REPORT OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE
OF THE MARXIST-LENINIST ORGANISATION OF BRITAIN
Marxism-Leninism is the scientific outlook of the
working class, the science of socialism and of its construction by the
working people, the science of socialist revolution. The temporary
victory of revisionism in the international communist movement has given
rise to the widespread circulation of perversions of "Marxism -Leninism"
shorn, in the interests of world imperialism, of its revolutionary content.
Before dealing with the specific revolutionary process in Pakistan, it
seems desirable to us therefore, to restate very briefly the essential
principles of Marxism-Leninism in relation to colonial-type countries in
general, as these principles were developed by the Communist International,
then the International vanguard of the working classes of all countries.
"THE PAKISTANI REVOLUTION"
PART ONE: THE REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS IN COLONIAL
A colonial-type country is one which is industrially
relatively undeveloped and which is under the economic, and possibly also
the political, domination of a Great Power - in the twentieth century
an imperialist power.
A colonial-type country may be:
1) a colony under the open, direct political rule of a dominating
2) a semi-colony, nominally "independent" but with its economic
system largely controlled for the benefit of the ruling class of a dominating
Great Power; or
3) a neo-colony, a former colony which has become nominally
"independent" but which continues to have its economic system largely controlled
for the benefit of the ruling class of the same dominating Great Power
which formenly ruled it directly.
The nominal "ruling class" of a semi-colony or of a neo-colony is
one which is dependent on the ruling class of the dominating Great Power.
The Relation of Classes in a Colonial-Type
Country to The Struggle for National Liberation
Sooner or later a struggle for national liberation
from the domination of the Great Power concerned develops in every colonial-type
In the twentieth century, in general, the classes
in a colonial-type country which would be benefited by national
In the twentieth century, in general, the classes in
a colonial-type country which have interests that could be harmed
by national liberation are:
1) the landlord class, and
1) the working class;
2) the urban petty-bourgeoisie;
3) the peasantry, and
4) the national bourgeoisie - i.e., that section of the capitalist
class the interests of which are held back by the domination of the Great
2) the comprador bourgeoisie, i.e, that section of the capitalist class
the interests of which (mainly commercial and financial) are dependent
upon the domination of the Great Power.
The Necessity of Armed Struggle
Normally, the colonial administration of a Great Power
in the case of a colony, or of the nominal "ruling class" in the case of
a semi-colony or neo-colony, possesses a state machinery of force,
the essential core of which consists of armed men and the purpose of which
is to maintain by force the subjection of the colonial-type country to
the dominating Great Power.
In order to achieve national liberation, therefore
the revolutionary classes must build up their own revolutionary machinery
of force, the spearhead of which must consist of armed men, strong
enough to destroy the anti-national state machinery of force.
Thus, the achievement of national liberation can, normally, be brought
about only by armed struggle.
The social problems of the working class, the poorer
strata of the urban petty bourgeoisie and the poorer strata of the peasantry
cannot be solved by national liberation: these are exploited classes
and, if the revolutionary process in the colonial-type country ceases with
the achievement of national liberation, they continue to be exploited
by the national capitalists and the rich (capitalist) peasants.
The social problems of the working class, the poorer
strata of the urban petty bourgeoisie and the poorer strata of the peasantry
can be solved only by the abolition of exploitation in a socialist society,
and this can only be brought about by a socialist revolution.
The class forces in a colonial type country which
stand to benefit from a socialist revolution are narrower than those which
benefit from national liberation; they are:
1) the working class,
2) the poorer strata of the urban petty bourgeoisie, and
3) the poorer strata of the peasantry.
All other classes, includirig the national bourgeoisie and the rich
(capitalist) peasants have interests which would be harmed by a
The achievement of a socialist revolution requires the leadership
of the poorer strata of the peasantry by the working class.
The Stages of the Revolutionary
Process in a Colonialt i Xpe Country
For the working class, the poorer strata and the urban
petty bourgeoisie and the poorer strata of the peasantry, the primary objective
significance of national liberation is as a preliminary to the socialist
revolution. In a colonial-type country, national liberation is a necessary
strategical preliminary to the socialist revolution because it enables
certain class forces opposed to the socialist revolution to be defeated,
partly or entirely, by a wider coalition of class forces than those which
stand to gain from the socialist revolution. That is, in national liberation
the national bourgeoisie and the rich (capitalist) peasants have an objective
interest in, and so may be enlisted in, the national liberation struggle
against the foreign dominating imperialists and their class allies within
the country: the landlords and pomprador bourgeoisie.
The revolutionary process in a colonial-type country
must, therefore, be fought in two successive 'stages':
1) the stage of national liberation; the stage of national-democratic
revolution - the aims of which are national and democratic and not socialist,
2) the stage of socialist revolution.
It is in the interests of the working class, of the
poorer strata of the urban petty bourgeoisie and of the poorer strata of
the peasantry that there should be the minimum possible time-gap
between the stage of national-democratic revolution and the stage of socialist
revolution. It is, in fact, in the interests of these class forces that
the stage of national-democratic revolution should pass without interruption
into the stage of socialist revolution, without any intervening period
of national capitalism in which exploitation continues.
The uninterrupted transition from the stage of national-democratic
revolution to the stage of socialist revolution can be achieved only if
the leadership of both stages of the revolutionary process is in the
hands of the working class.
This involves a class struggle between the
working class and the national bourgeoisie for the leading role
in the national-democratic revolution. If the working class succeeds in
wresting the leadership of the national-democratic revolution from the
hands of the national bourgeoisie, the latter will inevitably desert the
revolutionary forces and go over to the side of the anti-national forces
- preferring a subordinate role in a colonial-type society to the complete
loss of its "rights" of exploitation in a socialist society.
The Necessity of a Marxist-Leniniist
Party of the Working Class
The working class cannot carry through this revolutionary
strategy spontaneously, It can do so only if it is led by a disciplined
political party based on Marxism-Leninism.
PAKISTAN AS A BRITISH NEO-COLONY
The Origin of Pakistan
The concept of what is now the state of Pakistan appears
to have first been put forward at Cambridge University in January 1933,
when a group of Moslem students, headed by Chaudhuri Rahmat Ali,
proposed in a pamphlet the establishment of a state carved out of those
parts of India in which Moslems were in a majority.
They suggested as the name of this state "Pakstan"
- P (Punjab); A("Afghanistan", i.e. the North-West Frontier Province);
K (Kashmir); S (Sind); TAN (Baluchistan). East Bengal; in which Moslem
were also in a majority, did not figure in this earliest concept, of what
soon came to be called "Pakistan" ("
Land of the Pure").
In December 1906 the Moslem
League had been founded by a group of pro-British landed
aristocrats, headed by the Agha Khan and the Nawab of Dacca.
Its ostensible aim, was to work for the protection of, and advancement
of the Moslems of India. But in reality its primary purpose was to foster
"loyalty" among Moslems to British imperialist rule. At its 27th, conference,
held in Lahore in March 1940, the Moslem League, under the leadership of
Mohammad-Ali Jinnah, adopted
the concept of "Pakistan" (now including East Bengal) as the basis of its
As the principal political organisation of the landlord
and (later) the comprador bourgeois classes in the predominantly Moslem
areas of the Indian sub-continent, classes which depended upon foreign
imperialism for the maintenance of their social position, the Moslem League
was from its foundation objectively an instrument of British
imperialism. And its adoption of Moslem separatism accentuated this
role. It became the most important vehicle in the service of the British
imperialists for splitting the Indion movement for liberation, and Moslem
League ministries were established in then India, for a number of provinces
with the support of the colonial authorities.
The Formation of Pakistan
In August 1947 British colonial rule over the Indian
sub-continent came officially to an end and the latter was divided into
the two Dominions of India and Pakistan.
This partition was carried out, not on any ethnical
basis, but on the basis of the predominant religious victims among the
population. The boundaries were drawn, and the property of the Indian
Empire divided between the two Dominions, in such a way as to create what
was hoped would be a permanent state of tension between them, so strengthening
the possibility of the continued domination of both by British imperialism.
In fact, partition quickly led to mass shifts of population, the persecution
of minorities and wholesale flights of refugees.
As a result of the religious basis of partition,
the new Dominion of Pakistan consisted of two territorial regions in
the west and east of the sub-continent, separated by more than a thousand
miles from each other. West Pakistan is more than five times the size
of East Pakistan (310 thousand square miles against 55 thousand square
miles), but East Pakistan has 8 million (10%) more population than West
Pakistan (now 51 million against 43 million).
The establishment of the Dominion of Pakistan was
preceded by the setting up of a "Constituent Assembly" of 69 members, the
appointment of Jinnah, leader of the Moslem League, as Governor-General;
the appointment of British commanders for Pakistan's armed forces; and
the appointment of a government, headed by Liaqua Ali Khan, all
but one member of which belonged to the Moslem League.
In other words, the formation of the artificial state
of Pakistan consisted essentially of the negotiated transfer of political
power to the pro-imperialist land-owning and comprador bourgeois classes
represented politically by the Moslem League.
This transfer of power was not, of course, purely
voluntary; but neither was it the result of an outright victory of
the national-democratic revolution. The position was that the latter had
developed to the point where the declining strength of British imperialism
was no longer sufficient to enable it to continue to rule the Indian sub-continent
in the old directly colonial way. It had become necessary to replace
direct colonial rule by indirect neo-colonial domination. Sir Stafford
Cripps virtually admitted to this when he told the House of Commons on
March 3th, 1947;
"What, then, were the alternatives which faced us? These alternatives
were fundamentally two. ... First, we could attempt to strengthen British
control in India on the basis of an expanded personnel in the Secretary
of State's office and a considerable reinforcement of British troops. The
second alternative was that we could accept the fact that the first alternative
was not possible, ... We had not the power to carry it out".
The Class Structure of Pakistan
In the early 1950s the class structure of Pakistan was roughly as follows
(the figures include dependents) :
Rich peasant class (rural capitalists)
Urban capitalists (comprador and national)
Urban petty bourgeoisie
Middle peasants (mostly working without wage labour)
Poor peasants (including agricultural workers)
Urban working class
Rich peasant class (rural capitalists)
Urban capitalists (mostly national)
Urban petty bourgeoisie
Poor Peasants (including agricultural workers)
Urban working class
There are significant differences in the class structure of West and
In West Pakistan
(according to the Census of Agriculture published in 1963-4), 63.3 thousand
landlords (representing 1.25% of landholders) own more than 100 acres of
land, owning between them 15.2 million acres of land (31.2% of the privately
owned land). Of these 6.1 thousand of the biggest landlords (representing
0.1% of landholders) own 11.5% of privately owned land. The economic
position of the landlords in the West was strengthened by the fact that,
before partition, many of the rural money, lenders were Hindus and Sikhs;
when these departed, their function was taken over by the landlords.
the East, on the other hand, most of the biggest landowners themselves
were Hindus, who moved into India on partition. Taking advantage of religious
prejudices, the rich peasants were able in 1950 to secure the passing by
the East Pakistan provincial government of the East Pakistan Acquisition
and Tenancy Act which limited the size of landholdings; as a result of
this measure, most of the remaining Hindu landlords left the country and
the excess and vacated land was redistributed, much of it falling into
the hands of the rich peasants. Although many of the Bengali landlords
managed to evade the effect of the Act by gifting part of their land to
nominees before the Act came into effect, the economic power of the landlord
class in East Pakistan is relatively much smaller than in the West.
