THE AYUB KHAN ERA
In January 1951, Ayub Khan succeeded General Sir Douglas Gracey
as commander in chief of the Pakistan Army, becoming the first
Pakistani in that position. Although Ayub Khan's military career
was not particularly brilliant and although he had not previously
held a combat command, he was promoted over several senior officers
with distinguished careers. Ayub Khan probably was selected because
of his reputation as an able administrator, his presumed lack
of political ambition, and his lack of powerful group backing.
Coming from a humble family of an obscure Pakhtun tribe, Ayub
Khan also lacked affiliation with major internal power blocks
and was, therefore, acceptable to all elements.
Within a short time of his promotion, however, Ayub Khan had
become a powerful political figure. Perhaps more than any other
Pakistani, Ayub Khan was responsible for seeking and securing
military and economic assistance from the United States and for
aligning Pakistan with it in international affairs. As army commander
in chief and for a time as minister of defense in 1954, Ayub Khan
was empowered to veto virtually any government policy that he
felt was inimical to the interests of the armed forces.
By 1958 Ayub Khan and his fellow officers decided to turn out
the "inefficient and rascally" politicians--a task easily accomplished
without bloodshed. Ayub Khan's philosophy was indebted to the
Mughal and viceregal traditions; his rule was similarly highly
personalized. Ayub Khan justified his assumption of power by citing
the nation's need for stability and the necessity for the army
to play a central role. When internal stability broke down in
the 1960s, he remained contemptuous of lawyer-politicians and
handed over power to his fellow army officers.
Ayub Khan used two main approaches to governing in his first
few years. He concentrated on consolidating power and intimidating
the opposition. He also aimed to establish the groundwork for
future stability through altering the economic, legal, and constitutional
The imposition of martial law in 1958 targeted "antisocial" practices
such as abducting women and children, black marketeering, smuggling,
and hoarding. Many in the Civil Service of Pakistan and Police
Service of Pakistan were investigated and punished for corruption,
misconduct, inefficiency, or subversive activities. Ayub Khan's
message was clear: he, not the civil servants, was in control.
Sterner measures were used against the politicians. The PRODA
prescribed fifteen years' exclusion from public office for those
found guilty of corruption. The Elective Bodies Disqualification
Order (EBDO) authorized special tribunals to try former politicians
for "misconduct," an infraction not clearly defined. 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 "EBDOed." Some people, including Suhrawardy, who was arrested,
The Press and Publications Ordinance was amended in 1960 to specify
broad conditions under which newspapers and other publications
could be commandeered or closed down. Trade organizations, unions,
and student groups were closely monitored and cautioned to avoid
political activity, and imams (see Glossary) at mosques were warned
against including political matters in sermons.
On the whole, however, the martial law years were not severe.
The army maintained low visibility and was content to uphold the
traditional social order. By early 1959, most army units had resumed
their regular duties. Ayub Khan generally left administration
in the hands of the civil bureaucracy, with some exceptions.
Efforts were made to popularize the regime while the opposition
was muzzled. Ayub Khan maintained a high public profile, often
taking trips expressly to "meet the people." He was also aware
of the need to address some of the acute grievances of East Pakistan.
To the extent possible, only Bengali members of the civil service
were posted in the East Wing; previously, many of the officers
had been from the West Wing and knew neither the region nor the
language. Dhaka was designated the legislative capital of Pakistan,
while the newly created Islamabad became the administrative capital.
Central government bodies, such as the Planning Commission, were
now instructed to hold regular sessions in Dhaka. Public investment
in East Pakistan increased, although private investment remained
heavily skewed in favor of West Pakistan. The Ayub Khan regime
was so highly centralized, however, that, in the absence of democratic
institutions, densely populated and politicized Bengal continued
to feel it was being slighted.
Between 1958 and 1962, Ayub Khan used martial law to initiate
a number of reforms that reduced the power of groups opposing
him. One such group was the landed aristocracy. The Land Reform
Commission was set up in 1958, and in 1959 the government imposed
a ceiling of 200 hectares of irrigated land and 400 hectares of
unirrigated land in the West Wing for a single holding. In the
East Wing, the landholding ceiling was raised from thirty-three
hectares to forty-eight hectares (see Farm Ownership and Land
Reform , ch. 3). Landholders retained their dominant positions
in the social hierarchy and their political influence but heeded
Ayub Khan's warnings against political assertiveness. Moreover,
some 4 million hectares of land in West Pakistan, much of it in
Sindh, was released for public acquisition between 1959 and 1969
and sold mainly to civil and military officers, thus creating
a new class of farmers having medium-sized holdings. These farms
became immensely important for future agricultural development,
but the peasants benefited scarcely at all.
In 1955 a legal commission was set up to suggest reforms of the
family and marriage laws. Ayub Khan examined its report and in
1961 issued the Family Laws Ordinance. Among other things, it
restricted polygyny and "regulated" marriage and divorce, giving
women more equal treatment under the law than they had had before.
It was a humane measure supported by women's organizations in
Pakistan, but the ordinance could not have been promulgated if
the vehement opposition to it from the ulama and the fundamentalist
Muslim groups had been allowed free expression. However, this
law which was similar to the one passed on family planning, was
relatively mild and did not seriously transform the patriarchal
pattern of society.
Ayub Khan adopted an energetic approach toward economic development
that soon bore fruit in a rising rate of economic growth. Land
reform, consolidation of holdings, and stern measures against
hoarding were combined with rural credit programs and work programs,
higher procurement prices, augmented allocations for agriculture,
and, especially, improved seeds to put the country on the road
to self-sufficiency in food grains in the process described as
the Green Revolution.
The Export Bonus Vouchers Scheme (1959) and tax incentives stimulated
new industrial entrepreneurs and exporters. Bonus vouchers facilitated
access to foreign exchange for imports of industrial machinery
and raw materials. Tax concessions were offered for investment
in less-developed areas. These measures had important consequences
in bringing industry to Punjab and gave rise to a new class of
Data as of April 1994