CSS Solved Pakistan Affairs Past Papers | The Factional Politics Of The Early Years (1947-58) And Their Impact On The Democratic Process Of Pakistan.
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In this question, the examiner asked you to highlight the role of factional politics in the early history of Pakistan and to what extent it has impacted the democratic process in Pakistan. So, first, in one paragraph, you need to elaborate precisely on the conditions prevalent at the time of independence. Second, generally, describe what you understand by the phrase “factional politics” in the context of the Pakistan political scenario. When done, the next step is to write the reasons behind the factional politics in Pakistan. After this, give names of some of the factional divisions of the Muslim League that resulted in factional politics in the country. Then, start with the second part of the answer by telling the negative impacts of factional politics on the democratic process of Pakistan. Lastly, end your answer with powerful critical analysis and a conclusion paragraph.
- Despite the shared religion of its Muslim population, the country has been engaged in a perilous struggle to define a national identity and develop a political system for its linguistically diverse population.
- The ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity has resulted in factional politics causing the Muslim League to break down into multiple factions.
- This has resulted in lingering regional tensions and successive failures in forming a constitution.
- All of this derailed the process of democratic development in the country, paving the way for military leaders to impose martial law.
2. Conditions prevalent during the Independence of Pakistan
3. Factional Politics of the Early Years
4. Reasons for the factional politics
- Leadership vacuum after the death of Quaid e Azam and Liaqat Ali Khan
- Dictatorial role of the head of state
- Issue of federalism
5. Factions of the Muslim League Party
- Jinnah Awami Muslim League (JAML)
- Azad Pakistan Party (APP)
- Sindh Muslim League
- Republican Party
6. Impact of factional politics on the democratic development of Pakistan
- A rise in Regional Politics against the spirit of democracy:
- Impact on the Provincial Elections
- Military coups and the abrogation of the Constitution of 1956
7. Critical Analysis
Answer to the Question
Since its inception, the crisis of national identity and prevalent factional politics have remained an Achilles heel in the democratic development of Pakistan. Despite the shared religion of its Muslim population, the country has been engaged in a dangerous struggle to define a national identity and develop a political system for its linguistically diverse population. Yet, the ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity have caused lingering regional tensions and successive failures in forming a constitution. After one year of independence, Pakistan lost its founding father, Quaid e Azam, in 1948, creating a leadership vacuum for the newly formed country and moving it towards the path of constitution-making with corrupt and selfish politicians, lack of consensus among the political elites, and issues of federalism. Moreover, at the time of independence, the Muslim League failed to form a piece of the effective party machinery in the Muslim-majority provinces, consequently having no absolute control over either the politicians or the population that was organized in the name of Islam. So, it was divided into various factions, including Jinnah Awami League, Sindh Muslim League, and Azad Pakistan Party. About nine years after the independence, seven prime ministers, two Governors-General and two presidents were changed. In effect, the delay in making a constitution and holding general elections, and then the failure to implement the constitution of 1956 in letter and spirit, derailed the process of democratic development in the country, paving the way for military leaders to impose martial law. Therefore, the frequent change in the governments and the polemics of politicians did not allow the system to work as envisaged by Pakistan’s ancestors. This answer comprehensively deals with the history of factional politics in the early years of Pakistan and its impact on the country’s constitutional development.
Conditions prevalent during the Independence of Pakistan
At the time of independence, no mass political party could gain the public’s loyalties countrywide. The Muslim League could not form a piece of the effective party machinery in the Muslim-majority provinces, consequently having no real control over either the politicians or the population that was organized in the name of Islam. Even if the Islamic sentimentalities were the greatest hope of keeping the Pakistani provinces united, their pluralist ethnicities and linguistic associations challenged the Central authority’s stumbling blocks. The resulting crisis, issues and conflicts resulted in political instability in the country. For example, no efficient politicians could formulate a constitution for Pakistan, so the Indian Act of 1935 remained in force for nine years in the country with some amendments. Moreover, the lengthy constitution-making process gave birth to a series of issues for the eastern and western wings of the country. Various other political parties, including Awami Muslim League, emerged, but no healthy opposition was formed which could criticize the government and its policies. Thus, these circumstances led to weak democratic development in Pakistan.
