ISKANDER MIRZA

ISKANDER MIRZA (1955-58).INDO-PAK HISTORY CSS/PMS

Major General Iskander Mirza was one of the 5 members selected for Ghulam Muhammad’s cabinet who was not a member of the Assembly. From May 1954 he was the Governor General of East Pakistan. When Ghulam Muhammad had to retire due to ill health, Iskander Mirza was made acting Governor General. He decided that what Pakistan needed was a leader capable of taking decisive action. As a politician with a military background having served in the British army, Mirza was not afraid to take it. He dismissed Muhammad Ali Bogra as Prime Minister and made him the ambassador to the USA again. He appointed the Finance Minister, Chaudhri Muhammad Ali, as Prime Minister and pressed him hard to have a constitution drawn up quickly.(https://eastwestknowledge.com/governor-general-ghulam-muhammad/)

1956-CONSTITUTION.

On 29 February 1956 Pakistan’s first Constitution was adopted by the Second Constituent Assembly.It was formally enforced on 23 March.The Constitution was a compromise between the wishes of the two most important parties,the Muslim League and the United Front, and neither was completely satisfied.However,the United Front dropped its objectives to equal seats in the Assembly and no longer demanded full provincial autonomy. In return Bengali was accepted as an official languages.The Constitution declared that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was to be governed as shown in the below fig.

The constitution was to last only two years before President Mirza ( the office of Governor General was replaced with that of President in the Constitution) declared martial law and scrapped the new constitution.

RIGHTS GUARANTEED BY THE 1956 CONSTITUTION.

  • Free Speech and Assembly.
  • Right to vote.
  • Right to form Political Parties.
  • Right to criticise.
  • Freedom from unlawful arrest.
  • Freedom of Religion.
  • Equality as a citizen.
  • Freedom of Culture.
  • Right to Security.
  • Right to Marry.
  • Right to education.
  • Right to own Education.
  • Right to choose trade or profession.
  • Right to practice that profession.

THE “ONE UNIT” POLICY.

In November 1954,Bogra had proposed that the four provinces and 10 princely states within Pakistan should be joined together to form West Pakistan.On 5 October 1955 Mirza passed an order unifying all of West Pakistan in what became known as the “One Unit Scheme”.

  • Administration of a single province was more efficient and cost-effective.
  • A single province would bring an end to the differences,prejudices, and rivalries that existed between provinces.
  • Two single provinces,East and West,would make it easier to establish a constitution.

REACTION ON ONE UNIT POLICY.

Not everyone,however,welcomed one Unit or the way in which it was achieved.Opponents were upset at the loss of provincial identities.Leading provincial politicians and political parties feared a loss of power.Even many of those who supported one Unit in principle,turned against it when the government failed to keep all its promises to provincial leaders.The critics claimed that the government had failed to deliver better administration and protection of Sindhi Language.People of East Pakistan saw the One Unit Policy of West Pakistan as a device to curtail their majority in the National Assembly.Although East Pakistan had more people,the two provinces of Pakistan were to be given an equal number of seats.The scheme was highly unpopular in East Pakistan and also was opposed in the individual provinces of West Pakistan.Such was the opposition that president Mirza had to dismiss the Chief Minister of Sindh and dissolve the State assemblies of Bahawalpur and Khairpur provinces.West Pakistan formally came into being as united province on 14 October 1955.

OTHER POLICIES.

MODERNIZATION.

Iskander Mirza’s government program initiated an industrialization and rural development programme. Karachi airport was completed in 1955 and modernization of railway continued.The telephone system was expanded. Mirza publicised government provision in health and education services.However,these were not always as extensive as the government made.

EAST PAKISTAN.

East Pakistan had always been poorer than West Pakistan and its people had not been involved in the decision making process of government. Their natural discontent was made worse by food shortages and other problems caused by severe flooding through 1955. Chaudhri Muhammad Ali resigned as Prime Minister on 12 September 1956. Mirza replaced him with Hussein shaheed Suhrawardy, a politician from East Pakistan.He hoped that giving the most important Cabinet post to a politician from East Pakistan would help to win support from there for his government.

Suhrawardy kept his job for only a year.He had no desire to be “puppet” Prime Minister and pressed hard for Mirza to allow him to have a meaningful degree of authority.He was dismissed in October 1957. Suhrawardy showed what a shrewd politician he was by asking Mirza to put his popularity to the test by holding a vote in the Assembly. Mirza knew that Suhrawardy would probably win this vote and refused.

On 18 October 1957 Iskander Mirza appointed Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar to replace Suhrawardy. His government was a collection of politicians with differing views which could not even agree on major issues, such as the One Unit Scheme. Feroz Khan Noon was Mirza Next choice.Noon’s government contained members from a number of political parties and was even more divided than that of Chundrigar. He was forced to appoint a large Cabinet (26 members out of the 80 in the Assembly) in the hope that this would help bring a;shades of opinion into the government and create unity.Inevitably,it did not. Mirza now found himself in a very difficult position.His rule was becoming increasingly unpopular and the 1956 Constitution had been introduced with the promise of elections in 1957. Mirza dare not call these as he knew he would lose.

On 7 October 1958,Iskander Mirza,using the constant disagreements in the government as his excuse,proclaimed martial law with himself as President. Iskander Mirza had lost the support of many of the leading politicians and was alarmed by a plan by Suhrawardy to unite the political leaders of Bengal and Punjab against him.therefore,Iskander Mirza turned to the military.He asked Mirza turned to the military.He asked the Commander in Chief of the Army,General Ayub Khan to take charge as Chief Martial Law Administrator.

On 24 October he Appointed Ayub Khan as Prime Minister .Ayub Khan had on several occasions declined an offer from Ghulam Muhammad to take over the country, but by 1958 he had come to believe that it was now necessary.On 27 October he forced Mirza to resign and was exiled to London.Pakistan began its first period of military rule.

WHY WAS EAST PAKISTAN UPSET OVER THE ELECTORATES ISSUE.

The constitution did not resolve the the difficult issue of separate electorates.Before independence the Muslim League had advocated separate electorate to protect the rights of minorities. Because of the distribution of Hindu voters in East Bengal,the Hindus could control about 142 seats out of 309.Under separate electorates they would only be entitled to 70 seats.When in April 1957,the National Assembly rejected separate electorates it simply added to the anger and frustration of many East Pakistani politicians.

DECLARATION OF MARTIAL LAW OCTOBER 1958.

  • The Constitution of 23 March 1956 will be abrogated.
  • The government will be dismissed with immediate effect.
  • the National and Provincial Assemblies will be dissolved.
  • All political parties will be abolished.
  • Until alternative arrangements,Pakistan will remain under martial law.

  • This Lecture was made and Research by Muhammad Fawad Khan.
  • This Lecture is helpful to INDO-PAK & PAK/AFFAIRS.
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