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PakistanPast and Present Assignment

1965 Elections: Ayub Khan v/s Fatima Jinnah

By Ema Anis
Mass Communication B.S. Final Year Submitted to: Maam Sadia Mahmood

The political issue of Pakistan's history that is being reflected in this paper is 1965 elections held by General Mohammad Ayub Khan (1906-1975) against the Quaid-e-Azam's sister Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah. These elections were the first ever elections in Pakistan to be held under a stated Constitution, therefore, the 1962 Constitution has also been highlighted in the paper in order to give a background to the elections held. The paper also discusses in detail the concept of Basic Democracies introduced in the very same Constitution.

Pakistan's political history has been a very haphazard one right from the time when Pakistan came into existence. The most harsh thing that could have ever happened in the course of history was the demise of the founder of Pakistan, the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, just after one year of independence. Liaquat Ali Khan, the then prime minister, also due to certain reasons was somehow unable to bring the country under a stated Constitution, and the first ever constitution to be implemented in Pakistan came in the year 1956 under the reign of Iskander Mirza. The elections under this constitution were supposed to be held in 1957 but could not be held due to some political disruption in the country. And just within two years of the implementation of the constitution, it was abrogated with the declaration of Martial Law in 1958 under the presidency of Iskander Mirza with General Mohammad Ayub Khan as the Chief Martial Law Administrator.1 The military intervention continued its journey as Ayub Khan ousted Iskander Mirza and took over his position. At first, the nation was assumedly content with the dictatorship as it was tired of the reckless politics by the politicians of the country. But soon, they realised that dictatorship wasn't good enough either and could not replace democracy under any circumstances. With this, a time came when Ayub Khan had to restore the trust of the nation in him for which he appointed a commission to report on the future political framework of Pakistan in the year 1960. The Commission was headed by former Chief Justice of Pakistan Muhammad Shahabuddin and had ten other members, five from each East and West Pakistan. This Commission presented a report of the Constitution to Ayub Khan in 1961 which was examined by him and his Cabinet, and approved and brought into effect in 1962.2 Ayub Khan, to strengthen the image that he was applying a democratic rule, decided to hold presidential elections under the Basic Democracies concept he had brought. These elections are to be considered as the first presidential elections to be held in Pakistan under a constitution. However, as the constitution and the Basic Democracies concept both came under Ayub and assigned him all the powers, it can be safely assumed with a study of history that the elections that gave the presidential powers to Ayub Khan were rigged and not entirely fair.

Dictatorship within Democracy

1 2

Tahir Kamran, Democracy and Governance in Pakistan, (South-Asia Partnership Pakistan), 46 Ibid, 48

All along the history, there have been leaders as well as the masses that have hued and cried massively for the attainment and prevalence of democracy in the country. Not much was different with Ayub Khan either. In his words, he was a staunch believer of democracy; but in practice, he used all the concepts of dictatorship and covered them up under the banner of democracy, presumable to gain favour of the entire majority who wanted democracy. He brought about a constitution that covered up the main ideas of dictatorship, devised a policy of elections that went in his favour and then earned his dictatorial position under the same criteria.

Centralisation of Power
The 1962 Constitution brought a presidential form of government as opposed to the former parliamentary form, centralising powers in the hands of one person-- the president of the country. The term of the President was five years to act as Head of State as well as Chief Executive solely responsible for country's administration. The Provincial Governors, Ministers and heads of the Judiciary all were appointed and removed by him. He was eligible to promulgate Ordinances and veto against legislated laws only override-able by two-thirds of the National Assembly. The president was to be elected indirectly by an Electoral College formed by not less than 80,000 Basic Democrats (B.D.), equally distributed between the two provinces. The members of the Assemblies were also elected by the Basic Democrats. 3 There was a possibility of the president being impeached by the National Assembly on charge of violating the Constitution or on gross misconduct, but only if one-third of the total members of the NA would give a written notice to the Speaker for the removal of the president. If the resolution was passed by votes of not less than three-fourths of the NA members, only then the president could be impeached. Moreover, if the resolution failed to obtain one-half of NA members, then the movers of the resolution would cease to be the members of the Assembly. Therefore, it was the Assembly that was to serve as a court in matters of impeachment and could amend the Constitution but that too with two-thirds of majority. However, if the president's veto was over-ridden, he had the right to ask for the assent of the Electoral College. This fact cannot be ignored that as there were no political parties involved in the government, the members of the National Assembly could be the very loyalists of the president himself. This centralisation of power under the name of a democratic system was in fact a dictatorial form of government, where almost every power of the state went into the hands of the president. This part of the constitution helped only the person who brought it which indicates a vested interest and a lust of power on behalf of the general.

