Pakistan - A young country with many leaders. Did they all fail?

Term Paper, 2005

20 Pages, Grade: 2,0



Wissenschaftliche Seminararbeit
“Pakistan – a young country with many leaders:
Did they all fail?”

1 Introduction

2 Emergence of a country – the great forefathers Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the theory of two nations

3 The evolution of a constitution – political changes and their influence on the constitution
3.1 General problems in creating a Pakistani constitution

4 Pakistan under its different leaders
4.1 The Khan's: Liaqat Ali, Ayub and Yahya Khan
4.2 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
4.3 Zia-ul-Haq
4.4 Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif
4.5 Pervez Musharraf

5 The Constitution: How it worked throughout time

7 Summary


Table of Abbreviations

1 Introduction

Writing an essay about a constitution which has undergone as many changes as Pakistan's did is not an easy task. One cannot look at a final product just stating what the current situation is and how people do get along with it. Understanding any constitution and especially the Pakistani one is a complex process of drawing a picture of history – a history of a religion, a history of a people and a history of lasting political changes. Trying to understand the Pakistani constitution is trying to understand how this constitution evolved; trying to understand why the Pakistanis are more content under the current dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf than they have been for a long time before; trying to understand the evolution of one of the world religions, namely Islam, and how it influenced the constitution; trying to get an understanding of what happened in this country. After having read this essay one will most probably come to the conclusion that this constitution is in no way finished, that it will undergo changes for the next 58 years as it has done for the last 58 years. Another conclusion will be that to date almost all of the Pakistani leaders failed in one way or the other.

In the following the historical background that established the framework for the country that we look at today will be described – a country ruled by a self proclaimed military dictator; a country with a per capita income of 700 $[1] per annum; a country which is at constant struggle with its nearest neighbours, namely India and Afghanistan – and relations to Iran and China haven't always been the best as well; a country that has been dependent on subsidies of Western nations, especially the United States for decades; a country that suffers from deep inner disruptions between fundamentalists and moderate or more liberal, more democratic Muslims; but most of all, a very young country still searching for its very own way to become an "Islamic democracy" one day.

In order to outline the historical development of Pakistan and finally describe the current situation of this nation I will go into detail about every legislative period, which important amendments to the constitution were made during that span of time and what the effects on the people were always taking in account the most controversial subject of religion and how it was exercised by the leaders.

2 Emergence of a country – the great forefathers Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the theory of two nations

The so-called Two-Nations-Theory goes back as far as 1930 when Muhammad Iqbal (1876-1938), a poet, writer and philosopher of Kashmiri origin first publicly announced his idea of creating a separate state for the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent when addressing the Indian president at the Allahabad Annual Session of the All-India Muslim League. Although Iqbal's visions seemed to be very close to a concept often described as Islamic socialism many of his views, for example his words about "static, out of time, dogmatic approach to Islam"[2] as being "a way to inescapable stagnation"[3] are often cited in works about the problems of the Islamic world even today. However, ten years had to pass till the moment when Muhammad Ali Jinnah on behalf of his party, the All India Muslim League, at the Lahore Annual Session of the Indian Congress publicly announced their demand of founding an independent Islamic state. The task to explain his vision to the people, to the Indian Congress leaders as well as the British government took him a lifetime. Jinnah, in Pakistan referred to as Quaid-e-Azam, the "Great Leader"[4] or "Father of the Nation"[5], is to be seen as the founder of Pakistan. Although his idea had at first been rejected by both the Indian government and the British Imperial power (who still were involved in Indian politics although the Government of India Act 1919 officially granted the status of a dominion to India) Lord Mountbatten and J. Nehru finally agreed to the partition – mostly because of the simple reason that Hindu and Muslim nationalist movements caused many political disturbances in India. Their plan was to set up two separate states – India in the centre of the Indian subcontinent and Pakistan in the north-eastern and north-western parts – which meant that Pakistan was divided into West- Pakistan (today's territory of the state) and East- Pakistan (today's territory of Bangladesh). Little time passed between the formal acceptance of the idea (June 3rd, 1947) and the actual creation of the dominion of Pakistan (August 14th, 1947); this is the reason why the demarcation line between India and Pakistan was never affirmed properly – what evolved was the Kashmir conflict for which a solution is still to be found.

Just shortly before the right to set up a state was granted to M.A. Jinnah he pronounced his vision of what should be essential points of the not yet drawn up Pakistani constitution. According to him a "secular democratic system of government"[6] was one of the most important things. Furthermore, a national identity should be of higher importance to the people than the feeling of belonging to a religion although their state was to be ruled by a government that always acted according to the key Islamic principles of social justice, equality and tolerance.

Jinnah's plan originally was to formulate the Pakistani constitution within a period specified as being between six month and two years[7]. The death of M.A. Jinnah in 1948 was one of the reasons that it, in fact, took the Pakistani government more than nine years to create this constitution.

3 The evolution of a constitution – political changes and their influence on the constitution

3.1 General problems in creating a Pakistani constitution

The problems firstly evolving could be divided into three groups: religious problems, problems evolving through regional, geographical and linguistic discrepancies and the obsession with power exhibited by many Pakistani politicians throughout history.