A further significant difference in the class structure of West and
East Pakistan has been brought about by the more rapid development of capitalist
industry in the West. Of the 1,414 industrial enterprises which Pakistan
inherited, only 314 (22%) were situated in the East, and this picture has
been continued to the present day. The fact that this industrial development
was largely financed by foreign capital quickly led to the formation in
the West of a new comprador industrial capitalist class, largely recruited
at first from businessmen who had emigrated from India.
section of the landlord class in the West fused both with this new comprador
industrial bourgeoisie and with the old commercial /financial comprador
bourgeoisie to create a new comprador ruling class, which after a period
of internal struggle, gained control of the state apparatus, of coercion.
military dictatorship of Ayub Khan was the instrument of this ruling
class, which made use of the state machine to advance to the position of
a powerful state monopoly capitalist class - the notorious "Twenty
Families" who (according to Dr. Mahbubul Huq, chief economist of the
Planning Commission, and M. Raschid, Governor of the State Bank, in 1968)
owned 66% of industry, 79% of insurance and 80% of banking.
The Semi-Colonial Position
of East Pakistan
The control of the state machine by a ruling class having its base in West
Pakistan was assisted by the fact that, under British rule, military officers
and higher civil servants had been drawn principally from landed families
in the West. This process was continued after "independence".
Goodnow, in his study of the Pakistani civil service, says:
"The situation was aggravated by the fact that the central bureaucrats
had been overwhelmingly drawn from West Pakistan."
M.F.Goodnow: "The Civil Service in'Pakistan", New Haven; 1964; p.43),
Colonel Mohammed Ahmed, the biographer of Ayub Khan, agrees :
"Most of the senior officials had come from West Pakistan, feeling
too unhappy to be discreet. They would complain in bitter terms even in
the presence of East Pakistanis, whom they blamed for all the misery and
inconvenience. A thousand-mile gulf already existed geographically between
the people of the two provinces. Temerity and impudence of the West Pakistanis
was widening it emotionally much further.'
(M. Ahmed: "My Chief "; Lahore;1960; p.7-8).
report in the "Sunday Times" of June 13th, 1971, Anthony Mascarenhas declares
that this situation has been greatly accentuated since the full military
occupation of East Pakistan:
"East Bengal can only be kept in Pakistan by the heavy hand of the
army. And the army is dominated by the Punjabis, who traditionally despise
and. dislike the Bengalis. .....
The Government's policy for East Bengal was spelled out to me in the
Eastern Command headquarters at Dacca. it has three elements:
1) the Bengalis have proved themselves 'unreliable' and must be ruled
by West Pakistanis;
2) the Bengalis will have to be re-educated along proper Islamic lines.
The 'Islamisation of the masses' - this is the official jargon - is intended
to eliminate secessionist tendencies and provide a strong religious bond
with West Pakistan;
3) When the Hindus have been eliminated by death and flight, their
property will be used as a golden carrot to win over the under-privileged
Muslim middle-class. ....
Because of the mutiny, it has been officially decreed
that there will not for the present be any further recruitment of Bengalis
in the defence forces. ....
Bengali fighter pilots, among them some of the aces of the Air Force,
had the humiliation of being grounded and moved to non-flying duties. Even
PIA (Pakistan International Airways - Ed.) air crews operating between
the two wings of the country have been strained clean of Bengalis.
The East Pakistan Rifles, once almost exclusively
a Bengali para-military force, has ceased to exist since the mutiny. A
new force, the Civil Defence Force, has been raised by recruiting Biharis
and volunteers from West Pakistan. Biharis, instead of Bengalis, are also
being used as the basic material for the police. They are supervised by
officers sent out from West Pakistan'and by secondment from the army. ....
Hundreds of West Pakistani government civil servants,
doctors, and technicians for the radio, TV, telegraph and telephone services
have already been sent out to East Pakistan. More are being encouraged
to go with the promise of one- and two-step promotions . ....
I was told that all the Commissioners of East
Bengal and the district Deputy Commissioners will in future be either Biharis
or civil officers from West Pakistan....
The Government has also come down hard on the universities
and colleges of East Bengal. They were considered the hot beds of conspiracy
and they are being 'sorted out'. Many professors have fled. Some have been
shot. They will be replaced by fresh recruitment from West Pakistan. ....
Bengali officers are also being weeded out of sensitive
positions in the Civil and Foreign Services."
("Sunday Times", June 13th, 1971; p.12,14).
result of the control of the state machine by a ruling class based in West
Pakistan, state funds were used to develop the economy of the West to a
far greater extent than that of the East. In studying the following official
figures for even the first years of Pakistan's existence, it should be
remembered that the population of East Pakistan is some 19% greater than
that of the West.
Capital Expenditure of Provincial
Governments: (million rupees)
1953-54 ........ ....
SANCTIONED FOR Provincial Governments: (million rupees)
WEST EAST %
("Ten Years of Pakistan: 1947-1957", p.56,58).
the jute exports of East Pakistan provide the principal source of the country's
foreign exchange, West Pakistan has received, on average 70% of the country's
imports. By 1956 economists had calculated that West Pakistan was receiving
an annual tribute from the East of more than 300 million rupees ("Pakistan
Times", February 8th, 1957).
a considerable part of the industry which has developed in East Pakistan
is controlled by, or financed by, West Pakistani capital.
the foundation of Pakistan, East Pakistan has become a market for the manufactured
goods produced in the industrial centres of the West, while its raw materials
have been used primarily to develop Karachi and the Punjab. In other words,
East Pakistan has been in the position of a semi-colony to the dominant
West, as a speaker in the Constituent Assembly expressed it as early
"A feeling is growing among the Eastern Pakistanis that Eastern Pakistan
is being neglected and treated merely as a 'colony' of West Pakistan".
(Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Debates, Volume 2, No.l: February
The Neo-colonial Position
since the foundation of Pakistan, East Pakistan has been in the position
of a semi-colony of West Pakistan, Pakistan as a whole has been in the
position of a neo-colony of foreign imperialism.
In the early years of its existence, until 1953, the country was dominated
politically by a landlord-comprador bourgeois class coalition dependent
upon British imperialism, represented politically by the Moslem League.
During these years Pakistan's economy was dominated by British monopoly
90% of the banking capital was in the hands of British banks, and British
firms controlled more than 80% of Pakistan's imports. The insurance business
was also dominated by British capital. Pakistan's holdings of sterling
in London and the organisation of currency control within the sterling
area, of which Pakistan was a member, restricted the country's opportunities
of developing economic relations with states outside the orbit of British
aim of British imperialism - an aim which was faithfully carried out by
the Moslem League government of Pakistan - was to hold back the industrial
development of the country so that it might continue to be a market for
British manufactured goods and a source of raw materials and super-profits
for the British imperialists.
May 1948 the government of the new Dominion issued a long statement of
its economic programme. It emphasised that this programme would be based
upon private enterprise and foreign capital. It declared that initial emphasis
must be laid on the development of agriculture and of industries based
on agriculture, as well as on the promotion of handicrafts.
February 1950 a British industrial mission headed by Lord Burghley,
director of the National Provincial Bank and the British Overseas Airways
Corporation, toured Pakistan with the declared aim of exploring the possibility
of trade expansion and of assistance by British firms to Pakistan's "economic
development". The mission's report, issued in August of the same year,
recommended that the basic needs of power, water and transport should come
before any intensive industrial growth, stating that of these needs the
expansion of water-power was "vitally urgent" and one which would require
the assistance of British consulting engineers. It recommended that Pakistani
technicians should be trained in Britain, and that British technicians
should assist in the operation of Pakistani industry. Its final recommendations
were that continued publicity should be carried out making clear the Government's
stated policy that no further industries would be nationalised, so encouraging
investment from abroad, that company taxation should be reduced and the
price of Pakistan's exports lowered.
first indication that a section of Pakistan's ruling class was beginning
to look beyond London for its inspiration came when Chowdhury Nazir
Ahmed Khan, Pakistan's Minister of Industries, denounced the mission's
report as "unrealistic", and declared:
"It would be too much for any country to expect that Pakistan would
formulate its industrial policy to suit that country's interests or
officially designated as a measure "to combat Communism", the "Colombo
Plan for Co-operative Economic Development in South and South-East Asia",
announced in November 1950, was evolved by the British imperialists primarily
to compete with the "Point Four" programme of "aid" to underdeveloped countries
being brought into being by the US imperialists. The plan was a programme
for the "economic development" of Pakistan, India, Ceylon, Malaya and British
Borneo costing Pounds Sterling PS 1,868 million over six years. Of this
sum, PS 840 million was to be provided directly by the countries being
"assisted", PS 246 million from their sterling balances held in London,
PS 700 million from "external sources" (mostly, it was hoped, from the
USA) and only PS 60 million from Britain.
in fact, the United States imperialists did "assist" the Colombo Plan,
by incorporating it in their own "aid" programme. By the fourth meeting
of the Colombo Plan countries at Ottawa in October 1954, the original seven
participating countries had increased to seventeen by the addition of the
USA, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Nepal, South Vietnam, Catnbodia
and Laos. Even the meagre "aid" programme embodied in the Colombo Plan
had proved beyond the enfeebled capacity of British imperialism.
The Formation of National
policy of the neo-colonial Moslem League regime proved extremely frustrating
to Pakistan's national capitalists in both East and West, but particularly
in the former. From 1950 on, parties representing the interests of
these national capitalists began to appear, parties making their appeal
to the peasants, to the urban petty bourgeoisie and to the working class.
March 1950 there was formed in East Pakistan the Awami
(People's) Moslem League, led by Husain
Shahid Suhrawardy, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and peasant leader
Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani
afterwards the Azad (Free) Pakistan Party
appeared in West Pakistan under the leadership of Mian
Iftikharuddin owner of Progressive Papers Ltd., which controlled
a chain of newspapers and journals, including the leading English language
newspaper "Pakistan Times".
January 1953 the formation of the Ganatantri
Dal (Democratic Party) in the East was followed, also in
the East, by the revival of the Krishak Sramik
(Peasant /Worker) Party, headed by Fazlul
Huq in September of the same year.
in September 1953, the Awami Moslem League dropped the religious adjective
from its name to become the Awami League.
