Pakistan - Politics
Return of the Army: General Zia ul-Haq
When Bhutto proclaimed his own victory in the March 1977 national elections, the opposition Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) denounced the results as fraudulent and demanded new elections. Bhutto resisted and later arrested the PNA leadership. On 5 July 1977, the military removed Bhutto from power and arrested him, declared martial law, and suspended portions of the 1973 Constitution. Chief of Army Staff General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq became Chief Martial Law Administrator.
General Zia ul-Haq, chief of the army staff, became chief martial law administrator in July 1977 and president in September 1978. He suspended the constitution, with the army's stated objective being to create an environment in which fair elections could be held. However, Bhutto, his primary opponent, was tried and sentenced to death in 1978 on the charge of conspiring to murder a political opponent. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence, and Bhutto was hanged in April 1979.
In 1980, most center and left parties, led by the PPP, formed the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD). The MRD demanded Zia's resignation, an end to martial law, new elections, and restoration of the Constitution as it existed before Zia's takeover. Zia cancelled the elections that had been promised and kept the country under martial law until 1985. During this time, Zia pressed the policy that Pakistan's survival and progress were dependent on building an Islamic state. A number of measures were taken to implement this policy, including the introduction of the Federal Shariat Court. A referendum held in 1984 confirmed Zia's policy of Islamization. In this referendum, a "yes" vote agreeing with Zia's Islamization policy was also to be interpreted as a vote for Zia to remain in office as president for another five years. According to the results reported by the government but contested by the opposition, Zia obtained 98 percent of total votes cast.
Zia's government also adapted Ayub's Basic Democracies structure to institute a new system of local government. Local councils were organized into tiers with union councils at the base, tehsil (subdistrict) councils above them, and zilla (district) councils at the apex. The system also included municipal committees and municipal corporations in the larger metropolitan centers. Councillors were elected for fouryear terms and could stand for reelection. The councils were designed to meet a need for grass-roots expression. Elections were conducted without formal political party affiliation or involvement. The councils were to concentrate on improving local development, including agricultural production, education, health, roads, and water supply.
In 1985 elections were held for both the national and the provincial assemblies, an amended version of the 1973 constitution was reinstated, and martial law was ended. Zia remained president, and the amended constitution, including the controversial Eighth Amendment passed by the National Assembly in November 1985, gave predominant political authority to the president. The president could appoint and dismiss the prime minister and the provincial governors and could dissolve both the national and the provincial assemblies. A significant feature of the 1973 constitution as amended in 1985, insofar as the Islamization process was concerned, was that the Objectives Resolution, adopted by the first Constituent Assembly in 1949 and made a preamble to the 1956, 1962, and 1973 constitutions, was incorporated as a substantive part (Article 2- A) of this restored constitution. The Objectives Resolution provided, in part, that Pakistan would be a state "wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunna."
Political parties were not allowed to participate in the 1985 elections, and the PPP, led by Benazir Bhutto (Zulfiqar's daughter), boycotted them. After the elections, Zia picked Mohammad Khan Junejo, a politician from Sindh and a minister in one of his earlier cabinets, as his prime minister. The Zia-Junejo period lasted three years until Zia dismissed the prime minister and dissolved the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies. Zia cited incompetence, corruption, and failure to further the Islamization process as reasons for his actions. In addition, Zia came to regard Junejo as too independent, and the two men clashed on a number of issues including differences on policy relating to Afghanistan and promotions in the armed services. Zia also announced that new elections would be held.
Zia's sudden death in a airplane crash in August 1988 near Bahawalpur, a town in central Punjab, left Pakistan without a president, prime minister, or national or provincial assemblies. In a demonstration of the country's resilience, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the chairman of the Senate, which had not been dissolved by Zia, and next in the constitutional line of succession, became interim president in December. Elections were held, Benazir became prime minister, and Ishaq Khan was subsequently elected president.
Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto
After winning 93 of the 205 National Assembly seats contested in the election of November 1988, the PPP, under the leadership of Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zlfikar Ali Bhutto, formed a coalition government with several smaller parties, including the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM). The Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI), a multi-party coalition led by the PML and including religious right parties such as the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), won 55 National Assembly seats. In August 1990, President Khan, citing his powers under the eighth amendment to the Constitution, dismissed the Bhutto government.
New elections, held in October 1990, confirmed the political ascendancy of the IJI. In addition to a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, the alliance acquired control of all four provincial parliaments and enjoyed the support of the military and of President Khan. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, as leader of the PML, the most prominent Party in the IJI, was elected prime minister by the National Assembly. The passage into law in May 1991 of a Shari'a bill, providing for widespread Islamization, legitimized the IJI government among much of Pakistani society.
Nawaz Sharif was not able to reconcile the different objectives of the IJI's constituent parties. The largest religious party, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), abandoned the alliance because of its perception of PML hegemony. The regime was weakened further by the military's suppression of the MQM, which had entered into a coalition with the IJI to contain PPP influence and allegations of corruption directed at Nawaz Sharif.
In 1993 a protracted power struggle between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ishaq Khan played out as Pakistan's two leading politicians maneuvered each other out of power. This period of behind-the-scenes struggle was described by a Pakistani daily as a "Silent Revolution" and was watched with some concern by the international community, which feared that Pakistan could once again fall under military rule.
On 18 April 1993, the power struggle seemed to be resolved when President Ishaq Khan, exercising the extraordinary constitutional powers afforded the president by the Eighth Amendment, dismissed the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. For the second time, Ishaq Khan had invoked the Eighth Amendment to bring down an elected government. The charges of corruption and mismanagement of the economy that he leveled against Nawaz Sharif were almost identical to those he had earlier brought against Benazir in 1990. President Ishaq Khan appointed Balakh Sher Mazari, described by the New York Times as heading "a tribal clan of landowners," as caretaker prime minister and announced a new timetable for elections.
On 26 May 1993, the Supreme Court voted that Ishaq Khan's dissolution of the National Assembly and his dismissal of the prime minister were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court's action was a sharp rebuke of Ishaq Khan's heavy-handed exercise of presidential powers and was widely hailed as a victory for the advocates of democratization. Yet, although the Supreme Court was able to reinstate the Nawaz Sharif government, the status quo ante was not restored, and the struggle between the president and the prime minister continued unabated, making the pursuit of regular government workings impossible. Noting the mounting impatience of the Pakistani military with the endless machinations of the country's politicians, the United States and the European Community communicated their concern, warning against a military takeover.
The continuing political crisis in Pakistan came to an abrupt halt when the prime minister and president both resigned after two weeks of intense negotiations among the Nawaz Sharif government, Benazir, and the army. The resolution of the crisis was unique because for the first time in the nation's history a government had voluntarily stepped down in order to avoid a possible military intervention. Interestingly, the negotiations had been mediated by General Waheed, the chief of the army staff. The resultant agreement and its implementation followed strict constitutional procedure. Ishaq Khan was replaced by the chairman of the Senate, Wasim Sajjad, who functioned as acting president until the elections. More important, Moeen Qureshi, a former civil servant and senior World Bank (see Glossary) official, agreed to serve as caretaker prime minister. Qureshi, a Pakistani national, had left the World Bank in 1992, obtained permanent residence status in the United States, and established his own company, Emerging Markets Corporation.
In the October 1993 elections, the PPP won a plurality of seats in the National Assembly, and Benazir Bhutto was asked to form a government. However, because it did not acquire a majority in the National Assembly, the PPP's control of the government depended upon the continued support of numerous independent parties, particularly the PML/J. The unfavorable circumstances surrounding PPP rule, the imperative of preserving a coalition government, the formidable opposition of Nawaz Sharif's PML/N movement, and the insecure provincial administrations, presented significant difficulties for the government of Prime Minister Bhutto.
In November 1996, President Leghari dismissed the Bhutto government, charging it with corruption, mismanagement of the economy, and implication in extrajudicial killings in Karachi. Elections in February 1997 resulted in an overwhelming victory for the PML/Nawaz, and President Leghari called upon Nawaz Sharif to form a government.
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