Collapse of the Parliamentary System
The parliamentary system outlined in the 1956 constitution required
disciplined political parties, which did not exist. The Muslim
League--the one political party that had appeared capable of developing
into a national democratic party--continued to decline in prestige.
In West Pakistan, Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province resented
the political and economic dominance accorded Punjab and were
hostile to the "One Unit Plan" introduced by the Constituent Assembly
the year before. The One Unit Plan merged the western provinces
of Balochistan, the NorthWest Frontier Province, Punjab, and Sindh
into a single administrative unit named West Pakistan, which in
the new Legislative Assembly was to have parity with the more
populous province of East Pakistan.
In 1956 Suhrawardy formed a coalition cabinet at the center that
included the Awami League and the newly formed Republican Party
of the West Wing, which had broken off from the Muslim League.
Suhrawardy was highly respected in East Pakistan, but he had no
measurable political strength in West Pakistan. By taking a strong
position in favor of the One Unit Plan, he lost support in Sindh,
the North-West Frontier Province, and Balochistan.
Societal violence and ethnic unrest further complicated the growth
and functioning of parliamentary government. In West Pakistan,
chief minister Khan Sahib was assassinated. In the North-West
Frontier Province, Khan Sahib's brother, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan,
of the National Awami Party, turned his back on national politics
and said he would work for the attainment of a separate homeland
for the Pakhtuns. And in Balochistan, the khan of Kalat again
declared his independence, but the Pakistan Army restored Pakistani
On October 7, 1958, President Mirza, with the support of the
army, suspended the 1956 constitution, imposed martial law, and
canceled the elections scheduled for January 1959. Mirza was also
supported by the civil service bureaucracy, which harbored deep
suspicions of politicians. Nonetheless, on October 27 Mirza was
ousted and sent into lifetime exile in London. General Ayub Khan,
the army commander in chief, assumed control of a military government.
Data as of April 1994