Tahir Kamran, Democracy and Governance in Pakistan, 54

Basic Democracies
Ayub Khan's martial law regime, critics observed, was a form of representational dictatorship, but the new political system, introduced in 1959 as Basic Democracy, was an apt expression of what Ayub Khan called the particular genius of Pakistan. Basic Democracies were concerned with no more than local government and rural development. They were meant to provide a two-way channel of communication between the Ayub Khan regime and the common people and allow social change to move slowly. In 1960, the elected members of the union councils voted to confirm Ayub Khan's presidency, and under the 1962 constitution they formed an electoral college to elect the president, the National Assembly, and the provincial assemblies. On Feb 6, 1960 the basic democrats were asked a simple question: Do you have confidence in President Ayub Khan? Thus, Ayub Khan legitimized his position as the President of Pakistan by securing 95.6 percent votes.4 This Basic Democracies concept was brought into effect by Ayub Khan mainly for the purpose of maintaining a good relationship with the bureaucrats and the feudal lords in the country, in order to earn more power, more favour of the influential people in the country and consequently, more access to the nation's resources. Ayesha Jalal explains the concept and working of Basic Democracies in her book The State of Martial Rule in the following way:

It was the bureaucracy particularly the CSPs that assigned the privilege to nominate half of the members of district and divisional councils in the newly introduced system of Basic Democracies. This arrangement in nomination virtually tipped the balance in favor of the rural politician. The role of industrial labour and intelligentsia, considered to be most volatile sections of the urban societies, was disenfranchised. The basic democracies order was opposed by the urban section of the society but it was incorporated in the Constitution 1962. 5
Basic Democracies was basically meant to rule out the possibility of any politician coming into power. People could be elected only on an independent basis without any sort of affiliation with any political party. This also helped Ayub Khan and also other future dictators of the country in restoring power to themselves for decades.

4 5

Tahir Kamran, Democracy and Governance in Pakistan, 55 Ayesha Jalal, The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan's Political Economy of Defence (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1990) 303.

One way of keeping politicians at bay and ensuring safe stay of Ayub Khan in the Presidents office was to formulate a policy of political exclusion. This was done in the form of Elective Bodies Disqualification Order (EBDO) authorizing newly established tribunals to put on trial the politicians for misconduct. Prosecution could be avoided if the accused agreed not to be a candidate for any elective body for a period of seven years. About 7,000 individuals were relegated to ignominy through EBDO in 1959. Hussein Shaheed Suhrawardy, Qazi Isa and Sahibzada Hassan Mehmud opted to face the trial hence they were arrested and faced prosecution 6
An interesting fact about the Basic Democracies is that although it may have been an effective and representative local government system for the country, it also served two important purposes, namely, the elimination of the need for national level political leadership and hence a potentially strong source of opposition to the president, and it provided a means for the president to manipulate the public vote by manipulating the will of the Basic Democrats. It was no secret, and was amply pointed out by many a critic at that time, that it was far easier for the president to manipulate and buy-off the votes of 80,000 people than several million of them. Having created the Basic Democracies system through an executive order and gotten himself elected by more than 95% of Basic Democrats in a highly dubious referendum, Ayub Khan set upon developing a political system that suited his own control over political power and his task for creating a Constitution that, according to him, could suit the genius of the people of Pakistan.7

