Sunday February 25, 2024

Not a single PM completed five-year term in Pakistan

July 28, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Will history repeat itself? Not a single prime minister in Pakistan has been allowed to complete his tenure since the country’s inception 70 years ago. All eyes are on the Supreme Court which is to announce one of the most important decisions of Pakistan’s history today regarding the fate of democratically-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. History might repeat itself.

The political situation in Pakistan has had a bumpy ride ever since 1947, as four times democratic governments were thrown away by military dictators, one prime minister was murdered while another was hanged by judiciary, while many were sent home by presidents and one was dismissed by the Supreme Court. Another one awaits a decision of the apex court. However, never in the history of Pakistan, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has sent home a PM under Article 184-3 of the constitution which is the suo moto jurisdiction. 

Pakistan’s first prime minister was murdered in Rawalpindi on October 16, 1951. He had assumed the charge of the premier on August 15, 1947. Then the second PM Khawaja Nazimuddin was sent home by Governor General Ghulam Muhammad on April 17, 1953. Nazimuddin knocked the doors of the Supreme Court where Justice Munir had to invent the doctrine of necessity to validate Ghulam Muhammad’s illegal act. Then came Muhammad Ali Bogra who too was dismissed by Ghulam Muhammad in 1954 but later was again appointed as PM but he did not enjoy majority in the Constituent Assembly therefore Governor General Iskender Mirza dismissed his government in 1955. Chaudhary Muhammad Ali succeeded in becoming the PM in 1955 but because of his conflict with Iskender Mirza who had become president as a result of 1956 constitution, Muhammad Ali resigned on September 12, 1956. Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy was the leader of Awami League and led the party through a victory in the 1954 elections for Constituent Assembly. He was the first person from another party than Muslim League to be appointed as a Prime Minister in 1956. He was deposed in 1957, due to differences with Iskander Mirza.

Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar was appointed by Iskander Mirza after the resignation of Suhrawardy. He remained prime minister for almost two months. Chundrigar resigned from the post in December 1957. Then Mirza appointed Feroz Khan Noon as the seventh prime minister of Pakistan. He was dismissed after Martial Law was declared in 1958 by Ayub Khan. 

After thirteen years of Martial Law, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto succeeded to power. Bhutto remained President under special arrangement till 1973 Constitution was passed. He resigned as president to become the prime minister of Pakistan after the 1973 Constitution. He went in to elections in 1977 and succeeded but was deposed the same year through coup d'état by General Muhammad Ziaul Haq in July 1977. He was hanged in 1979 by all powerful military-judicial nexus.

In 1985 non-party elections, Muhammad Khan Junejo was elected as PM of Pakistan under the worst dictators of Pakistan. As he was a political breed, he remained a threat to the dictator therefore his government was dismissed on May 29, 1988, just days after Junejo announced to probe the Ojhri Camp incident in Rawalpindi in which military’s weapons depot was exploded killing around 100 people and injuring thousands.

As a result of 1988 general elections, Benazir Bhutto came into power as PM on December 2, 1988. An impeachment move was shot down by PPP in 1989 but President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Ms Bhutto’s government on August 6, 1990 using the notorious presidential powers of Article 58 (2)b. Mian Nawaz Sharif followed Ms Bhutto and become PM for the first time in 1990. His government was dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1993 but the Supreme Court restored it later. However, the famous Kakar formula came into play when the then Army Chief Waheed Kakar forced both, Mian Nawaz Sharif and Ghulam Ishaq Khan to resign on July 18, 1993.

Ms Benazir Bhutto again became PM of Pakistan in 1993 but her second government also could last three years and his own handpicked loyal president Farooq Laghari conspired against her and dismissed her government in November 1996 using Article 58(2)b. Mian Nawaz Sharif again became PM of Pakistan as a result of February 1997 election but on October 12, 1999, General Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency in the country and threw Nawaz Sharif out of the power.

Then three PMs under the dictator Musharraf served the office, of which Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali could hold the office for 19 months only and was sent home by Musharraf. Chaudhary Shujaat acted as a stopgap arrangement for two months before Musharraf’s friend Shaukat Aziz became PM in August 2004. 

As a result of 2008 general elections, PPP succeeded to secure majority in the National Assembly and Yusuf Raza Gilani was elected as the PM. It was all well for Mr Gilani until he was convicted in a contempt of court case in Supreme Court for not writing a letter against the sitting president to the Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases. Gilani remained PM of Pakistan from March 25, 2008 to June 19, 2012. The remaining term of PPP government was completed by Raja Pervaiz Ashraf who held the office from June 2012 to March 2013.

Mian Nawaz Sharif became the PM for the third time in 2013 but as he entered the last year of his tenure, he has been engulfed by Panama Papers case in Supreme Court. The SC will announce an important judgment on Friday (today) which will decide the fate of Nawaz Sharif. Will the history repeat itself and no PM in the past 70 years would be able to complete his tenure? The answer is yet to come. Fingers are crossed.