In 1948 the Communist Party
of India had split itself into the Communist
Party of India and the Communist
Party of Pakistan, with Sajjad
Zaheer as its first General Secretary. It represented at
this time the interests of the working class. In West Pakistan it was forced
to go underground after the Rawalpindi "conspiracy" case in 1951; in East
Pakistan it was underground from the foundation of Pakistan until November
1953, when it was able to hold its first public meeting. It correctly combined
this underground activity with open fractional work within the national
-democratic parties, mainly the Awami League and Ganatantri Dal in the
East, and the Azad Pakistan Party in the West.
with the potential threat of national-democratic opposition, the government
took steps both to centralise economic control and to arm itself with
Centralisation and Repression
In July 1948 a State Bank was set up to coordinate
financial control of the economy, and in the same month Governor-General
Jinnah granted himself special powers by which he could
instruct the Governor of a province to take direct control of the provincial
administration "in case of emergency". It is interesting to note that this
latter step was carried out under Section 92 of the Government of India
Act passed in 1935 by the British Conservative Government.
September 1948 the government set up a Central Engineering Authority to
coordinate public works activities in the provinces, particularly the development
of electric power.
"The main sufferers under PRODA were politicians who had incurred
In December 1948 the right to grant oil and mineral concessions
was transferred from the provincial governments tb the central government.
In January 1949 the Constituent Assembly passed the Public and Representative
Offices Disqualification Act (PRODA), retrospectively to 1947, empowering
the Governor-General to debar from public life for up to ten years anyone
found guilty by a court or tribunal of any abuse of his official position.
As Keith Callard points out:
displeasure of the central government."
(K.Callard: "Pakistan: A Political Study"; London-, 1957; p.103).
1949 the government promulgated the Public Safety Ordinance, giving
itself wide powers of detention without trial, restriction of movement,
censorship of newspapers and periodicals, and control of "subversive bodies".
In November 1950 it was announced that an Industrial Development Corporation
would be set up, with a capital of 40 million rupees, for the development
of the jute, paper, engineering and chemical industry. The Minister of
Industries, in making this announcement, emphasised that foreign capital
and foreign "aid" would be welcomed.
In March 1951 Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan
announced that a "communist conspiracy" had been uncovered in the army.
A number of army officers (headed by Major-General Akbar Khan Chief
of the General Staff), Faiz Ahmed Faiz (editor of the "Pakistan
Times") and Saijad Zaheer (General Secretary of the Communist Party),
were arrested, tried secretly by special tribunals, and sentenced to terms
Political Struggle within
the Ruling Class
as mid-948 the British intelligence service was reporting to London that
an influential section of the landlord and comprador-bourgeois classes
in West Pakistan was beginning to look for support away from Britain, with
its declining economic and military strength, towards the United States,
which had emerged from the Second World War as by far the strongest imperialist
power in the world. Accordingly, the British imperialists turned their
special attention towards the weaker Bengali landlords as a social base
for their continued domination of Pakistan. The Bengali landlords were
headed by Cambridge educated Khwaja Nazimuddin,
knighted for his services to the British Raj.
September 1948 Jinnah died, and the Bengali landlords, backed by British
imperialism, succeeded in elevating Khwaja Nazimuddin to the vacant post
of Governor-General. The new Governor-General, in his turn, nominated another
Bengali landlord, Nurul Amin,
to succeed him as Chief Minister of East Bengal.
In September 1950 - in which month Major-General
Mohammad Ayub Khan was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the
Pakistan army in succession to General Sir Douglas Gracey -- the Basic
Principles Committee (appointed in March 1949 to prepare the basis
of a Constitution for Pakistan) presented its interim report. Dominated
by the "Karachi" landlord/comprador bourgeois
clique, the Committee proposed that the country should have,
a parliamentary system of government with two Houses, each having equal
powers: the lower "House of the People" would be directly elected on the
basis of population, while the upper "House of Units" would be elected
indirectly by provincial legislatures on the basis of an equal number of
members from each province.
With West Pakistan divided into a number of provinces, and the East made
up of a single province, a constitution on this basis would have rendered
the pro-British Bengali landlord clique virtually impotent. The Committee's
recommendation that Urdu (one
of the languages of West Pakistan spoken, according to the 1951 Census,
by only 3.3% of the population of the country) should be the official language
of Pakistan caused particular indignation in East Bengal.
March 1950 the Moslem League in the Punjab - dominated by the powerful
Punjabi landlords, headed by Mian Mumtaz Daultana
- gained a sweeping victory in the Punjab provincial elections, winning
143 seats out of 194. The "Punjabi" clique,
as it came to be known, thus assumed an influential role in the ruling
party, and it too was turning towards U.S. imperialism.
Thus, by 1950 three rival groups had come into being within the ruling
class of Pakistan:
1) the pro-British "Bengali" clique of Eastern landlords and comprador
2) the pro-U.S. "Punjabi" clique of Western landlords, and
3) the pro-U,S. "Karachi" clique of Western landlords and
1951 Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated. In his hands
the office of Prime Minister had, since the death of Jinnah, acquired particular
influence, and on the following day Governor-General Khwaja Nazimuddin
appointed himself Prime Minister, and then resigned as Governor-General,
The "Karachi" clique successfully replied to this move by securing the
appointment of its nominee, Ghulam Mohammad,
to the vacant post of Governor-General.
financial/ commercial /industrial comprador bourgeoisie.
strengthen its position against the constitutional proposals put forward
by the Basic Principles Committee, the "Bengali" clique sought and won
the support of the orthodox mullahs (the Moslem priesthood) to assist
it by organising a campaign to the effect that the proposals were "insufficiently
Islamic" in content.
October 1952 the Council of the Moslem League met in Dacca. Here
the "Bengali" clique were successful in securing, the adoption of an amendment
to the constitution of the League, by which East and West Pakistan would
in future have parity of seats on the Council of the League. With West
Pakistan divided into several provinces, this effectively enabled the "Bengali"
clique to dominate the Moslem League for the time being.
December 1952 a revised report on the basic principles of the State
Constitution was presented to the Constituent Assembly by Prime Minister
Khwaja Nazimuddin. It pandered to the conservative mullahs who had assisted
in the fight against the 1950 report by declaring that the Head of State
must be a Moslem, who would appoint a board of persons versed in Islamic
law to advise on legislation. But its most important proposal was to introduce
into the State Constitution the principle which had been incorporated in
the constitution of the Moslem League three months earlier, namely, that
both the upper and lower Houses would have parity of representation
between East and West Pakistan. To weaken the position of the Western
cliques still more, it was proposed that West Pakistan should be further
sub-divided. Although the decision on an official language was left to
the Constituent Assembly, this report represented a significant victory
for the pro-British "Bengali" clique.
the "Punjabi" and the "Karachi" cliques naturally found these constitutional
proposals unacceptable, and sought to use against them the same weapon
which the "Bengali" clique had used against the 1950 report - that of religious
fanaticism. They secured the support of the influential organisation
of the orthodox mullahs, the Jamaitul-Ulema-e-Islami,
to stir up the backward masses against both the report and the government
which had presented them, claiming that the new proposals were still "insufficiently
Islamic" in content. In the Punjab, violent progroms were organised against
a Moslem minority sect, the Ahmadyas, and in March 1953 the
Governor-General imposed Martial Law on the province.
By April the "Karachi" clique
judged that the position of the Khwaja Nazimuddin govemment had been sufficiently
weakened, and on April 17th 1953, Governor- General Ghulam Mohammad arbitrarily
dismissed it from office.
PART THREE: PAKISTAN AS A
SEMI-COLONY OF U.S. IMPERIALISM
FIRST PHASE: THE PARLIAMENTARY
Pakistan Moves into the Orbit
of U,.S. Imperialism
coup of April 1953 represented a victory of the "Karachi" landlo.rd/ comprador
bourgeois clique and a defeat of the Bengal landlord /comprador bourgeois
clique. But it represented also a victory for U.S. imperialism in relation
to Pakistan and a defeat for British imperialism.
pro-British Khwaja Nazimuddin was replaced as Prime Minister by a figure
who had the confidence of the United States imperialists, the Ambassador
to Washington, Mohammad Ali of Bogra.
May 1953 Secretary of State John Foster Dulles
and Director of the Mutual Security Agency Harold
E. Stassen paid an official visit to Pakistan, and in the
following month the U.S. government made a gift to the government of Pakistan
of 700,000 tons of surplus American wheat. In November 1953 Pakistan's
Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad met President
Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles in Washington.
-to the 1953 coup Pakistan had signed, in February 1951, an agreement with
the United States for technical assistance under the "Point Four" programme.
But after the coup U.S. "aid" began to flow in considerable quantities.
As an article in "Pakistan Today" expresses it:
"In 1953 the U.S. made a dramatic entry into Pakistan politics. It
was not until that year that the U.S. had provided any substantial aid
(Khusro: "The Burden of U.S. Aid", in: "Pakistan Today"; autumn 1961;
The following table shows the increasing amount of U.S. "aid" to Pakistan
(in millions of dollars).
The sharp increase in 1959 followed
the establishment of the Ayub Khan military dictatorship in October
The following table shows the total of foreign "aid" received by Pakistan
in 1951-1960 (in millions of dollars)
FOREIGN AID TO PAKISTAN 1951-1960
US government ..........................1,238.4
Ford Foundation (USA).................... 9.4
World Bank.................................. 151.0
EXPRESSED IN TERMS OF DOMINATED INTERESTS:
US controlled "Aid"...................... 1,528.2
period 98% of total foreign "aid" received by Pakistan came from US-controlled
United Kingdom govt......................... 3.2
Commonwealth govts....................... 34.0
Other governments............................. 0.6
$ million 1,566.0
The price of this US "aid" was, of course, Pakistan's incorporation into
the US-dominated system of alliances.
February 1954 Prime Minister Mohammad Ali announced that the Pakistan
government had requested military assistance from the United States.
When President Eisenhower was pleased to accept the request a few days
later, Mohammad Ali declared:
"Pakistan today enters what promises to be a glorious chapter in our
1954 a US military mission arrived in Pakistan. In April 1954 Pakistan
moved into the orbit of US imperialism by signing a treaty of "political
economic, military and cultural" co-operation with Turkey,
which had joined the North Atlantic Treaty
Organisation in February 1952. In July 1955 Pakistan adhered
to the Turkey-Iraq "Defence Pact", then known as the "Baghdad
Pact" but transformed in August 1959 into the Central
Treaty Organisation (CENTO). In May 1954 a "Mutual
Defence Assistance Agreement" was signed between
Pakistan and the United States. As an article in "Pakistan Today" commented:
"As far as the US is concerned, it does no more than state that it
will make such military aid available to Pakistan as 'the Government of
the US may authorise' - i.e., there is no specific obligation at all on
the US. On the other hand, the agreement imposes on the Government of Pakistan
a series of specified obligations. Most of these provisions are in the
nature of an undertaking by the Government of Pakistan to follow in the
wake of US policies, especially in the event of hostilities. The agreement
also imposes on the Pakistan Government the obligation to receive US Government
personnel and to give them every facility to observe what is being done
with the aid that is furnished. This means that, in the case of military
aid, the US observers have the right of direct access to the Pakistan army."