Other dictatorial powers

Ayub Khan did several other things during his reign that were a complete portrayal of dictatorship in Pakistan. He took total control over the media in order to malign the politicians and to restrain any opponent voice from becoming public. A Martial Law Ordinance empowered the government to take over all the newspapers that had the possibility of publishing content against the president. The Public Safety Ordinance took control of the news items that would be published in the newspapers of the following days. The Press and Publication Ordinance was also promulgated allegedly to make the publications to follow recognised principles of journalism and patriotism. Moreover, the publication of any news item related to strikes and industrial unrest was completely banned. Every newspaper was forced to publish press notes issued by the central and Provincial Governments. In order to curb the dissenting voices, a National Press Trust was conjured into existence, which was financed by 24 industrialists and patronized by the state. The avowed purpose of its establishment was to foster and promote favourable sentiments for the Ayub regime. Tahir Kamran, giving a brief picture about such powers, writes that not only the media, but also the academia became a target of dictatorship as writers were not allowed to publish their work which

Tahir Kamran, Democracy and Governance in Pakistan, 50, 51. Mohammad Ayub Khan, Friends not Masters: A political autobiography (London: Oxford University Press), 207

may have any dissenting substance in it. No person with overt leftist leanings could be employed as lecturers in universities. Josh Malih Abadi and Habib Jalib are one of those writers who became known for writing against the government and the political system in the same era and faced dire consequences as well.8

1965 Elections: Ayub v/s Fatima Jinnah

Under the Constitution of 1962, the Presidential Elections were to be held at the culmination of a five-year term of office. Having elected as President through a referendum in 1960, Ayub Khans term was to expire in February 1965 and consequently presidential elections were announced for January 2, 1965. The Opposition parties had formed a Combined Opposition Parties (COP) comprising Council Muslim League (led by Khawaja Naziumuddin), Awami League (led by Mujibur Rahman), NAP (led by Maulana Bhashani), NAP (Frontier) led by Wali Khan, Nizam-eIslam (led by Chaudhary Mohammad Ali), and Jamaat-e-Islami (led by Maulana Maududi). Also among the ranks of COP was Lt. Gen. Retd. Azam Khan who, once a major proponent of the Martial Law and Ayub Khan, had now turned his back onto his ex-Commander and was determined to oust him.9 Therefore, his party invited Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah to be their joint candidate to oppose Ayub Khans presidential bid. While leading a retired and secluded life since Jinnah death, Fatima Jinnah had been a fierce critic of Ayubs policies. Her nomination, however, may not have been equally acceptable to all political parties.10 Amidst widespread concerns for and protest against pre-election rigging including rigging of elections of Basic Democrats during which as many as 8,500 of the 80,000 BDs were elected unopposed, gerrymandering of constituencies, faulty voters lists, unfair rules, and misuse of official machinery and public money, the election campaign carried with greater intensity and vigor. Both Ms. Jinnah and Ayub Khan addressed large public rallies in a large peaceful campaign. Issues were debated and candidates positions clearly stated before the electorate. The results of the elections were on announced the very next day. Ayub Khan received 49,951 electoral votes against Ms. Jinnahs 28,691. Ms. Jinnah dominated Ayub in Dhaka, Chittagong, and Karachi divisions. Despite the heaviest of odds and the entire state machinery working against her candidacy, this was a remarkable showing of strength by Ms. Jinnah. COP refused to accept the election results and Ms. Jinnah charged that the[se] elections have been rigged. I am sure that the so-called victory of Mr. Ayub is his greatest defeat.11 The results of 1965 elections remained disputed ever since thus further undermining the legitimacy of Ayubs Government.
8 9

10 11

Tahir Kamran, Democracy and Governance in Pakistan, 51, 52 Tahir Kamran, Electoral politics in Pakistan (1955-1969), (Pakistan Vision Vol 10, No 1), 92
Hamid Khan, Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan, (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2001), 169 Ibid, 175

