I was flying today from Islamabad to London when a Pakistani-British young man, after a very polite greeting to me, sat beside me on a vacant seat and directly asked me as to why there is such a mess in Pakistan and why we are a direction-less nation? He expressed his grave concern about the on going political and economic situation in the country stating “We ‘overseas’ Pakistani are very worried about our home land”. I tried to explain but he was not satisfied with the on going situation.
He left but his discussion and concerns about the situation in Pakistan shook me up. He made me seriously ponder the question that are we as a nation really direction-less and why? In order to answer this question one needs to look back at the political history of the country since its independence The answer lies in the objective analysis of the power struggle between political and non-political forces. This power struggle landed the country not only into political polarisation but also into economic/financial dependence on the international financial institutions, which are mainly controlled by USA and Europe.
A cursory glance of the political/democratic history of the country would explain as to how Pakistan plunged into political polarisation. This polarisation ultimately weakened the successive civilian governments and the institutions to the extent that those governments were more concerned about their survival rather than pointing the country into any direction, which could lead to the prosperity.
Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan took his office as the first Prime Minister on 14 August 1947 but was publically assassinated on 16 October 1951, being in office only for4 Years, 2 months & 2 days. Subsequently, Sir Khawaja Nazimuddin was elected as the Prime Minister on 17 October 1951 but his government was dismissed by the then Governor General Ghulam Muhammad on 17 April 1953 lasting his office for only 1 Year, 6 months. Mr. Muhammad Ali Bogra replaced him on 17 April 1953 but again the Governor General dismissed his government on 12 August 1955 and he remained in office for only 2 Years, 3 months & 26 days. Then Mr. Muhammad Ali was elected as Prime Minister on 12 August 1955 but he fell victim of a No Confidence vote by his own political party on 12 September 1956, being in office for only 1 Year 1 month. Mr. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy took the office of Prime Minister on 12 September 1956 but resigned on 17 October 1957, after having lost his control over his own party and the coalition party in the parliament. He remained in the office for only 1 Year, 1 Months & 5 days. Then Mr. Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar became the Prime Minister on 17 October 1957 but he lost the confidence of the House on 16 December 1957 after 1 Month, 29 days being in the office. Sir Feroz Khan Noon then became the Prime Minister on 16 December 1957 but after just 9 months and 21 days in the office, his own party’s President declared martial law on 7 October 1958.
After a gap of around 13 years, Mr. Nurul Amin took the office of Vice President under Yahya Khan on 7 December 1971 till 20 December 1971, for about 13 days, when ware broke out between Pakistan and India leading to the creation of Bangladesh. On 20 December 1971, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto first took over the office of the President, as there was no constitution as well as the parliamentary form of government, till 14 August 1973 when he, after promulgation of Constitution of 1973, he resigned and took the office of the Prime Minister – first directly democratically elected Prime Minister. He was in office for 3 years, 10 months and 21 days when on 5 July 1977 his government was toppled by the then Army Chief. The country remained under martial law and under the reign of Gen. Ziaul Haq till 24 March 1985, when Mr. Muhammad Khan Junejo was elected as Prime Minister. He remained in office for 3 years, 2 months and 5 days when the President dismissed his government by exercising his powers under 18th Amendment in the Constitution.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was the first Muslim lady elected as Prime Minister on 2 December 1988 but the then President by invoking his powers under Article 58(2)(b) of the Constitution, dismissed his government on 6 August 1990, just after 1 Year, 8 Months and 4 days being in office, on the allegations of corruption, which were never proved. Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi was then installed as caretaker Prime Minister on 6 August 1990 till 6 November 1990 when new Prime Minister was elected.
Mr. Nawaz Sharif was elected as Prime Minister for the first time on 6 November 1990 but on 18 April 1993, the then President of Pakistan dismissed his government after being in office for only 2 Years, 5 Months, 12 Days. His government was, however, reinstated by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. In the meantime, Mr. Balakh
Sher Baz Mazari acted as caretaker Prime Minister from 18 April 1993 to 26 May 1993, for only 1 Month and 8 Days. After reinstatement, Mr. Nawaz Sharif remained Prime Minister from 26 May 1993 to 18 July 1993 for 1 Month and 22 Days, and resigned as a settlement to oust the President as well.
An unknown Pakistan-origin US national Mr. Moeen Ahmed Qureshi was imported from USA to install as caretaker Prime Minister on 18 July 1993 till 19 October 1993. For 3 Months and 1 Day. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto again won majority seats in the National Assembly and was elected as Prime Minister on 19 October 1993 when once again the then President of Pakistan dismissed her government on 5 November 1996, just after 3 Years and 17 Days – once against frivolous allegations of corruption, which were yet never been proved.
After the dismissal of the government of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Malik Meraj Khalid was appointed as caretaker Prime Minister on 5 November 1996 till 17 February 1997 who remained in the office for 3 Months and 12 Days. The elections once again saw Mr. Nawaz Sharif to be elected as the Prime Minister on 17 February 1997 till 12 October 1999, when Gen. Pervez Musharraf toppled his government just after 2 Years, 7 Months and 25 Days.
Mr. Zafarullah Khan Jamali took oath of the office of Prime Minister on 23 November 2002 when he resigned on 26 June 2004 just after 1 Year, 7 Months and 3 Days. Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain was, consequently, elected as Prime Minister on 30 June 2004, for only 1 month & 27 days when he resigned on 26 August 2004 to vacate the office for Mr. Shaukat Aziz. He was elected as Prime Minister on 28 August 2004 and he resigned on 15 November 2007 after 3 Years, 2 Months and 18 Days, after completing his parliamentary tenure. Then Mr. Muhammad Mian Soomro took over the office of caretaker Prime Minister on 16 November 2007 till 24 March 2008.
When the PPP won the elections, Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani was elected as Prime Minister on 25 March 2008, who remained in the office till 19 June 2012 for 4 Years,
2 Months and 25 Days when the Supreme Court disqualified him and he resigned. Consequently, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf took the office of the Prime Minister on 22 June 2012 for 9 months and 2 days when he resigned on 24 March 2013, consequent to completion of parliamentary tenure. Mir Hazar Khan Khoso then took office of caretaker Prime Minister on 25 March 2013 till 5 June 2013. Consequent to the victory in the general elections, Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took the office of the Prime Minister for the third time on 5 June 2013 but the Supreme Court disqualified him on 28 July 2017, after 4 Years, 1 Month and 23 days. Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is currently Prime Minister since 1 August 2017, in place of Mr. Nawaz Sharif.
We as Nation have to revisit our failures and success and should sort out the grey areas and the reasons for having come to this situation. Let us overview the timeline of the evolution of the democratic institution such as the office of the heads of the governments throughout the life of the country. Right since the day of our first Prime Minister to the last one, we are led to believe that the office has been victim to non-democratic forces. The heads of the governments were either shown the doors through dismissal of their governments or through forced resignations.
The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Body on Interior and Narcotics.