(Khusro: "The Burden of US Aid", in: "Pakistan Today", autumn 1961;
1954 Pakistan adhered to the US-dominated South-East
Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) . As the US Consul-General
in Lahore said in October 1955:
"Pakistan represents to us Americans a new Land of Promise".
The First "Five Year Plan"
change of "masters" did not alter the basic colonial-type pattern of the
first "Five Year Plan" was launched under Prime Minister Chaudhri Mohammad
Ali in 1955. Three years and three governments later, Prime
Minister Malik Firoz Khan Noon was saying:
"I was staggered to learn that until a few day's ago the Five-Year
had not even been authenticated by the Government for publication.
With hardly two more years to go, the Plan continues to be regarded as
routine departmental file, meant only for recording of prolific notes and
cross-notes. Even a properly co-ordinated machinery for the implementation
of the Plan has not yet been evolved."
(Malik Firoz Khan Noon: Reply to an address at the foundation-stone
laying ceremony at a power plant in Multan, April 24th, 1958).
The basis of the Plan, such as it was, was, of course,
main purpose of the Plan was not to speed industrialisation, but to
slow it down, by making allocations in such a way as to lay "special
emphasis" on agriculture, on the pretext that, before the Plan, industry
had been developing too rapidly in relation to agriculture:
"In the past the interests of agriculture had been sacrificed at the
"Despite this dismal record, the accent of the First Five Year Plan
was still on private enterprise".
(Mushtaq Ahmad: "Government and Politics in Pakistan"; Karachi; 1963:
By putting agriculture in the centre of the programme the balance,
formerly tilted too heavily in favour of industry, was sought to be redressed......
All that the Plan did was to catalogue the projects in the public and
private sector and to determine the allocations with special emphasis on
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid., p.61, 214),
"In Pakistan a steady move away from industrialisation policy has taken
place. The First Five Year Plan stepped down industrial investment under
the excuse of 'consolidating' the development which had already taken place."
Plan's one progressive feature - a scheme for land reform in West Pakistan
- was shelved by the Subrawardy government
(1956-57) and abandoned by the Noon government (1957-58):
"To appease the Republican partners in the Government, he (i.e., Prime
Minister Suhrawardy - Ed.) agreed to shelve the proposal for land reform,
which was the redeeming feature of the Plan. ...
(Khusro: "The Burden of US Aid", in: "Pakistan Today", autumn 1961;
Land reforms which were considered basic to the entire Plan and which
under Republican pressure were shelved during Mr. Suhrawardy's tenure,
were totally abandoned (by the Noon government - Ed.) ...
A vital limb of the Plan was thus amputated. Malik Firoz Khan (Noon
- Ed.) was the first Prime Minister to justify the existence of landlordism
as a stabilising force in society."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid.-, p,72, 79).
the planned targets for the development of public works in connection with
agriculture were however, reached only in a minority of cases:
"Major irrigation and power projects were behind schedule. .... Only
50%. of the irrigation projects were attained in West Pakistan and 33%
in East Pakistan, even though the expenditure in all cases was in excess
of the original estimates."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid.; p.214).
The Plan was based, in the words of Mushtaq Ahmad, on a
"Gross overestimation of resources, both internal and external."
(Mushtaq Abmad: ibid.; p.70).
the fiscal Policy of successive governments was based predominantly on
indirect taxation, which fell most heavily on the poorer strata of the
population, while the rich were successful in evading much of the relatively
modest taxes imposed upon them, with the aid of corrupt tax officials:
"The fiscal policy was still wedded to indirect methods of taxation,
whose incidence was inevitably borne by the common people. The rich still
made a disproportionately small contribution to the Exchequer, and even
where the rate of taxation was made heavier, there was no proportionate
increase in the yield. Evasion of taxes was a common practice which the
Ministry of Finance and the Central Board of Revenue did nothing to check,
nor were steps taken to eradicate corruption from the Income Tax and Customs
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid. p.79).
result of the overestimation of resources and the fiscal policy, the Plan
was financed to a great extent by inflationary method i.e., by the printing
of new money:
"The gross overestimation of resources, both internal and external,
had driven the previous government (ie, the Chaudhri
Mohammad Ali government - Ed.) to rely increasingly on methods
of inflationary finance, as was evidenced in the increase in money supply.
The projects had, therefore, to be financed out of State borrowing
from the banks, leading to a further addition .... in the money supply.
The dreadful economic and social implications of uncontrolled inflation
were ignored by the National Economic Council ..... .
(As a result of the fiscal policy - Ed.) the inflationary trends were
consequently accentuated. .....
The operations of the free market led to an unprecedented rise in prices."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid,-. p.70,71,79, 214).
money in circulation rose, in fact, by 654.9 million rupees in 1955-56,
and by 454.0 million rupees in 1956-57. (State Bank Annual Report, 1956-57;
By the time of the Suhrawardy government (1956-57) it became necessary
to scale down the modest targets of the original Plan, while the
Noon government (1967-58) , scaled them down still further, without altering
the basis of the Plan:
The 1954 Provincial Elections
in East Bengal
effort to increase the influence of the Awami Moslem League - and so of
the national bourgeoisie of East Bengal, whose interests this political
party represented - beyond the eastern province, its leader Suhrawardy
had, towards the end of 1952, organised a conference in Lahore together
with dissident groups (mainly of landlords) in other provinces. This conference
set up what was intended to be an all-Pakistan party, the Jinnah
Awami Moslem League, as a loose confederation, But the difference
of class interests represented in it caused it to collapse in the following
"All that was done during his (i.e., Suhrawardy's - Ed.) regime was
the reduction of the targets. ...
The (Noon - Ed.) Government scaled down the size of the development
programme from Rs. 1,160 crores (i.e., 11,600 million rupees - Ed.) as
originally stipulated, to 1,080 crores (i.e., 10,800 million rupees - Ed.),
affecting both the private and public sectors. The 'realistic appraisal'
of the resources was, however, not accompanied by an equally realistic
reassessment of the use to which these resources were to be put, the new
version of the Plan 'retaining all the distinctive features' of its original."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid.; p.78).
The national bourgeoisie
of East Bengal then turned their attention, as a first step, to winning
control of the provincial legislature. The report of the Basic Principles
Committee of September 1950 had angered public opinion in the province
and as a result the Awami League (as it was renamed in September 1953)
experienced a great increase in its support. This enabled it to form a
"United Front" with two smaller
parties - the Krishak Sramik Party and the
Nizam-eIslam (Islamic Order) Party. The Communist Party
gave the United Front its support.
of the United Front, in the drafting of which the Awami League, as the
strongest party in the coalition, played the leading role, was embodied
in a 21-point Charter the main points of which were:
this Charter, the United Front organised a large-scale campaign for the
holding of provincial elections in East Bengal. The central
govetnment finally agreed to this demand, in the hope that the influence
of the "Bengali" landlord /comprador bourgeois clique would be reduced
as a result of their expected losses insuch an election.
a) complete autonomy for East Bengal in all matters except defence,
foreign affairs and currency;
b) recognition of Bengali as a second official language on equal terms
c) consultation between East Bengal and the Centre on the allocation
of foreign exchange,
d) dissolution of the existing Constituent Assembly and its replacement
by a directly elected body;
e) repeal of repressive legislation.
provincial elections took place in March 1954, and resulted in the rout
of the Moslem League which won only 10 seats, in a House of 310.
Ex-Chief Minister Nurul Amin was defeated by an 18-year-old student with
a majority of more than 7,000, and many of the Moslem League candidates
lost their deposits.
United Front won 223 seats out of 310, while the Communist Party gained
4 of the 10 seats it contested, another 23 members of the Communist Party
were elected as candidates representing other parties.
central government's plan to weaken the political influence of the "Bengali"
landlord /comprador bourgeois clique had succeeded - but at the cost of
bringing into the East Pakistan legislative assembly a majority representing
the interests of the national bourgeoisie of that province. Prime
Minister Mohammad Ali made haste to declare that the provincial
election results would in no way affect the composition of the central
April 1954 the leader of the Krishak Sramik Party, Fazlul Huq, was
invited to form a provincial government, but the central government
took immediate steps to bring about its removal. Almost at once violent
fighting, in which several hundred people were killed, began between Bengali
and non-Bengali workers in plantations and factories, and, according to
the "Pakistan Times", was without any doubt brought about by agents-provocateurs
in the pay of the central government.
On May 30th, therefore, the
Governor-General imposed Governor's Rule over the province. on the pretext
that an "emergency", which the provincial government had been unable
to prevent, threatened the security of East Bengal. Major-General
Iskander Mirza Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence,
and a firm supporter of the "Karachi" landlord /comprador bourgeois clique,
was flown into Dacca and sworn in as the new Governor of East Bengal. The
leaders of the Awami League were arrested, ex-Chief Minister Fazlul Huq
was placed under house arrest, and Suhrawardy prudently went abroad for
June all political meetings were prohibited in East Bengal, and in July
the Communist Party was banned, first in East Bengal, then throughout the
country. By July 17th, it was officially stated, 1,292 people had been
The Coup of October 1954
after the chastening rout of the Moslem League in East Bengal, the Moslem
League parliamentary party adopted the so-called "language
formula", under which Bengali would have equal status with
Urdu as an official language. In June the Constituent Assembly endorsed
the "language formula".
On September 21st, 1954, the "Bengali" clique, which was still represented
in the central Constituent Assembly by the group headed by Khwaja Nazimuddin,staged
a parliamentary coup against the pro-US "Karachi" group. With the
cooporation of the Speaker, Tamizuddin Khan,
a member of the "Bengali" clique, they arranged for the Assembly to meet
an hour earlier than normal, the necessary papers being delivered to Constituent
Assembly members outside the group by hand during the night. Then, in a
lightning 10 minute session in which only 40 out of the 80 members of the
Constituent Assembly were present, they repealed PRODA (used as
an instrument of coercion against them by the "Karachi "clique) and adopted
an amendment to the Government of India Act, 1935, depriving the Governor-General
of his power to dismiss a government at will.
"Karachi" clique sought to fight back by taking advantage of the contradictions
between the Bengali national capitalists, and the Bengali landlord/comprador
bourgeois class - the "Bengali" clique represented in the Constituent Assembly
by the Nazimuddin group.
