This Article is From Apr 07, 2022

Why Has No Pakistani PM Ever Completed A Full Term? | 'Hot Mic' With Nidhi Razdan

Pakistan has a long history of Prime Ministers who have been removed from office, twice, through directly staged coups by the army, though the army has almost always been the prime player behind the scenes.

Hi, This is Hot Mic and I'm Nidhi Razdan.

Pakistan is in the middle of yet another constitutional crisis after Imran Khan ran away from facing a no-confidence motion in parliament and recommended early elections instead. Imran Khan started as the darling of Pakistan's army but fell out with the army chief and top commanders last year - the primary reason for his downfall now. Pakistan has had a long history of Prime Ministers who have been removed from office, twice, through directly staged coups by the army, though the army has almost always been the prime player behind the scenes.

Interestingly, not a single Prime Minister in Pakistan has completed a full five-year term since the country's independence in 1947. There were two key posts in 1947 Prime Minister and Governor-General who was the representative of the Pakistani monarch. The first Governor-General of Pakistan was Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Pakistani monarchy was created by the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which divided British India into the two independent sovereign states of India and Pakistan.

Liaquat Ali Khan became Pakistan's first Prime Minister on 15th August, 1947. He was shot dead in 1951 by an Afghan while addressing a rally in Rawalpindi. The assassin was shot and killed by the police but the motive for the murder remains a mystery to this day. 

Incidentally, 45 years later, Benazir Bhutto was killed at the exact same spot. After Liaquat Ali Khan's death, former Governor-General Khawaja Nazimuddin was asked to take the top job as Prime Minister. But a year and 182 days later, he was sacked by the Governor-General, on the grounds that he could not contain riots and protests in Lahore and East Pakistan.

Then came Mohammad Ali Bogra, a diplomat, in 1953. He was installed by the Governor- General Ghulam Muhammad. But he tried to curtail the powers of the Governor-General by amending the law which resulted in the Constituent Assembly being dissolved in 1954. There was a legal battle that followed in which the Sindh High Court said the move was illegal, but the Federal Court overturned that, claiming the Constituent Assembly was illegitimate because no constitution had been finalized for six years. Bogra was eventually forced to resign on the 12th of August, 1955.

Under Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, Pakistan got a new constitution on 23rd March 1956 which made it an Islamic republic. In September 1956, however, Chaudhry was asked to resign by the President. Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy became the next Prime Minister. He lasted 13 months as his coalition fell apart. In 1957, former Law Minister Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar became Prime Minister but he didn't even last two months after he tried to modify the electoral college and ended up upsetting his party and allies in the coalition.

After that, Feroz Khan Noon was Prime Minister for a grand total of ten months. Army Chief General Ayub Khan subsequently imposed martial law in October of 1958. General Khan combined the offices of President and Prime Minister becoming both head of state and government. Martial law lasted until 1971. Towards the end of the Bangladesh Liberation War, Nurul Amin was appointed Prime Minister by General Yahya Khan on 6 December, 1971. But after Yahya Khan resigned in the aftermath of Pakistan's defeat and losing East Pakistan, Nurul Amin was asked to leave, having held the post of Prime Minister for just 13 days.

He was sworn in two days later as Pakistan's first and only Vice-President. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was then appointed President in December 1971 and Emergency was imposed. He stated that his aim was to rebuild Pakistan. Under Bhutto, Pakistan's parliament adopted a new constitution in 1973 and Bhutto stepped down as President to become Prime Minister after getting the majority of votes in parliament. He returned to power as Prime Minister after the March 1977 elections, but it was only for a short time. In that year, General Zia-ul-Haq removed Bhutto from office through a coup and declared martial law. Bhutto was hanged in April of 1979 at Central Jail Rawalpindi. His total term as Prime Minister lasted for less than four years.

General Zia ruled Pakistan until his death in a plane crash in 1988. In the 1988 elections that were held after Zia's death, Benazir Bhutto was elected Prime Minister. But her government was sacked by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in August of 1990, who accused her administration of corruption, nepotism and more.

Winning the next election, Nawaz Sharif became the 12th Prime Minister of Pakistan but he too would have a curtailed tenure. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dissolved the National Assembly and appointed an interim PM on 18th April, 1993. Sharif went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor the next month, but he came under pressure from the Army and then resigned from the post in July of 1993.

Benazir Bhutto then returned to power for the second time in 93, in the elections, but President Farooq Leghari, whom she chose, removed her administration in a midnight swoop in November of 96 - again on the grounds of not being able to follow provisions of the constitution.

Nawaz Sharif then returned as Prime Minister after winning the February 97 elections. But less than three years later, Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf conducted a coup and removed Sharif from office in October 1999. Under Musharraf, Pakistan saw three Prime Ministers. Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, Chaudhry  Shujaat Hussain and Shaukat Aziz.

The PPP's Yousaf Raza Gillani became Prime Minister after winning the 2008 general election. It was during his tenure that the parliament withdrew powers given to the President to remove PMs and move these to the judiciary instead. Nine months before his term ended, Gillani was disqualified by Pakistan's Supreme Court in June of 2012 for not writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf completed the remaining term of the PPP government till March of 2013. Nawaz Sharif then came back to power for the third time in the 2013 elections. But again, he was disqualified from office in his last year by the Supreme Court due to his alleged involvement in the Panama Papers offshore accounts case. Sharif resigned in July 2018 and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was elected to be Prime Minister for the rest of the term till May 2018.

After that it was Imran Khan who was elected in the 2018 general election and he has continued the tradition of Pakistani Prime Ministers not completing their full term in office.