The religious problem was and still is mainly an ongoing dispute between the ulema, religious scholars who "act as the guardians of the interpretations of the sacred tests"[8] and tend to have rather fundamentalist views on how to set up a strictly theocratic Islamic Pakistani constitution and more liberal politicians who want to stick to Jinnah's idea of a more secular state.

Geographical, linguistic and regional discrepancies were likely to arise as the two parts of the country were divided by almost 1000 kilometres of Indian territory, there was no all-embracing language but many different ones (Urdu, Panjabi, Sindh, Hindko, Baluchi, Brohi, Pashto, Persion – just to name a few) and the different regions of Pakistan were populated by different ethnicities. The only thing most of the Pakistani people had in common was their religion – Islam.

Obsession with power, which can easily end up in a dictatorship, is not a phenomenon that only emerged in Pakistan. But a thing that should be noted about Pakistan is that many of the Pakistani leaders were dazzling and more or less popular leaders who often came from the lines of the military. Almost all of them tried, in one way or the other to somehow avoid working with a parliamentary government but set up an either military or popular dictatorship instead. And exactly that happened after M.A. Jinnah's death…

In the following I will explain, very shortly, the types of regimes evolving under different governments in Pakistan as well as which impacts those regimes had on the developments of the constitution and the living standard of the people. I will not go into detail about every single leader involved in Pakistani politics but give a rough outline of the outstanding ones instead.

4 Pakistan under its different leaders

4.1 The Khan's: Liaqat Ali, Ayub and Yahya Khan

Liaqat Ali Khan who has been Prime Minister under the Jinnah government proceeded in working on a draft of the constitution together with the Constitutional Assembly after Jinnah's dead. This was not an easy task as from the very beginning the disagreements between the Ulema and the liberal democrats present in the assembly were massive. A deadlocked situation between the fundamentalists who claimed that the principles of an Islamic state were completely inconsistent with a democratic parliamentary government and the liberal democrats who were strongly in favour of exactly this parliamentary government was daily business in this assembly. An important personality during this time and even today was Maulana Maudoodi. Being a rather fundamentalist religious scholar he set up four principles that, in his opinion should be made fundamental parts of the constitution:

1. Recognition of the supreme power of the Almighty […]
2. Recognition of Shariat as a fundamental law [...]
3. Bringing all laws in the country in conformity with Shariat […]
4. State policies of Pakistan should not contradict the main principles of Islam.[9]

Those are certainly all points that are hard to combine with the constitution of a modern democratic state.

The Constitutional Assembly missed several deadlines to come out with a draft. After the murder of Liaqat Ali Khan in 1951 the hole political situation emerged to be in a complete tangle. Different people came to power, political parties kept arguing with one another and about a new draft no one dared to think during those times.

However, 1956 is stated as the year when Pakistan officially had a constitution for the first time. It was very similar to the Indian basic law of 1935 and in no way adequate for Pakistan's special situation of being an Islamic state with no efficiently working government, with an incoherent territory and a people without a consistent national identity. But what was even worse was that the validity of this constitution was never officially proclaimed as it failed to announce the date of the election of a new government – which obviously never came into being.

The military coup of 1958 operated by General Ayub Khan was not only a salvation of the unstable political climate in the country but also leaded Pakistan into the direction of a short period of economic growth. However, the constitution had been suspended by his predecessor a few days before the coup and Ayub Khan declared martial law. His plan was to draft a new constitution quickly, with less Islamic influence (in his opinion an Islamic constitution would mean that Pakistan would "go back to medieval times"[10] ) and more emphasis on democratic elements. He, for example, drafted a bill which was designed to ban polygamy from the Pakistani society and set a minimum age for marriage. Naturally, because of this bill and his act to remove the word Islamic from the name of the state in the constitution proclaimed by him in 1962 (Islamic Republic of Pakistan was at his time only named Republic of Pakistan) caused a lot of bad blood with the conservative religious scholars. This was probably the reason for him to favour a presidential form of government as opposed to the parliamentary one. However, it should be mentioned that his government was a completely military one only during the short period of time from him implementing martial law until the elections. After those elections the military openly withdrew from the politics – of course they still ruled behind the curtains.



[2] Oleg V. Pleshov, Islamism and travails of democracy in Pakistan (Delhi: Greenwich Millennium Press 2004) 45.

[3] Ibid., 45

[4] Ibid., 51

[5] Ibid., 51

[6] Ibid., 51

[7] Karl J. Newman, "Innen- und verfassungspolitische Probleme"Pakistan: Das Land und seine Menschen, Geschichte, Kultur, Staat und Wirtschaft. M. Usman Malik and Annemarie Schimmel (eds.). (Tübingen und Basel: Horst Erdmann Verlag 1976) 250.

[8] Hassan Riaz, Faithlines: Muslim Conceptions of Islam and Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) 15.

[9] Pleshov, Islamism and travails of democracy in Pakistan, 77.

[10] ibid., 87.

Excerpt out of 20 pages


Pakistan - A young country with many leaders. Did they all fail?
Martin Luther University  (Institut für PoWi)
Ps: Nicht-demokratische Herrschaftssysteme
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
523 KB
Work about different leaderships of Pakistan since its foundation till nowadays (Musharraf dictatorship)
Pakistan, Nicht-demokratische, Herrschaftssysteme
Quote paper
Anna Lippert (Author), 2005, Pakistan - A young country with many leaders. Did they all fail?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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