No one lasts long : The curse of Pakistan PM’s office

Pakistan’s Supreme Court today dismissed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office, ensuring that the trend of no Pakistani prime minister ever completing his five-year tenure in office, continued. Sharif had assumed office on June 5, 2013, and four years and 54 days later, he has been disqualified. Sharif’s term is the third-longest in history for a Pakistani PM.

Pakistan’s first prime minister Liaqat Ali Khan was murdered in Rawalpindi on October 16, 1951. He had assumed charge on August 15, 1947. To date, he is the longest-serving PM of Pakistan.

Khan’s successor Khawaja Nizamuddin was removed from office by Governor General Malik Ghulam Mohammed in two years. The Pakistani Supreme Court had to invoke the doctrine of necessity to justify the governor general’s action after Khawaja Mohammad had approached it for revoking his removal from office.

The doctrine of necessity is a legal term that seeks to justify an action carried out by an extra-constitutional authority to restore order.

A lesser-known Muhammad Ali Bogra took over from Nizamuddin, but he too was dismissed by Ghulam Mohammad in 1954. Later, he was again appointed as PM but he did not enjoy a majority in the Constituent Assembly after the Muslim League had lost elections, therefore Governor General Iskender Mirza dismissed his government in 1955.

Chaudhry Muhammad Ali took office in 1955. He is credited for being one of the key players in making the 1956 Constitution of the country. He resigned from the post later that year, due to the conflicts with the President.

Husain Shaheed Suhrawardy was the leader of Awami League and led the party to a victory in the 1954 elections for Constituent assembly. He was the first person outside the Muslim League to become Prime Minister. He was deposed in 1957, due to differences with President Iskander Mirza.

A slew of PMs followed until the military, under General Ayub Khan, took over and declared martial law in the country in 1958. From 1958-1971, martial law was not lifted, and the post of PM was not reinstated until 1973, when General Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took over.

Bhutto was overthrown in a coup d’etat by General Mohammad Zia Ul Haq in 1977, before Bhutto was hanged in 1979. Since then, Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, which was taken over by his daughter Benazir Bhutto, and the two factions of the Pakistan Muslin League—the Quaid-e-Azam group and the Nawaz group—have had control of the post of PM.

In 1999, during his second term as PM, Sharif was overthrown in a coup d’etat led by General Pervez Musharraf. The country went on to have four PMs in SIX years after 2002 when martial law was lifted.

The PPP’s Yousuf Raza Gilani headed the government elected in 2008 and served for four years and three months, before the Supreme Court dismissed him in a contempt of court case. Gilani is the second longest-serving PM in the country’s history.

Although the PM did not complete his term, the members of parliament did complete their five years in 2013—the first time it happened in Pakistan’s history.

In the elections held in 2013, the PML (Nawaz) won a majority and its leader Sharif became the PM, till he was disqualifIed by the Supreme Court today.

By: ET

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