The Governor-General approached Suhrawardy, the leader of the Awami League,
suggesting that the latter would benefit by, and should support, action
by the Governor-General to dissolve the Constituent Assembly and arrange
for the election of a new, more representative one by the provincial legislative
assemblies, since this would mean that the seats in the Constituent Assembly
allotted to East Bengal would be occupied predominantly by representatives
of the Awami League. Suhrawardy agreed, and issued a statement to this
effect from his Zurich hospital.
of this support, the "Karachi" clique acted quickly. On October 24th, 1954
the Governor-General declared a state of emergency and dissolved the
Constituent Assembly. He then instructed Prime Minister Mohammad Ali
to reconstruct his government by bringing in a number of new Ministers
who had not been elected to the Constituent Assembly, the most important
of these being Major-General Mirza as
Minister of the Interior, General Mohammad
Ayub Khan (Commander -in-Chief of the army) as Minister
of Defence, and Dr. Khan Sahib,
an Independent, as Minister of Communications.
As Mushtaq Ahmad says:
"From 24th October 1954, to 7th July 1955, when the new Constituent
Assembly was convened, he (i.e., Prime Minister Mohammad Ali - Ed.)
continued to head a government which could only be described as the
(Mushtaq Ahmed-, "Government and Politics in Pakistan"; Karachi, 1963;
The Speaker of the old Constituent Assembly,
Tamizuddin Khan, challenged the constitutional legality of the Governor-General's
action in the courts, and a long legal wrangle ensued. It was ended only
in May 1955, when the Federal Court ruled that the action was 'valid',
but that the law required the election of a new 'Comtituent Assembly.
Splitting the United Front
winning the support of the Awami League leadership for its coup of October
1954, the "Karachi" clique turned its attention to splitting the United
Front in East Bengal, offering to the two other parties in the coalition
- the Krishak Sramik Party and the Nizam-e-Islam Party - the opportunity
to be invited to form a provincial government in East Bengal if they would
break with the Awami League.
The offer was accepted,
and in February 1955 these two parties severed their association with the
Awami League, but continued the link between themselves under the name
of the "United Front".
In June 1955 the Governor-General
revoked Governor's rule over East Pakistan (as the province
of East Bengal was officially renamed in March 1955), and Abu
Hussain Sarkar of the Krishak Sramik Party, was invited
to form a United Front provincial government - with the Awami League in
autumn of 1964 the "Punjabi" landlord clique began to campaign for the
fusion of the various provinces of West Pakistan into a single administrative
unit - the so-called "One Unit" scheme. This would have increased the
political power of West Pakistan in relation to East Pakistan, and would,
without modifications, have made the "Punjabi" landlord clique the strongest
political force in West Pakistan.
The "Karachi" clique now
offered a deal to the "Punjabi" clique under which the former would
support the "One Unit" scheme, provided the latter would agree:
a) to the limitation of Punjab representation in the West Pakistan
first two of these concessions were, of course, designed to strengthen
the political position of the "Karachi" clique in relation to the "Punjabi"
clique, the third concession was to be one of the points of a deal to be
offered to the leadership of the Awami League. The deal was concluded.
In November 1964 Prime Minister Mohammad Ali announced that the
government intended to put "One Unit" into force. In December the Punjab
provincial assembly adopted a "self-sacrificing" resolution to limit its
representation in the new West Pakistan provincial assembly to 40% of the
seats (on a population basis, the Punjab would have been entitled to 56%),
and the government announced that Karachi, hitherto a Federal area, would
be incorporated in the new united province of West Pakistan.
b) not to oppose the incorporation of Karachi, the capital, in West
c) not to oppose the establishment of joint electoral rolls throughout
the "Karachi" clique had been offering a deal to the leaders of the
Awami League. The basis of this was that if Suhrawardy would enter
the government and work in support of "One Unit", the "Karachi" clique
would arrange for the Awami League to participate in a coalition government
at the Centre, with Suhrawardy as Prime Minister, and would see that joint
electoral rolls were established throughout the country.
question of joint electoral rolls or separate religious rolls was an important
one for the national capitalists of East Pakistan. Unlike the West, the
East contained a large, nine million Hindu minority, comprising 18.4% of
the population. This minority could exert a much stronger political influence
on the basis of separate representation for Hindus than if Hindus voted
alongside the Moslem majority in each electorate.
Thus, in return for supporting "One Unit" within the government (a concession
which would weaken the position of the national bourgeoisie of East Pakistan,
the interests of which the Awami League represented) the leaders of the
Awami League were offered two actions (participation in the government
and joint electorates) which would appear to strengthen the position of
the national bourgeoisie of East Pakistan.
The deal was accepted, and in December 1954 Suhrawardy
entered the "Governor's Council" as Minister of Law, in which capacity
he played the leading role in drafting the legislation for "One Unit".
Federal Court having in May 1955 resolved the "Tamizuddin Khan Case"
in favour of the Governor-General, a new Constituent Assembly was indirectly
elected in June by the provincial assemblies on the basis of 40 members
each from West and East Pakistan.
The Role of Mirza
1955 Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad
was granted leave of absence for health reasons, and another nominee
of the "Karachi" clique, Major General Iskander
Mirza, was elevated from the position of Minister, of the
Interior to that of Acting Governor-General. In the following month Mirza
became Governor -General.
The representation of the three main parties/party groups in
the new Constituent Assembly was now as follows:
Moslem League . ...... 33
United Front .. .......... 16
Awami League ........ . 13
Other parties/groups ... 18
no party/party group held a majority in the Constituent Assembly, the only
possible government which could command the confidence of the Assembly
would be a coalition government. This placed the "Karachi" clique
in a strong political position, since its nominee, Mirza, held the
position of Governor-General (later President), at whose behest governments
could be formed and dismissed. Mirza had, before his appointment as Governor-General,
openly expressed his contempt for "parliamentary democracy", and he
used his powers astutely to discredit it, as well as the -various political
2arties, in order to prepare the ground for the establishment of a military
dictatorship on behalf of the "Karachi" clique:
"After he got himself elected, the sanctity of the Constitution was
violated by more subtle and devious means of keeping the governments in
office at his suffrance through a skilful manipulation of parliamentary
support. In the making and unmaking of Ministries, his hand was throughout
His dictatorial leanings were not revealed for the first time in office,
but were known long before he was elected to it. As Governor of East Pakistan
and Minister of the Interior he had given public expression to his contempt
(Mushtaq Ahmad: "Government and Politics in Pakistan"; Karachi, 1963;
"The view is held that he deliberately set out to discredit and destroy
parliamentary democracy so that he could establish a lifelong dictatorship.
This appears to be a harsh view, but it could be said with greater justice
that he contributed more than anyone else to the creation of those conditions
of political confusion which he used as an argument in support of the alleged
failure of the Constitution and his action in abrogating it." (Ex-Prime
Minister Chaudhri Mohammad Ali: Report of the Constitution Committee, 1962,
in: Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid.; p.40-41).
"The President had thoroughly exploited the weaknesses in the Constitution
and had got everyone connected with the political life of the country utterly
exposed and discredited. I do not think he ever wanted to hold general
elections; he was looking for a suitable opportunity to abrogate the Constitution.
Indeed, he was setting the stage for it."
(Mohammad Ayult Khan: "Friends not Masters: A Political Autobiography";
London 1967; p.56-57).
The 1956 Constitution
1955, as Mirza took up the post of Governor-General on behalf of the "Karachi"
clique, the "Punjabi" landlord clique struck back. As a result of this
clique's domination of the Moslem League parliamentary party since the
eclipse of the "Bengali" clique, this body elected a nominee of the clique,
Chaudhri Mohammad Ali, as
leader of the party in place of Prime Minister
Mohammad Ali, the nominee of the "Karachi" clique. This
forced Mohammad Ali to resign as Prime Minister. The "Punjabi" clique now
sought to counter the deal made between the "Karachi" clique and the Awami
League by making a deal with the United Front. The leaders of the latter
the United Front would drop its demand for complete provincial autonomy
for East Pakistan.
a) participation in a coalition government at the Centre;
b) a Constitution that would give East Pakistan parity of representation
in the National Assembly with West Pakistan and would give Bengali the
status of an official language on equal terms with Urdu, and
c) the establishment of a National Economic Council having for its
declared policy the maintenance of uniform standards of development in
all parts of the country.
The deal was accepted, and Chaudhri Mohammad Ali proceeded to form a government
consisting of 5 Ministers from the Moslem League, 5 from the United Front,
and 1 Independent - Dr. Khan Sahib. Significantly General
Mohammad Ayub Khan, the nominee of the "Karachi" clique,
was omitted from the government.
In September 1955 the new Constituent Assembly, meeting at Murree, a hill
town in the Punjab, adopted the "One Unit" scheme for West Pakistan,
which formally came into being in October.
In January 1956, in accordance with the agreement between the "Karachi"
clique and the United Front, a National Economic Council was set
up with the declared policy already agreed upon.
In February 1956 the Constituent Assembly approved the Constitution
Bill. Pakistan was tn be a Federal
Republic, to be called "The Islamic Republic of Pakistan";
its President, who was required to be a Moslem, was to be elected for a
term of five years by an electoral college consisting of the National Assembly
and the provincial legislative assemblies. The President was named as supreme
commander of the armed forces and was to be given wide powers "in case
of emergency". The Bill provided for a single National Assembly of 300
members, drawn in equal numbers from East and West Pakistan, to be directly
elected for five years on the basis of adult suffrage. Urdu and Bengali
would have equal status as official languages.
During the Third Reading of the Bill members representing the Awami League
and the Pakistan National Congress walked out of the Assembly in protest
against the Islamic provisions in the Constitution and the failure to give
full provincial autonomy to East Pakistan.
In March the National Assembly (as the Constituent Assembly was now called)
elected Major-General Mirza as President
of the Republic and resolved that Pakistan would remain within the Commonwealth.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan formally came into existence on March
The Creation of the Republican
replacement of the nominee of the "Karachi" clique as leader of the Moslem
League and Prime Minister by the nominee of the " Punjabi" clique in August
1955 made it clear that, if the "Karachi" clique was to achieve complete
political power, the Moslem League had to be destroyed - at least in its
existing form as a political party representing the interests of the "Punjabi"
The arena chosen for this operation was the new, "One Unit" province of
April 1955 Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad
had designated, on behalf of the "Karachi" clique Mushtaq
Ahmad Gurmani as Governor of the new province, and Dr.
Khan Sahib as Chief Minister.
In January 1956, however, indirect elections were held for the new West
Pakistan legislative assembly, with the former provincial assemblies acting
as electoral colleges. Following these elections, a Moslem League parliamentary
group for the provincial assembly was formed, which claimed 245 members
out of a House of 310. In April this parliamentary group threw down
a challenge to the "Karachi" clique by adopting a resolution to, the
effect that only a member of the Moslem League would be acceptable as Chief
Minister (Khan Sahib being an Independent). The "Karachi" cliqu'e
were prepared for the challenge.
"The organisation of the Republican Party to keep Dr. Khan Sahib in
Two days later the Governor confirmed the appointment of Khan Sahib as
Chief Minister and the latter had, in the meantime, announced the formation
of a new political party to be known as the Republican
Party. It was made clear that the new party had the full
personal backing of President Mirza (of whom Khan Sahib was a personal
friend) and within days a majority of Moslem League members both of
the National Assembly and of the West Pakistan legislative assembly had
deserted the Moslem League and joined the Republican Party.
