused agreed not to be a candidate for any elective body for a period of seven years. About 7,000 individuals were "EBDOed." Some people, including Suhrawardy, who was arrested, fought prosecution.

The Press and Publications Ordinance was amended in 1960 to specify broad conditions under which newspapers and other publications could be commandeered or closed down. Trade organizations, unions, and student groups were closely monitored and cautioned to avoid political activity, and imams at mosques were warned against including political matters in sermons.

On the whole, however, the martial law years were not severe. The army maintained low visibility and was content to uphold the traditional social order. By early 1959, most army units had resumed their regular duties. Ayub Khan generally left administration in the hands of the civil bureaucracy, with some exceptions.

Efforts were made to popularize the regime while the opposition was muzzled. Ayub Khan maintained a high public profile, often taking trips expressly to "meet the people." He was also aware of the need to address some of the acute grievances of East Pakistan. To the extent possible, only Bengali members of the civil service were posted in the East Wing; previously, many of the officers had been from the West Wing and knew neither the region nor the language. Dhaka was designated the legislative capital of Pakistan, while the newly created Islamabad became the administrative capital. Central government bodies, such as the Planning Commission, were now instructed to hold regular sessions in Dhaka. Public investment in East Pakistan increased, although private investment remained heavily skewed in favor of West Pakistan. The Ayub Khan regime was so highly centralized, however, that, in the absence of democratic institutions, densely populated and politicized Bengal continued to feel it was being slighted.

Between 1958 and 1962, Ayub Khan used martial law to initiate a number of reforms that reduced the power of groups opposing him. One such group was the landed aristocracy. The Land Reform Commission was set up in 1958, and in 1959 the government imposed a ceiling of 200 hectares of irrigated land and 400 hectares of unirrigated land in the West Wing for a single holding. In the East Wing, the landholding ceiling was raised from thirty-three hectares to forty-eight hectares. Landholders retained their dominant positions in the social hierarchy and their political influence but heeded Ayub Khan's warnings against political assertiveness. Moreover, some 4 million hectares of land in West Pakistan, much of it in Sindh, was released for public acquisition between 1959 and 1969 and sold mainly to civil and military officers, thus creating a new class of farmers having medium-sized holdings. These farms became immensely important for future agricultural development, but the peasants benefited scarcely at all.

In 1955 a legal commission was set up to suggest reforms of the family and marriage laws. Ayub Khan examined its report and in 1961 issued the Family Laws Ordinance. Among other things, it restricted polygyny and "regulated" marriage and divorce, giving women more equal treatment under the law than they had had before. It was a humane measure supported by women's organizations in Pakistan, but the ordinance could not have been promulgated if the vehement opposition to it from the ulama and the fundamentalist Muslim groups had been allowed free expression. However, this law which was similar to the one passed on family planning, was relatively mild and did not seriously transform the patriarchal pattern of society.

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

The Export Bonus Vouchers Scheme (1959) and tax incentives stimulated new industrial entrepreneurs and exporters. Bonus vouchers facilitated access to foreign exchange for imports of industrial machinery and raw materials. Tax concessions were offered for investment in less-developed areas. These measures had important consequences in bringing industry to Punjab and gave rise to a new class of small industrialists.

Basic Democracies

Ayub Khan's martial law regime, critics observed, was a form of "representational dictatorship," but the new political system, introduced in 1959 as "Basic Democracy," was an apt expression of what Ayub Khan called the particular "genius" of Pakistan. In 1962 a new constitution was promulgated as a product of that indirect elective system. Ayub Khan did not believe that a sophisticated parliamentary democracy was suitable for Pakistan. Instead, the Basic Democracies, as the individual administrative units were called, were intended to initiate and educate a largely illiterate population in the working of government by giving them limited representation and associating them with decision making at a "level commensurate with their ability." Basic Democracies were concerned with no more than local government and rural development. They were meant to provide a two-way channel of communication between the Ayub Khan regime and the common people and allow social change to move slowly.

The Basic Democracies system set up five tiers of institutions. The lowest but most important tier was composed of union councils, one each for groups of villages having an approximate total population of 10,000. Each union council comprised ten directly elected members and five appointed members, all called Basic Democrats. Union councils were responsible for local agricultural and community development and for rural law and order maintenance; they were empowered to impose local taxes for local projects. These powers, however, were more than balanced at the local level by the fact that the controlling authority for the union councils was the deputy commissioner, whose high status and traditionally paternalistic attitudes often elicited obedient cooperation rather than demands.