Factional Politics of the Early Years
Before independence, the ruling Muslim League was the major party of Pakistan that played an important role in the Pakistan Movement. After the independence, the constituent assembly had majority members from the same party, even the Prime Minister and Governor General belonged to Muslim League. However, the party could not maintain leverage over Pakistan’s provinces. Immediately after the death of Quaid e Azam became fraught with various factions; the in-fighting turned bitter, and the party began to fracture.
Reasons for the factional politics:
Leadership vacuum after the death of Quaid e Azam and Liaqat Ali KhanThe early demise of Muhammad Ali Jinnah proved to be an Achilles heel for Pakistan’s political development. His death created a political vacuum exploited by the narrow vested interests of the political elites. Unfortunately, adding fuel to the fire, after two years of Quaid’s death, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, was also got assassinated. With the early deaths of these two iconic leaders of the Pakistan movement, the country became directionless, along with a leadership crisis.
“There was no leader with the calibre like that of Jinnah. Those (from other political parties) who joined the Muslim League in the late 1940s and later established their influence over it did not have the required commitment and dedication with the party.”(Akhtar Sandhu)
Dictatorial role of the head of state
Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had envisaged a democratic and progressive Pakistan where social, political and economic justice prevailed. However, the governments formed after his demise had dictatorial and unjust policies harming the country’s national integration and political stability. For instance, with the support of bureaucracy and army leadership, the second Governor General of Pakistan, Ghulam Muhammad, removed Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin from office in 1953 under section 10 of the adopted Government of India Act and appointed Muhammad Ali Bogra as a new Prime Minister.
Issue of Federalism
The objective resolution, passed in 1949, laid the important principles upon which the country’s future constitution would be based. It called for the federal form of government, but the division of power between the central and provincial governments was unclear. Therefore, it was the task of the “Basic Principles Committee” to formulate the future constitution whose reports were not liked by the East and West wings of the country. The Politicians from East Pakistan wanted maximum provincial autonomy, while the politicians of West Pakistan wanted a strong central government. Thus, such differences paved the way for factional politics in Pakistan.
Factions of the Muslim League Party
The Muslim League got divided into factions due to the members’ varying opinions. By 1956, it was just a small political party with no strength even to win the general elections.
Jinnah Awami Muslim League (JAML)
The first faction of the Muslim League was the All Pakistan Awami Muslim League, formed in 1949 by Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy. He was from East Pakistan and accused the leadership of the Muslim League of “elitism” with less contact with the public. The second faction of the Muslim League was the Jinnah Muslim League, formed in 1949 by the first Chief Minister of Punjab, Iftikhar Mamdot, who was ousted from the office after Jinnah’s death. Previously, he was the close confidant of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Both these factions joined together in 1950 to form Jinnah Awami Muslim League.
Azad Pakistan Party (APP)
Mian Iftikharrudin, a member of the Muslim League, formed a separate party in 1949 named Azad Pakistan Party, which became Pakistan’s first opposition party. Later, it merged with National Awami Party in 1957.
Sindh Muslim League
The first Chief Minister of Sindh, Ayub Khuhro, indulged in a serious in-fight with other leaders of the Muslim League when he was asked to resign. So, in 1954 he quit and created a separate party, “Sindh Muslim League”.
In 1956, Iskander Mirza, a previous member of the Muslim League, established his own party called Republican Party. It had the support of the state and the military establishment; thus, it was joined by the other members of the Muslim League. However, the growing power of the Republican Party weakened the strength of the Muslim League in the parliament.
Impact of Factional Politics on the Democratic Development of Pakistan
The establishment of multiple factions within the main political party of the Pakistan Movement, the Muslim League, paved the way for the lack of democratic development in Pakistan. The following paragraphs deal with various impacts of the factional politics of the early years.
A rise in Regional Politics against the spirit of democracy:
Multiple political parties started working in the newly created state of Pakistan, demonstrating multiple political orientations and ideologies. The main political party of Pakistan was divided among various factions. Still, instead of strengthening the democratic culture in the country, it paved the way for regional politics creating a gap between the already divided provinces of the country. They acted like the regionalist party whose main objectives were securing the rights of their particular regions rather than national interests.
The inner weaknesses and the lack of democracy within the party were the other key reasons behind its gradual fall.(Akhtar Sandhu)
Impact on the Provincial Elections
The provincial elections were held in Punjab and NWFP in 1951, where Muslim League won the majority seats and Jinnah Awami League formed the opposition. In 1953, Jinnah Awami League changed its name to Awami League and became an entirely secular centre-left party. In East Pakistan, provincial elections were held in 1954, where United Front won most seats, an alliance of Awami League, Democratic Party, Peoples Committee Party, and Nizam-i-Islam Party. Here Muslim League was able to secure only ten seats in contrast to 223 seats by the United Front. Thus, the former lost its power in the Eastern wing and subsequently in the Center as well. However, the Awami League could not play an effective role as an Opposition party due to a lack of experience and strength, especially in the province of NWFP. Thus, the factional politics in the provincial elections proved that the democracy in Pakistan was weakening as the political parties were acting against the spirit of federalism and weakening the democratic development in the country.
Military coups and the abrogation of the Constitution of 1956
The factional politics of the early years of Pakistan resulted in the political instability that attracted the military leaders to come into power and disrupt the democratic development in the country. For instance, the previous President of Pakistan, Iskandar Mirza, using his presidential powers, dismissed five Prime Ministers in 2 years, causing political turmoil in the country. Moreover, the formula of One Unit, through which all the provinces of West Pakistan were combined into a single province so as to have parity with the Eastern wing, also caused resentment among the provinces of West Pakistan. Furthermore, as the Muslim League was no more powerful due to its decrease in size and power, the country’s military found a chance to assert itself in the political dynamics of the country. Therefore, on October 7th, 1958, the constitution of Pakistan was suspended by Iskandar Mirza, the legislature was dissolved, and the political parties were banned. In addition, the Commander in Chief of the Army, General Mohammad Ayub Khan, was appointed Chief Martial Law Administrator. Thus, the military coup further weakened the political development of Pakistan.
Mohammad Ali Jinnah had always envisioned a democratic Pakistan, and many of his successors have struggled towards this goal but for not more than maintaining their own platforms of power. After the founding father’s sad demise, factional politics destroyed the Muslim League’s political unity. If the party remained united with the country’s common goal of national progress, the country might not have faced all the political, social and economic calamities it went through. The division in the political circles also caused the miserable debacle of East Pakistan, fulfilling the dream of the enemies of Pakistan to shatter it like the house of cards. Moreover, the political instability that followed also diminished Pakistan’s prospects of democratic development. That is why more than half of the country’s history is fraught with military rule challenging the hopes for a prosperous and functioning democracy.
Since the inception of Pakistan, the politicians have been corrupt, interested in maintaining their political power and securing the benefits of the elite. So, their role as the representative authority did not provide much hope for a democratic state that could provide socio-economic justice and fair administration to all Pakistani citizens. Moreover, multiple controversies over the issue of the national language, the role of Islam, and the division of power between the central government and provinces delayed constitution making and even postponed general elections. However, in 1956 after nine years of continuous struggle, a consensus was cobbled together, and Pakistan’s first constitution got declared. Nevertheless, the experiment with the democratic government was short but not sweet, as various ministries were made and broken in quick succession, and multiple Premiers were dismissed within two years of its promulgation. Hence, in October 1958, with national elections scheduled for the following year, General Mohammad Ayub Khan carried out a military coup with confounding ease and abrogated the constitution of Pakistan, further diminishing the prospects of democratic development in the country.
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