The Republican Party was thus created as the open parliamentary party of
the "Karachi" clique. It was a purely parliamentary machine, with the vaguest
of programmes, and it was distinguished from the Moslem League only by
the fact that it was controlled by the "Karachi" clique, while the latter
had been controlled by the "Punjabi" clique.
office in West Pakistan, and to enable him (the President) to retain
his hold over a substantial membership of the National Assembly was a measure
of his involvement in politics, despite his protestations to the contrary.
The Republican Party provided him with a convenient
tool to establish his supremacy both over the Parliament and the Prime
Minister. Since it had the largest following in the House, the Prime Minister
was always a nominee of the President. ....
At his instance the Party gave and withdrew its support from successive
governments, and in each crisis people were given the impression that the
President alone was the one and only force of stability in the country.....
Neither at the Centre nor in the provinces had it
a policy or a programme, and its members in the legislatures had no bond
of loyalty save their common stake in the government. No matter of principle
or ideology being involved in their secession from the Moslem League, the
party whose ranks they had swollen was hardly distinguishable from its
parent body. ......
The party thus functioned within the four walls
of Parliament. ...
The Republicans acquired the reputation of being
considered the party of the palace. The reputation was not altogether baseless
as on several occasions party meetings were held in the President's House
Created by the government, the Republican Party
had no entity apart from the government."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: "Government and Politics in Pakistan"; P.3()-40, 156,
158, 179, 182).
The Creation of the National
United Front in East Pakistan had now been broken up, but the Awami League
remained as the political party of the national capitalists of East Pakistan.
The smashing of the Moslem League in West Pakistan had weakened the political
power of the "Punjabi" landlord clique, but this clique continued to exercise
a powerful influence in the provincial Republican Party within unified
The next tasks of the "Karachi" clique on its road to complete
state power were, therefore,
1) to split the Awami League,
2) to weaken still further the political power of the "Punjabi" clique.
tasks were accomplished by the formation of a coalition government at the
Centre in which the Awami League could be gravely compromised.
a result of the defection of his Moslem League Ministers to the Republican
Party, by September 1956, Prime Minister Chaudhri
Mohammad Ali was left as the only member of the Cabinet
remaining in the Moslem League. On September 8th, 1956, finding this position
untenable, he resigned both as Prime Minister and from the Moslem League.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the Republican Party had reached agreement with
the leaders of the Awami League that, if the latter would join them in
a coalition government, they would support the enactment of legislation
to establish joint electoral rolls throughout the country - this
question having been left unresolved in the Constitution Act of February
September 10th, 1956, therefore, President Mirza invited Suhrawardy,
leader of the Awami League, to form a government, and a coalition government
of 5 Republicans and 4 Awami League members came to office, with Suhrawardy
as Prime Minister.
tactical reasons, the electorate issue was dealt with in two stages.
"The policies he (i.e., Suhrawardy - Ed) pursued .... had to be evolved
in consultation and agreement with the senior partners in the Coalition.
First, in September 1956, the National Assembly adopted the Electorate
Bill, providing for joint electoral rolls in East Pakistan and separate
religious electoral rolls in West Pakistan. Then, in April 1957, it adopted
the Electorate Amendment Bill, abolishing separte electorates in
West Paki'stan and establishing joint electorat rolls througout the
On other issues, such as
foreign policy, the Awami League Ministers were compelled either to follow
the policy of the dominant Republican Party (that is, of the "Karachi"
clique) or resign. They chose the former course, and Suhrawardy became
a skilled exponent of the "necessity" for Pakistan to maintain and develop
its dependence on US imperialism.
Although the foreign policy pursued by Mr. Suhrawardy
was admittedly not his own, he decidedly proved its abler exponent than
the two Mohammad Alis who had preceded him. He argued that Pakistan's membership
of the military alliances.was a condition of its survival, and neutrality
the surest invitation to aggression. ...
He was a staunch champion of the West.
Indeed, he went far out of his way to support the
(Mushtaq Ahmad: "Government and Politics in Pakistan"; Karachi; 1963;
pro-US imperialist policy of the Awami Legaue Ministers aroused considerable
indignation among the national capitalists of East Pakistan, whose
interests the Awami League had been founded to represent, as well as
among anti -irriperialist rank-and-file members of the party.
October 1956, therefore, President Mirza went to Dacca where:
"Strangely he conferred with Maulana Bhashani".
(D.N. Banerjee: "East Pakistan: A Case-study in Muslim Politics"; Delhi;
offer to Bhashani, who was President
of the Awami League, was that if he (Bhahani) - taking advantage of the
dissatisfaction with the foreign policy of the Awami League Ministers
- formed a breakaway party which would include in its programme the dismemberment
of West Pakistan, the Republ ican Party would support it.
Shortly after his meeting with Mirza, Bhashani began to criticise openly,
this policy of the Awami League Ministers. In March 1967, Bhashani
resigned as President of the League. In July 1957, together with Mian
Iftikharuddin, leader of the Azad
Pakistan Party, he sponsored a convention of "democratic
forces" in Dacca, which set up the National
Awami Party (NAP).
programme of the National Awami Party included the following points:
Full provincial autonomy for all provinces (including those at present
incorporated in West Pakistan);
Development of an industrialised economy, through the encouragement
a national enterprise;
The abolition of landlordism in the countryside;
Uncompromising opposition to all foreign alliances, better conditions
for the working class in the fields of wages, education, health, etc;
the appeal of the N.A.P. was directed towards the landlords in the former
provinces of Sind, North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan (now dominated
with "0ne Unit" by the "Punjabi" landlord clique), and towards the national
capitalists, peasantry, petty bourgeoisie and workers in both West and
East - with particular emphasis on drawing the support of these latter
classes in the East away from the Awami League. Although the appeal of
the N.A.P was directed towards these social strata, objectively it was
a party which served the interests of the "Karachi" land-lord /comprador
bourgeois clique. While the Republican Party was the open party of
"Karachi" clique, the National Awami Party was its concealed
the viewpoint of practical politics, the key point in the policy of
the N.A.P. was that of working for the dismemberment of West Pakistan.
"In the organisation and membership of the party itself, opposition
One Unit played the most important and decisive part."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid.; p.162).
this which particularly appealed to the landlords in Sind, the NorthWest
Frontier Province and Baluchistan. The Frontier area soon became the largest
unit in the new party, most of its members there being the personal followers
of landlord Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
(the brother of the Republican leader Dr.Khan
face of the situation created by the breaking away of a section of their
party to form the National Awami Party, the leaders of the Awami League
approached the leaders of the Krishak Sramik Party with the proposal that
a new "united front" should be established between the two parties. To
counter this move, the representatives of the "Karachi" clique offered
a deal to the K.S.P. leadership to the effect that, if the Awami League's
proposal were rejected, the K.S.P. would be invited to participate in a
coalition government at the Centre. The result of these manoeuvres was
that the K.S.P. also split: one section, headed by Azizul
Huq and Yusuf Ali Chaudhur,
favoured a "united front" with the Awami League, the other section, headed
by Hamidul Huq Chaudhury, favoured
coming to terms with the "Karachi" clique in order to gain the opportunity
of participating in the central government.
September 1957, following the agreement to "work together" between the
leaders of the Republican Party and those of the National Awami Party,
the West Pakistan legislative assembly adopted a resolution in favour
of the dismemberment of West Pakistan into four separate provinces. The
resolution was moved by those representatives who were now members of the
National Awami Party and supported by most of the Republican Party members.
Tariq Ali, a trotskyite
supporter of the National Awami Party, is compelled to admit:
"The National Awami Party indulged in a certain amount of political
intrigue in West Pakistan with the extreme right-wing Republican Party...
It was prepared to make unprincipled alliances to undo One Unit in West
Communist Party of Pakistan was by now completely dominated by revisionism,
and the National Awami Party became the principal field of work of
"communists", some of whom obtained influential positions.
The Awami League was opposed to the dismemberment of West Pakistan, since
this would destroy the whole basis of the deal by which they had gained
parity between East and West in the National Assembly. But the usefulness
of the Awami League leaders to the "Karachi" clique was now at an end,
and in October 1957 the Republican Party withdrew its support from the
coalition government on the grounds that Prime Minister Suhrawardy
was not putting into effect the resolution of the West Pakistan provincial
assembly recommending the dissolution of "One Unit".
On October 11th, Suhrawardy
resigned as Prime Minister at the demand of President
Mirza, on the grounds that, with the withdrawal of Republican
support, his government no longer commanded the support of a majority of
members of the National Assembly.
in the East Wing
in East Pakistan, the provincial government of Abu
Hussain Sarkar - opposed by the Awami League, the Pakistan
National Congress and the Schedule Caste Federation - had been in a position
to be overthrown on a vote of confidence as soon as the provincial assembly
was called together. For this reason, the provincial assembly was not called
together for almost a year, and in the meantime, in March 1956, Governor-General
Mirza - to strengthen the shaky position of the Srakar government
- appointed as Governor of East Bengal Fazlul
Huq, leader of the Krishak Sramik Party, the principal party
in the "United Front".
need to have the provincial budget approved by the assembly, made it necessary
to summon the provincial assembly on May 22nd, 1956. Speaker Abdul
Hakim (another member of the K. S. P.) saved the day by
adjourning the House without permitting the budget to be presented. On
May 26th, on the advice of Governor Fazlul Huq, Mirza (now President) imposed
Governor's rule on the province. On June Ist, having himself authorised
provincial expenditure for three months, he revoked Governor's Rule, and
reinstated the Sarkar Ministry.
The next meeting of the provincial
legislative assembly was fixed for August 13th, 1956. Four hours before
the session was due to begin, Governor Fazlul Huq prorogued it. The Sarkar
Ministry finally resigned and Governor's Rule was once more imposed on
September, 1956, after a demonstration had been fired upon by the Dacca
police, killing four people, and a general strike had been called in protest,
Ataur Rahman Khan of the Awami
League was invited to form a provincial government. This was a coalition
government which included Ministers from Ganatantri Dal and the Pakistan
National Congress, and - with intermittent periods of Governor's Rule and
two unsuccessful attempts to reinstate the Sarkar Ministry - it continued
in office until the military coup of October 1958.
The Final Phase of "Parliamentary
that the attack on "One Unit" had been opened by the National Awami Party
and the Republican Party, the Moslem League replied by opening an attack
upon the principle of joint electorates - claiming that these had
only been accepted on the basis of "One Unit".
In August 1967 the Nizam-e-Islam Party
broke away from the Krishak Sramak Party on the issue of separate religious
electorates (which the former supported and the latter opposed), and the
"United Front" ceased to exist. In May 1958 the Nizam-e-Islam Party
merged with the Tahrik-i-Istehkam-i-Pakistan
(a small party formed by ex-Prime Minister Chaudhri
Mohammad Ali) into a new Islamic party under the former's
Republican Party (which had brought about the downfall of the Suhrawardy
government ostensibly on the grounds that its Awami League Ministers had
failed to put into effect the resolution of the West Pakistan provincial
legislature recommending dismemberment of "One Unit") now entered
into an agreement with the Moslem League to form a coalition government
with it on the understanding that the question of "One Unit" could be postponed
indefinitely, and that the Republicans would support legislation to establish
separate religious electoral rolls.
"The President had given his word on behalf of the Republican Party
In December 1957 ex-Prime Minister Chundrigar revealed that:
the effect that they would support a Bill ushering in separate electorates".
("Dawn", Karachi- December 19th, 1957).
leaders of the Krishak Srarnik Party were then persuaded to reverse their
position on separate electorates in ordep that they might participate in
the coalition government to be formed.
On this basis, on, October 18th, 1957 a coalition government composed of
the Republican Party, the Moslem League, the Krishak Sramik Party and the
Nizam-e-Islam Party was formed, with Ismail
Ibrahim Chundrigar of the Moslem League as Prime Minister,
it consisted of 7 Republicans, 4 Ministers from the Moslem League, 3 from
the K.S.P., 1 from the Nizam-e-Islam Party, and 1 Independent.
The Moslem League, said Prime Minister Chundrigar:
"... had entered the Government to save the ideology of Pakistan, which
now government proceeded immediately to introduce a Bill for the establishment
of separate religious electorates for the promised General Election,
now postponed until November 1958.
was menaced by joint electorates".
("Dawn", Karachi; lovember 3rd, 1957).
The Republican Party now reversed its policy once more - its Central
Committee declaring that the party could not, after all, support the introduction
of separate religious electorates. Having lost the support of the Republicans,
the Chundrigar government was compelled to resign, two months after,
taking office, on December 11th, 1957.
On December 16th, 1957, President Mirza
invited Malik Firoz Khan Noon,
the new leader of the Republican Party, to form a government. On the basis
of the party's new policy of defending joint electorates, Noon was promised
the support of all the parties in the House which favoured joint electorates
- the Awami League, the National Awami Party, the Pakistan National Co'ngress,
the Schedule Caste Federation, and the section of the Krishalk Sramik Party
headed by Hamidul Huq Choudhury.
new government was composed initially of 7 Republicans, 1 Minister from
the K.S.P., and 1 Independent.
that the new government would proceed to dismember West Pakistan, the Moslem
League - still dominated by the "Punjabi" landlord clique and strengthened
by some defections from the Republican Party, -- on this issue - now organised
a para-military force of some 60,000, the National
Guard which began to parade the streets of the cities armed
"Law and order have deteriorated; general administration has weakened,
provincialism is working its venom unabated."
But the plans of the "Karachi" clique to establish a military dictatorship
were now reaching their final phase.
In March 1958 President Mirza
("Pakistan Times"; March 24th, 1958).
In May 1958 Dr. Khan Sahib founder
of the Republican Party, was assassinated, and in July the General Elections
were further postponed from November 1958 to February 1959.
September 20th, 1958 the Speaker of the East Pakistan legislative assembly,
Abdul Hakim, a member of the
Krishak Sramik Party, named several Awami League members for disorderly
conduct, whereupon fighting broke out in the chamber and the Speaker was
forced to leave. The Deputy Speaker, a defector from the K.S.P., then permitted
a motion to be carried declaring the Speaker to be of unsound mind. On
September 23rd, opposition members attacked the Deputy Speaker when he
attempted to take the chair, and he was fatally injured. Several opposition
members, including former Chief Minister Sarkar, were arrested. The provincial
budget was passed in the absence of the opposition, and the assembly adjourned.
The "Revolution" of October
"Karachi" clique were now satisfied that the existing political parties,
and "parliamentary democracy" itself, had been sufficiently discredited
by their manoeuvres to abolish "parliamentary democracy" and establish
a military dictatorship.
In the same month, September 1958, the government imposed a ban
on all private para-military organisations, pre-censorship of all newspapers
and periodicals, a ban on meetings of more than 5 persons, and the death
penalty for a whole range of offences, including the publication of material
"calculated to provoke feelings of enmity".
The Working Committee of the Moslem League replied on September
28th by adopting a resolution accusing the government of trying to create
lawlessness and bloodshed as a pretext for postponitig the elections, and
declared that it was the duty of the people and the Moslem League to overthrow
any government bent on introducing despotism, "if need be, by extra-constitutional
On the pretext of strengthening the government to meet the "threatening
situation", Noon brought into the Cabinet 8 Ministers from the Awami League,
a further member from the Republican Party, and a further member of the
Krishak Sramik Party - so creating 26 Ministers out of a House of 80. When
these Awami League members were allotted minor portfolios, however, they
resigned in protest five days after joining the government.
On the evening of the day on which the Awami League Ministers resigned
from the government, President Mirza issued
"The mentality of the political parties has sunk so low that I am
any longer to believe that elections will improve the present chaotic
condition. I have decided that:
1) The Constitution of March 23rd, 1956, will be abrogated;
2) the Central and Provincial Governments will be dissolved with immediate
3) the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies will be dissolved;
4) all political parties will be abolished; and
5) until alternative arrangements are made, Pakistan will come under
Mohammad Ayub Khan, commander-in -chief of the Pakistan
army was appointed Chief Martial Law Administrator.
Meetings, strikes, and the publication of any material not passed by the
military censor, were prohibited under penalty of many years' imprisonment.
On October 27th, 1958 President Mirza announced that he had:
"decided to step aside and hand over all powers to General Ayub Khan".
and Ayub Khan assumed the post of President.
He abolished the office of Prime Minister and appointed a Cabinet of which
the President was the head.
("Pakistan Times", October 28th, 1958),
Such was the character of what came officially to be called
"the revolution of October 1958".
The "Karachi" landlord /comprador bourgeois clique had
established its military dictatorship.
FOUR: PAKISTAN AS A SEMI-COLONY OF U.S. IMPERIALISM
Continued Dependence upon
establishment in October 1958 of the military dictatorship of the "Karachi"
clique brought about an increase in U.S. "aid", but no change in the
basis of Pakistan's foreign policy:
"The Martial Law Regime .... had no quarrel with the basic assumptions
SECOND PHASE: MILITARY DICTATORSHIP
of the foreign policy followed by the previous governments."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: "Government and Politics in Pakistan"; Karachi,1963;
1959 a Bilateral Defence Agreement was signed between Pakistan and
the United States, with the US government assuring India that it would
operate only in relation to "aggression from Communist countries".
In November 1959 a "Treaty of Friendship" was signed between Pakistan
and the United States. One of its primary aims was stated to be "the
encouragement of US investment in Pakistan", for the purpose of which
special facilities were granted to US firms and businessmen in Pakistan.
In December 1959 US President Eisenhower
visited Pakistan, and was decorated with the country's highest order in
recognition of his "noble achievements for the free world". A joint communique
expressed the satisfaction of both governments with "the increasingly close
cooperation" between them, and emphasised the importance with which they
regarded the CENTO and SEATO pacts.
In March 1961 US Vice-President Lyndon Johnson
visited Pakistan for talks with President Ayub Khan.
The Pressure for a Rapprochement
US imperialists were, during this period, placing considerable pressure
upon the Pakistan government to make concessions to India upon points
of conflict between the two states, with the overall aim of drawing the
whole Indian subcontinent into the military orbit of the USA.
a result of this pressure, in May 1959 President Ayub Khan proposed Indo-Pakistani
cooperation for "the defence"_of the sub-continent. In September 1959
he met Indian Prime Minister Jawaharwel Nehru
in Delhi, and paid public tribute to the latter's "outstanding
personality". In October 1959 an Indo-Pakistani Ministerial conference
settled the principal outstanding border disputes in relation to
the East Pakistan border with India, and in January 1960 a further Ministerial
conference performed the same task in relation to the West Pakistan border.
In September 1960 Prime Minister Nehru visited Pakistan to sign the Indus
Waters Treaty, agreed after nine years of negotiation through the "mediation"
of the US-controlled World Bank.
The Indus Waters settlement had the added effect of removing the basis
of one of Pakistan's complaints about Indian occupation of part of
Hindu Maharajah of Kashmir, Sir Hari Singh,
had in October 1947 acceded to India, although the Kashmiri population
was predominantly Moslem. Pakistani troops then entered Kashmir and during
1948 fighting occurred between Indian and Pakistani forces, ending in a
cease-fire in July 1949 -- after the question had been referred to the
Security Council of the United Nations. Since then the northern and western
half of Kashmir had been occupied and administered by Pakistan,, and was
known as Azad (Free) Kashmir,
the remainder by India.
had repudiated her original pledge that the dispute should be settled by
a plebiscite of the population
of Kashmir, and in January 1957 had formally incorporated that part of
Kashmir under its administration into the Indian State. In November 1962
US Assistant Secretary of State Averell Harriman
emphasised, in talks with Nehru and Ayub Khan, the importance
with which the US government regarded attempts to solve the Kashmir question.
However, Ministerial talks between India and Pakistan which followed between
December 1962 and May 1963 failed to make any progress.
"Threats" from Karachi
fact that the US imperialists were exerting pressure upon the Pakistan
government to make concessions to the Indian government on outstanding
questions, rather than the other way round, was primarily because they
regarded India as a more valuable member of the US-dominated bloc:
Following the death of Nehru in May 1964, Ayub Khan made a fervent broadcast
appeal in June for friendship between the two States. In October 1964 Indian
Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri visited
Pakistan for talks with President Ayub Khan.
But the Kashmir dispute
remained a continuing source of antagonism between the two States.
Pakistani Foreign Minister, Mohammad Ali,
told an emergency session of the National Assembly in November 1962 of
a secret agreement made in 1951 between India and the United States:
"As far back as 1951 the US Government had agreed to provide arms
and equipment to India, and the Indian Government had entered into a formal
agreement which amounted to her being for all practical purposes in an
agreement similar to that under the SEATO Pact".
Ayub regime was extremely concerned at the fact that, despite its subservience
to the USA, the US imperialists were engaged in building up the strength
of the state which it regarded (in the words of Ayub Khan in a broadcast
of October 1964) as its "worst enemy".
"The entire diplomatic thinking in the State Department was dominated
by the overriding consideration that India had to be built up as a bulwark
against China and entitled to all the material assistance and moral support
from America to equip her for the leadership of Asia."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid; p.234).
In 1961 President Ayub Khan felt
it necessary to make a public protest about US policy towards India. He
told an Associated Press correspondent that the Pakistan government was
"concerned, upset and disappointed" about what he still obediently referred
to as the "possibility" of US military aid to India, and said threateningly
that Pakistan was in process of "re-examining" its membership of
CENTO and SEATO, Visitng Washington for talks with President
Kennedy in the same month, he pleaded to a joint session
"If there is real trouble, there is no other country in Asia where
be able even to put your foot in, The only people who will stand by
you are the people of Pakistan".