The next tier consisted of the tehsil (subdistrict) councils, which performed coordination functions. Above them, the district (zilla) councils, chaired by the deputy commissioners, were composed of nominated official and nonofficial members, including the chairmen of union councils. The district councils were assigned both compulsory and optional functions pertaining to education, sanitation, local culture, and social welfare. Above them, the divisional advisory councils coordinated the activities with representatives of government departments. The highest tier consisted of one development advisory council for each province, chaired by the governor and appointed by the president. The urban areas had a similar arrangement, under which the smaller union councils were grouped together into municipal committees to perform similar duties. In 1960 the elected members of the union councils voted to confirm Ayub Khan's presidency, and under the 1962 constitution they formed an electoral college to elect the president, the National Assembly, and the provincial assemblies.

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

The 1962 Constitution

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

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

Ayub Khan sought to retain certain aspects of his dominant authority in the 1962 constitution, which ended the period of martial law. The document created a presidential system in which the traditional powers of the chief executive were augmented by control of the legislature, the power to issue ordinances, the right of appeal to referendum, protection from impeachment, control over the budget, and special emergency powers, which included the power to suspend civil rights. As the 1965 elections showed, the presidential system of government was opposed by those who equated constitutional government with parliamentary democracy. The 1962 constitution relaxed martial law limitations on personal freedom and made fundamental rights justiciable. The courts continued their traditional function of protecting the rights of individual citizens against encroachment by the government, but the government made it clear that the exercise of claims based on fundamental rights would not be permitted to nullify its previous progressive legislation on land reforms and family laws.

The National Assembly, consisting of 156 members (including six women) and elected by an electoral college of 80,000 Basic Democrats, was established as the federal legislature. Legislative powers were divided between the National Assembly and provincial legislative assemblies. The National Assembly was to hold sessions alternatively in Islamabad and Dhaka; the Supreme Court would also hold sessions in Dhaka. The ban on political parties was operational at the time of the first elections to the National Assembly and provincial legislative assemblies in January 1960, as was the prohibition on "EBDOed" politicians. Many of those elected were new and merged into factions formed on the basis of personal or provincial loyalties. Despite the ban, political parties functioned outside the legislative bodies as vehicles of criticism and formers of opinion. In late 1962, political parties were again legalized and factions crystallized into government and opposition groups. Ayub Khan combined fragments of the old Muslim League and created the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) as the official government party.

The presidential election of January 1965 resulted in a victory for Ayub Khan but also demonstrated the appeal of the opposition. Four political parties joined to form the Combined Opposition Parties (COP). These parties were the Council Muslim League, strongest in Punjab and Karachi; the Awami League, strongest in East Pakistan; the National Awami Party, strongest in the North-West Frontier Province, where it stood for dissolving the One Unit Plan; and the Jamaat-i-Islami, surprisingly supporting the candidacy of a woman. The COP nominated Fatima Jinnah (sister of the Quaid-i-Azam and known as Madar-i-Millet, the Mother of the Nation) their presidential candidate. The nine-point program put forward by the COP emphasized the restoration of parliamentary democracy. Ayub Khan won 63.3 percent of the electoral college vote. His majority was larger in West Pakistan (73.6 percent) than in East Pakistan (53.1 percent).

Ayub Khan's Foreign Policy and the 1965 War with India

Ayub Khan articulated his foreign policy on several occasions, particularly in his autobiography, Friends not Masters. His objectives were the security and development of Pakistan and the preservation of its ideology as he saw it. Toward these ends, he sought to improve, or normalize, relations with Pakistan's immediate and looming neighbors--India, China, and the Soviet Union. While retaining and renewing the alliance with the United States, Ayub Khan emphasized his preference for friendship, not subordination, and bargained hard for higher returns to Pakistan.

Other than ideology and Kashmir, the main source of friction between Pakistan and India was the distribution of the waters of the Indus River system. As the upper riparian power, India controlled the headworks of the prepartition irrigation canals. After independence India had, in addition, constructed several multipurpose projects on the eastern tributaries of the Indus. Pakistan feared that India might repeat a 1948 incident that curtailed the water supply as a means of coercion. A compromise that appeared to meet the needs of both countries was reached during the 1950s; it was not until 1960 that a solution finally found favor with Ayub Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 was backed by the World Bank and the United States. Broadly speaking, the agreement allocated use of the three western Indus rivers (the Indus itself and its tributaries, the Jhelum and the Chenab) to Pakistan, and the three eastern Indus tributaries (the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej) to India. The basis of the plan was that irrigation canals in Pakistan that had been supplied by the eastern rivers would begin to draw water from the western Indus rivers through a system of barrages and link canals. The agreement also detailed transitional arrangements, new irrigation and hydroelectric power works, and the waterlogging and salinity problems in Pakistan's Punjab. The Indus Basin Development Fund was established and financed by the World Bank, the major contributors to the Aid-to-Pakistan Consortium, and India.

