Ayub Khan

Pakistan Table of Contents

Although Ayub Khan viewed himself as a reformer, he was predisposed to the benevolent authoritarianism of the Mughal and viceregal traditions. He also relied heavily on the country's civilian bureaucrats, who formed the majority of his advisers and cabinet ministers. Ayub Khan initiated a plan for Basic Democracies, a measure to create a system of local government from the grass roots. The Basic Democracies system consisted of a mulitiered pyramidal hierarchy of interlocking tiers of legislative councils from the village to the provincial level. The lowest but most important tier was composed of union councils, one each for groups of villages having an approximate population of 10,000. The members of these union councils were called Basic Democrats. The union councils were responsible for local government, including agricultural and community development, maintaining law and order through rural police, and trying minor cases in conciliation courts.

In 1960 the Basic Democrats were asked to endorse Ayub Khan's presidency and to give him a mandate to frame a new constitution. Ayub's constitution, promulgated in 1962, ended martial law, established a presidential form of government with a weak legislature (now called the National Assembly) and gave the president augmented executive, legislative, and financial powers. Adult franchise was limited to the election of Basic Democrats, who constituted an electoral college for the president and members of the national and provincial assemblies. This constitution was abrogated in 1969 when Ayub, who by then had lost the people's confidence, resigned, handing over the responsibility for governing to the army commander in chief General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan (see Ayub Khan). Yahya Khan assumed the title of president and also became chief martial law administrator.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress