Lord Louis Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of India (Feb – Aug 1947). After the passage of the Indian independence act in July 1947 the post of Viceroy ceased to exist after the partition on August 14, 1947. Mountbatten then became Governor General for India while Muhammad Ali Jinnah assumed this mantle in Pakistan. Till 1858 Governors General were appointed by the board of East India Company, it was called Company Raj. It was then converted to British Raj when the Monarch took control of India. The post was then named Viceroy and Governor General. Viceroy was classified as a ruler exercising authority on behalf of a sovereign, while Governor General was considered a representative of British Monarch.

Prime Minister (PM) Clement Attlee appointed Lord Mountbatten as the fourth Viceroy of India. In this capacity he reported to the elected parliament and received policy directions from the public representatives of the United Kingdom. After partition on August 14, 1947 when Jinnah took oath as Governor General he appointed Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan as the first elected PM of the new land who then appointed a six member cabinet to run the country. Jinnah was consumed by the freedom struggle, he perished a year later to be succeeded by another political stalwart from the Eastern Wing Khawaja Nazimuddin. In 1950 India became a republic and the post of Governor General was replaced with an elected President. Pakistan was not that lucky. Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated in 1951, Baboo Ghulam Muhammad (Gamma) managed to become the Governor General while Khawaja sahib replaced the PM. Under Gamma Pakistan started to move in the wrong direction. Constitution making became an uphill task. Gamma started to act as Rustam-e-Pakistan. He assumed the mantle of the first Viceroy of Pakistan who was accountable no one. even when he was incapacitated with a stroke he refused to step down. Finally another honorary Major General Iskander Mirza appeared on the scene as the second Viceroy to replace Gamma in 1955. In 1956 when the first constitution was passed he was elected as the first President.

When the country was gearing up for elections in 1958, Viceroy-II dismissed his own party government and imposed martial law on October 08, 1958. Then came Viceroy-III who as Commander-in-Chief dismissed Viceroy-II and clamped another martial law on October 27, 1958. Viceroys’ of Pakistan were omnipotent monarchs accountable to no one unlike the Viceroys’ of India who reported to an elected parliament. Ayub Khan as Viceroy then decided to send home all the founding fathers of Pakistan through an ordinance (Elected Bodies Disqualification Ordinance). Viceroy-III ruled over the land of the pure for ten years and five months (Octo 1958 – Mar 1969). When he tried to push his heir apparent Captain (Retd) Gohar Ayub Khan cracks started to appear in his dynasty. Earlier Ayub Khan had abrogated the unanimously approved constitution of 1956 to be replaced by his own centered Presidential version in 1962.

When the movement against him gained steam he was replaced by Viceroy-IV who again abrogated the constitution and decided to hold free and fair elections in 1970. The people of both Wings ( East and West ) overwhelmingly voted against the rule of the Viceroys. When power was not transferred to the elected representatives civil war broke out in the Eastern Wing and Quaid’s’ Pakistan was dismembered.

As an elected PM, Bhutto promulgated the 1973 constitution which till today stands out as beacon of hope and democracy. Whenever he tried to tread the path of the earlier Viceroys he was checkmated by the parliament whose leader of the opposition was Abdul Wali Khan, a smart political mind. The ‘Vicegerent Alliance’ was unhappy with the democratic gains of the seventies. Bhutto was replaced by Viceroy-V who then started to rule over us. Perhaps he was the most obnoxious of them all who had the audacity to say that he could trash the constitution and throw it as waste paper. He left behind another Viceroy-VI Baboo Ishaq Khan and another in waiting Nawaz Sharif.

Viceroy-VI dismissed two elected governments using Viceroy-V ‘s 8th amendment. Second time he got into trouble as Viceroy (In waiting), got him. After removing Viceroy-VI, Nawaz started working on his dream of becoming Ameer-ul-Momineen or Khalifa of the Islamic state. When the senate thwarted his ambition he tried to settle on become Viceroy (In waiting). He tried it three times but so far has remained unsuccessful.

Then Viceroy (In waiting) was pushed out by Viceroy-VII. Pervez Musharraf who wanted to create a modern and progressive state. He termed it enlightened moderation. Only he understood this term. One telephone call from Washington brought him to his knees. Then after his ouster Viceroy (In waiting) struck him with Article-6 of the constitution. He ran away never to return. But once again it was selective pursuit, only the President was accused while his PM and law Minister were spared. Now the Viceroy ( In waiting ) has also left in an Air Ambulance or the Royal Qatar Aeroplane no one knows.

With seven vagabond Viceroys and one in waiting, democracy and freedom remains a pipe dream.

Bhutto’s 1973 constitution has survived despite being disfigured several times. Future salvation lies in adhering to this consensual document in letter and spirit. All political forces must sit together to agree on electoral reforms for a free and fair non-controversial electoral exercise to put an end to the rule of the ‘Vicegerent Alliance’ that has denied the republic of its democratic rights. No more, Viceroys only genuine ‘Khadims’ who don’t have to be ‘Aala’ as claimed.