Pakistan's tentative approaches to China intensified in 1959 when China's occupation of Tibet and the flight of the Dalai Lama to India ended five years of Chinese-Indian friendship. An entente between Pakistan and China evolved in inverse ratio to Sino-Indian hostility, which climaxed in a border war in 1962. This informal alliance became a keystone of Pakistan's foreign policy and grew to include a border agreement in March 1963, highway construction connecting the two countries at the Karakoram Pass, agreements on trade, and Chinese economic assistance and grants of military equipment, which was later thought to have included exchanges in nuclear technology. China's diplomatic support and transfer of military equipment was important to Pakistan during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War over Kashmir. China's new diplomatic influence in the UN was also exerted on Pakistan's behalf after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Ayub Khan's foreign minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, is often credited for this China policy, which gave Pakistan new flexibility in its international relationships. The entente deepened during the Zia regime (1977-88).

The Soviet Union strongly disapproved of Pakistan's alliance with the United States, but Moscow was interested in keeping doors open to both Pakistan and India. Ayub Khan was able to secure Soviet neutrality during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War.

Ayub Khan was the architect of Pakistan's policy of close alignment with the United States, and his first major foreign policy act was to sign bilateral economic and military agreements with the United States in 1959. Nevertheless, Ayub Khan expected more from these agreements than the United States was willing to offer and thus remained critical of the role the United States played in South Asia. He was vehemently opposed to simultaneous United States support, direct or indirect, for India's military, especially when this assistance was augmented in the wake of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Ayub Khan maintained, as did many Pakistanis, that in return for the use of Pakistani military facilities, the United States owed Pakistan security allegiance in all cases, not merely in response to communist aggression. Especially troublesome to Pakistan was United States neutrality during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. The United States stance at this time was a contributing factor to Pakistan's closing of United States communications and intelligence facilities near Peshawar. Pakistan did not extend the ten-year agreement signed in 1959.

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

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

In February 1966, a national conference was held in Lahore, where all the opposition parties convened to discuss their differences and their common interests. The central issue discussed was the Tashkent Declaration, which most of the assembled politicians characterized as Ayub Khan's unnecessary capitulation to India. More significant, perhaps, was the noticeable underrepresentation of politicians from the East Wing. About 700 persons attended the conference, but only twenty-one were from the East Wing. They were led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (known as Mujib) of the Awami League, who presented his controversial six-point political and economic program for East Pakistani provincial autonomy. The six points consisted of the following demands that the government be federal and parliamentary in nature, its members elected by universal adult suffrage with legislative representation on the basis of distribution of population; that the federal government have principal responsibility for foreign affairs and defense only; that each wing have its own currency and separate fiscal accounts; that taxation occur at the provincial level, with a federal government funded by constitutionally guaranteed grants; that each federal unit control its own earnings of foreign exchange; and that each unit raise its own militia or paramilitary forces.

Ayub Khan's also lost the services of Minister of Foreign Affairs Bhutto, who resigned became a vocal opposition leader, and founded the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). By 1968 it was obvious that except for the military and the civil service, Ayub Khan had lost most of his support. Ayub Khan's illness in February 1968 and the alleged corruption of members of his family further weakened his position. In West Pakistan, Bhutto's PPP called for a "revolution"; in the east, the Awami League's six points became the rallying cry of the opposition.

In October 1968, the government sponsored a celebration called the Decade of Development. Instead of reminding people of the achievements of the Ayub Khan regime, the festivities highlighted the frustrations of the urban poor afflicted by inflation and the costs of the 1965 war. For the masses, Ayub Khan had become the symbol of inequality. Bhutto capitalized on this and challenged Ayub Khan at the ballot box. In East Pakistan, dissatisfaction with the system went deeper than opposition to Ayub Khan. In January 1969, several opposition parties formed the Democratic Action Committee with the declared aim of restoring democracy through a mass movement.

Ayub Khan reacted by alternating conciliation and repression. Disorder spread. The army moved into Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Dhaka, and Khulna to restore order. In rural areas of East Pakistan, a curfew was ineffective; local officials sensed government control ebbing and began retreating from the incipient peasant revolt. In February Ayub Khan released political prisoners, invited the Democratic Action Committee and others to meet him in Rawalpindi, promised a new constitution, and said he would not stand for reelection in 1970. Still in poor health and lacking the confidence of his generals, Ayub Khan sought a political settlement as violence continued.

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

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress