Pakistan has had a long and complicated history of prime ministers. A quick view of the history of the country would prove it; none of the prime ministers to date have held office for an entire parliamentary term. And the history of the country is filled with it all; assassinations, death sentences, coups, dissolving the cabinet and disqualification.
As Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the only prime minister who could have completed the entire parliamentary tenure, was disqualified on July 28, 2017, we are compelled to look back on history and remember all his predecessors.
The Pakistan prime minister’s slot is what the professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts is for Hogwarts – no one finishes their entire term.
Khwaja Nazimuddin, 1951-1953
The history begins with Khwaja Nazimuddin who held office in 1951, after the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan. The then Governer-General Nizamuddin became the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Soon after coming to power, there were riots and protests in Punjab against the government, and so he decided to declare Martial Law through Lieutenant General Azam. However, newly appointed Governer-General Malik Ghulam asked Nazimuddin to step down as the PM, but he refused. Ghulam then used the reserve powers in the Government of India Act, 1953, and dismissed Nazimuddin. The Supreme court ruled against intervention in the action, and instead ruled for fresh elections of 1954.
Mohammad Ali Bogra, 1953-1955
The next to take up the office was Mohammad Ali Bogra, a Bengali politician who was appointed by Malik Ghulam as the PM until the new elections. In 1955, Bogra approved Iskander Mirza as the acting Governer-General while Malik Ghulam was in the UK for his medical treatment. Soon after the appointment, acting Governor-General Mirza began having confrontation with Prime Minister Bogra on regional disparity though both were Bengali and were from Bengal, and forced the Prime Minister Bogra to resign that ended Bogra administration. Mirza also dismissed Malik Ghulam.
The next to come in power was removed, or rather removed from existence was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto – a man who many claim is still alive in the hearts and streets of the people of Pakistan. Bhutto was in power from 1993 – 1997, where he was ousted by a military coup by General Zia, and was then ordered death sentence. He was hanged to death in 1977 under the military dictatorship of Zia Ul Haq. Bhutto’s death received international attention, and many have given the most popular figure of Larkana the label of a “martyr”.
Muhammad Khan Junejo, 1985–1988
After the military rule of General Zia, where there was strict dictatorship, came the government of Muhammad Khan Junejo, who served as the PM from 1985-1988. However, General Zia dismissed Junejo’s Government using the controversial rule under Article 58(2) b of the Constitution. According to General Zia, Junejo’s Government had been dismissed because the law and order situation had broken down to an alarming extent and the government could not be run in accordance with the constitution, with the use of the 8th Amendment.
In 1988, Pakistan received its first female Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. She came to power for a very short while, and was dismissed two years later by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Benazir was criticised for being indecisive and for being unable to maintain control, while Asif Ali Zardari also gained a lot of negative popularity. The president dismissed her government under the 8th Amendment claiming that her government was unable to maintain domestic law and order.
Immediately after Bhutto; Pakistan saw Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif gain power for the first time in 1990, as the Prime Minister of the country. However, Nawaz had issues with the presidency and there was subsequent political stand-off between the two powerful positions. In July 1993, Nawaz resigned under pressure from the Pakistan Armed Forces, but this also resulted in the removal of the president Ghulam Ishaq Khan as well. Both of them were forced to resign, and a new interim and transitional government was formed till the elections.
Benazir Bhutto, 1993-1997
Benazir returned to power immediately after Nawaz, in 1993, with all the more popularity and support. But again, her government was not to make it to full term, three years after her government was formed, it was dismissed. Her government was abolished for the second time under the Eighth amendment, but this time by President Leghari. He stated that it was on the basis of corruption, and while Benazir turned to the Supreme Court against Leghari’s actions, claiming them unconstitutional – the SC ruled against her.
Nawaz Sharif, 1997-1999
While the government was essentially a ping-pong ball between Nawaz and Benazir, both taking turns after the first’s government gets dismissed; Nawaz came to power in 1997 after Benazir’s dismissal as the PM for the second time.
However, this wasn’t Nawaz’s lucky time either; the military placed him on trial for kidnapping, murder, hijacking, terrorism and corruption. The military court convicted him and gave him a life sentence until the Saudi King Fahd intervened and expressed how this would lead to further instability of Pakistan. General Pervez Musharraf, who led the coup against Nawaz, wrote in his memoirs that it was the Saudi King Fahd who saved Nawaz’s life, or else he would have met the same fate as Bhutto. Nawaz was ordered exile for 10 years.
After a series of resignations, in 2008, Pakistan welcomed PM Yousaf Raza Gilani. He was the first Prime Minister to be convicted while holding office under charges of Contempt of Court. On June 2012, four years after Gilani had come to power; he was ousted and disqualified on the 26 April conviction against him. The Supreme Court stated in its standing orders that “Gilani was ineligible to hold the Prime Minister’s office after the April 26 conviction” and that all orders given by him to date would stand null and void.
Nawaz Sharif, 2013-2017
And so now we come to 2013, where Nawaz was elected for the position of PM for the third time; this time with hopes that someone would complete the parliamentary term. He took an oath in 2013, and till 2016 was in power with respect. After the Panamagate papers scandal, Nawaz’s position seemed a little shaky. After Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) filed a petition in the Supreme Court after the papers were revealed. The investigation which began in 2016, finally ended in 2017 after the SC ousted and disqualified him as the PM. A JIT was formed, and the entire Sharif family’s wealth was studied.
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