Another factor that had been attributed to the victory of the Ayub Kan was the dubious role of Maulana Bhashani. He was a staunch supporter of the Miss Fatima Jinnah but remained inactive during the election campaign in East Pakistan. The rumor was that immediately before the elections Bhashani had been won over the Ayub and a deal had been worked out between them. But that contention is corroborated by Iftikhar Ahmad who states the refugees in Khulna and Rajshahi division who tended to support Ayub, especially since Bhashani who had considerable support in Rajshahi division did not campaign actively for Miss Jinnah. 12
During the election campaign of 1964- 65, the only available media, Radio Pakistan, adopted a policy of blackout on the opposition viewpoint and tried to reduce the coverage of Ms. Fatima Jinnah. Lahore radio station launched a programme Massi Mehru to ridicule womens participation in the elections. A 1964 article published in The Times Magazine on December 25 quoted Ayub Khan as thrashing Fatima Jinnah in various ways. He sniffed at the fact that Fatima Jinnah was called the mother of the nation and called for her to act like one. While Ms. Jinnah exclaimed at his Basic Democracies concept by saying, What sort of democracy is that? One man's democracy? Fifty persons' democracy? You can't have stability through compulsion, force and the big stick. 13 The opposition was also of the view that the registration of voters had also been done with mala fide consideration. It charged that the names of persons who had been thought to be antagonistic to the party in power had been omitted from the voter list whereas fictitious names had been included in them to enable bogus voting in favor of the ruling party. It was alleged that in East Pakistan many intending voters, who went to the registration office in Dacca during the week, following the day the Electoral College Act, 1964 was amended, were told that no instruction had been received by the East Pakistan Election Authority for further inclusion of names in the electoral rolls from the Chief Election Commissioner. The official concerned, therefore, refused to register their names. Those individuals suffered the most by that anomaly, who wanted to file their nomination for the election to the Electoral College but could not do so since their names had been omitted from the voters lists. It was alleged that the procedure laid down for the Electoral College election was not fool proof. The procedure suffers from certain built in loopholes permitting large scale bogus voting and all manners of corrupt practices. Firstly, it was not required of the voters to sign his name or give his thumb impression before receiving his ballot paper from the presiding offices and secondly, identity of the voters was justified by a polling agent of any of the candidates after which he was accepted as prima-facai voter in the unit. Although the identity of a voter could be challenged by another agent, the challenged vote, however, was taken into account for the purpose of counting.


Tahir Kamran, Electoral Politics in Pakistan (1955-1969), 94 Pakistan: Trouble with Mother, Time Magazine, December 25, 1964.

Introduction of basic democracies and 1962 Constitution were the means to perpetuate the personal rule of Ayub Khan. He managed and manipulated the elections with the help of state machinery. Besides, muzzling of the press and particularly suppression of the leftist political forces had an adverse fall out in the long run. Ayub Khan was indeed provided a prototype for the subsequent Army autocrats to emulate.

The 1965 elections brought power to General Muhammad Ayub Khan, just as he had envisaged; but this was not the end of the practice of holding elections in the name of democracy that actually supports dictatorship. General Yahya Khan, General Zia ul Haq and General Pervez Musharraf, the former presidents of Pakistan, all used the exact same technique to lengthen their regime in the country.

General Musharrafs promise of restoring real democracy through local elections was seen by many as a gimmick to consolidate his personal power on the same pattern as Ayub Khan had done by putting in place the Basic Democracies in 1962. 14
Following Ayubs example, and for a good reason, military dictators in Pakistan have emphasized upon local government instead of provincial and national government. Moreover, researchers have argued that one of the chief by-products of creating these local government set-ups has been the proliferation of perks and patronage in the Pakistani politics. Therefore, it can safely concluded that the concept of politics brought in the country in its initial year by General Mohammad Ayub Khan proved to be destructive for the country, as it did not end with the end of the general but rather passed on from one dictator to another in the course of history of the country.


Tahir Kamran, Democracy and Governance in Pakistan, 183.

1. (ICG), I. C. (28 September 2005). Authoritarianism and Political Party Reform in Pakistan. Pakistan: Asia Report N102. 2. Beg, M. A. (1998). Democracy displaced in Pakistan: Case history of disasters of social pollution. Karachi: Research & Development Publications. 3. Feldman, H. (1967). Revolution in Pakistan: A Study of the Martial Law Administration. London: Oxford University Press. 4. Jalal, A. (1990). The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan's Political Economy of Defence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 5. Kamran, T. (2008). Democracy and Governance in Pakistan. Lahore: South Asia PartnershipPakistan. 6. Kamran, T. Electoral Politics in Pakistan (1955-1969), Vol 10, No. 1. Lahore: Pakistan Vision. 7. Khan, H. (2001). Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press. 8. Khan, M. A. (1967). Freinds not Masters: A political autobiography. London: Oxford University Press. 9. Pakistan: Trouble with Mother. (1964, December 25). Time Magazine .