And in an interview on Amenican television, he declared:
"Pakistan may slide towards neutrality if forced by circumstances
or dictated by requirements of security. There is grave concern about the
ramifications of the new American policy. Smaller Asian countries like
Pakistan .... are apprehensive. If India becomes overwhelmingly strong
militarily or economically, these countries will look for protection elsewhere"
Ayub's pleadings nor what Washington regarded as his empty threats, had
any effect upon United States policy towards India. The Indian
aggression against People's China in October 1962 provided
the pretext for the public announcement of "massive US military
"aid" to India. In November Ayub
denounced this action as a "betrayal" of Pakistan, while Foreign Minister
Mohammad Ali, at an emergency
session of the National Assembly, declared that it posed "a threat to our
safety and security", adding:
Rapprochement with China
The People's Republic of China, in which Marxist-Leninists were at this
time in leading positions (see "Report of the CC of the
MLOB on the Situation in the People's Republic of China", in RED FRONT,
January 1968) was at this time threatened with encirclement
by a bloc of hostile powers allied overtly or covertly with US imperialism:
"Should we find that membership of these pacts is no longer in the
national interest of Pakistan., we shall not hesitate for a moment to get
out of them."
the Soviet Union (under the Khrushchovite revisionist leaders who were
restoring capitalism), Japan, India and Pakistan.
The Chinese leaders correctly
strove to break this encirclement by seeking to take advantage of the contradictions
between these states - in particular of the contradictions between India
and Pakistan. Thus, they strove to establish a rapprochement at state
level with Pakistan.
Faced with the threat of
war with an India armed with the latest US weapons, the Pakistan government
welcomed the opportunity of rapprochement with China - not as an alternative
to its alliance with the USA imperialists, but as a means of strengthening
their bargaining position within it.
"Pakistan's own security, therefore, lay in seeking an arrangement
with the power which could effectively check the expansionist tendency
(i.e., of India -Ed.) and the only power that could do so was China".
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid.; P.239).
Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali died in January 1963, his successor Zulfiqar
Ali Bhutto was instructed to make a rapprochement with
China a cardinal point of Pakistan's foreign policy.
In March 1963 an agreement was signed between Pakistan and China which
"finally" settled the frontier between China and Kashmir.
In July 1963 Ayub Khan declared
that if India continued to receive massive military aid from the Western
Powers, the small nations of Asia would be compelled to "take refuge under
China". And in the same month Foreign Minister Bhutto told the National
"Pakistan will not be alone if she becomes the victim of any aggression.
It would involve the largest State in Asia."
1963 Pakistan signed an agreement with China for the establishment of airline
communications between the two countries. The US government immediately
denounced the agreement as "an unfortunate breach of free world solidarity",
and announced the suspension of a $4.3 million loan to Pakistan for improvements
at Dacca airport.
In September 1963 Pakistan
signed a trade agreement with China.
In the same month US
Assistant Secretary of State George Ball visited Pakistan
for talks with President Ayub Khan.
According to an inspired leak from the US State Department, Ball told Ayub
that any close relationship between Pakistan and China would nullify the
sense of any alliance between Pakistan and the United States.
February 1964 Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-lai
and Foreign Minister Chen Yi visited Pakistan and signed
a communique affirming China's support for Pakistan's viewpoint on the
Kashmir issue, namely that the future of Kashmir should be settled
by a free plebiscite of the Kashmiri people.
In February 1965 the Chinese government granted Pakistan an interest-free
loan of US $ 60 million. In March 1965 President
Ayub Khan visited Peking and signed a cultural agreement,
while in April Prime Minister Chou En-lai
again visited Pakistan for talks with Ayub Khan.
In March 1966 Chinese President Liu Shao-chi
visited Pakistan, accompanied by Foreign Minister
Chen Yi. A joint communique reaffirmed China's support for
Pakistan's viewpoint on the Kashmir issue, and Pakistan's support for the
admission of China to the United Nations.
On March 23rd, 1966 Chinese-built T29 tanks and MIG-19 fighter planes took
part in the Republic Day parade in Karachi alongside US-built equipment.
In June 1966 Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-lai
paid a further visit to Pakistan for talks with Ayub. In
the same month a Sino-Pakistani scientific and cultural agreement was signed,
followed by trade agreements in July and August, and an agreement on.maritime
transport between the two countries in October.
the policy of the Ayub military dictatorship in fostering closer relations
with China was to try to pressure the US imperialists into more favourable
treatment, and not a change in the basis of Pakistan's dependence upon
US imperialism, is shown by the official statement issued after the visit
of US Assistant Secretary of State Ball to
Pakistan in September 1963:
"We are still loyal members of the military alliances with the United
States. We have not changed sides in the cold war",
and by Bhutto's declaration to a journalist in April 1966:
"We have always been close (i e., to the United States - Ed.); perhaps
in the final analysis we have gone even closer to the United States by
going closer to others".
The Economic Pattern
military dictatorship of the "Karachi" clique had no wish to change fundamentally
the colonial-type economic structure of Pakistan:
"The new Plan (i.e., the Second "Five Year Plan", 1961-65 - Ed.) did
not radically differ from the previous one in its motivation and conception.
Its authors did not think that there was anything basically wrong with
the first Plan."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: "Government and Politics in Pakistan", Karachi; 1963;
The economy continued to be based on private enterprise:
"It has long been one of the cardinal policies of the Government to
allow free enterprise full play in the development of the country. ...
The Government proposes not only to maintain this policy, but to reinforce
it and try to give it still greater scope."
(Ayub Khan: Speech at the Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Commerce.
military dictatorship of the "Karachi" clique did indeed give greater scope
to industrial capitalists, particularly those connected with the clique,
and by its policy of playing off to some extent one foreign power against
another was able, despite its fundamental dependence upon US imperialism,
to develop Pakistan's industries to a higher level:
"New incentives and facilities were given to private enterprise in
the form of reduction in the rate of super-tax and extension of the tax
holidays. Foreign exchange was made available to it for the import of raw
materials, spare parts and machinery. ...
The most important concession of all was the withdrawal of controls,
first from a few items and later a total decontrol of the economy. ...
The decision to set up two steel mills with a total capacity of 450,000
tons, one in each wing of the country, was evidence of the Government's
determination to develop heavy industry. ...
With the same object in view, an oil refinery was planned to be set
up in Karachi and search for underground oil was intensified with the cooperation
of Russia. ...
The industrialists .... received a much better deal from the Martial
Law Regime, which gave them more incentives than they had ever enjoyed
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid.; p.216-217, 246).
"The Ayub decade has seen ... an increase in industrial production of
something like 50%."
semi-colonial status of East Pakistan continued. The Second "Five
Year Plan" made the following allotments:
For imports from foreign countries
(Neville Maxwell: "Ayub Khan Takes a Hard Line with Political Opponents",
in: "The Times", London: November 14th, 1968).
East Pakistan: 1,219 m. rupees (30.5%)
West Pakistan: 2,773 m. rupees (69.5%)
pattern continued under the Third "Five Year Plan" (1966-70). In the first
eighteen months of Pakistan's Third Five-Year Plan, industrial investment
worth 2,240 m. rupees was sanctioned. Two-thirds of it went to West Pakistan.
Of the foreign exchange allotted, 70% went to West Pakistan. According
to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, even
the official data of the Plans underestimate the semi-colonial exploitation
of the East:
"If even 25% of these paper schemes were to be transformed into reality,
East Pakistan would now be safely on its way to an economic El Dorado.
The truth is that projects - conceived and sanctioned almost simultaneously
in both the wings - do not appear to make any headway in East Pakistan,
while they have either been finally implemented or are nearing the stage
of completion in West Pakistan. The Government is always ready with one
excuse or another in order to hide the basic fact of un-willingness to
develop East Pakistan and thereby keep it economically backward - an appendage
to a highly industrialised West Pakistan. It is paradoxical indeed that
a number of projects in the Eastern wing, which according to the statistical
claims of the Government, are receiving a large share of foreign aid, are
not being implemented 'owing to foreign exchange difficulties', while no
such difficulties ever arise in the case of West Pakistan projects".
(Mujibur Rahman, cited in: Subhash C. Kashyap: ibid.; p.41-42).
the military dictatorship, Bengalis remain for the most part excluded from
the armed forces and the higher ranks of the civil service:
"After twenty-one years, Bengalis account for barely 15% in Central
Government services and less than 10% in the defence services."
(Mujibur Rahman: Text of Radio broadcast of October 28th, 1970, in
"Dawn", Karachi, October 29th 1970).
"All but 20 000 men out of a Federal Army of 500,000 are recruited in
picture is confirmed in an extensive study of East Pakistan made by Hanna
Papanek, of the Centre for International Affairs, Harvard
"The Civil Service of Pakistan includes only a very small proportion
of Bengalis, especially in top positions. ...
the West". ("Financial Times"; March 18th 1969).
Since 1958 it has been especially important to note that the armed
services of Pakistan also include very few Bengalis".
(Hanna Papanek: " Sources of Economic Exploitation of East Bengal",
in "Young Indian", April l5th, 1971).
radio broadcast of October 29th, 1970, Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman summed up the pattern of twenty years:
"To turn now to the appalling record of economic disparity, it is
seen that during the last twenty years out of a total revenue expenditure
of the Government - only about Rs. 1,500 crores (i.e., 15,000 m. Rupees
- Ed.) (that is, only one-fifth of the total) was spent in Bengal. ...
Of the total development expenditure during the same period, Rs. 3,000
crores (i.e., 30,000 m. rupees - Ed.) (that is, only one-third of the total)
was spent in Bengal. ... Over twenty years West Pakistan has imported goods
worth more than Rs. 3,000 crores (i.e., 30,000 m. rupees - Ed) as against
its own foreign exchange earnings of barely Rs. 1,300 crores (ie., 13,000
m rupees - Ed).
Imports into West Pakistan have been three times the value of imports
It was made possible for West Pakistan to import goods worth Rs. 2,000
crores (i.e., 20,000 m. rupees - Ed.) in excess of its export earnings
by allocating to it Rs.500 crores (i.e., 5,000 m. rupees - Ed.) of the
foreign exchange earnings of Bengal and allowing it to utilise over 80%
of all foreign aid. ...
The Fourth Five Year Plan .... allocations (i.e., 1971-75 - Ed.) are
a confession of the failure of the Central Government ... to redress past
(Mujibur Rahman: Text of Radio Broadcast of October 28th, 1970; in:
"Dawn", Karachi; October 29th, 1970).
"By 1969, according to economists in the provincial planning department
in Dacca, East Pakistanis were on average 20% worse off than their less
numerous compatriots in the West. By 1968 the disparity had widened (according
to the same source) to 40%".
result of the semi -colonial status of East Pakistan, industrial development
has been much more rapid in the West than in the East:
"Manufacturing industry has been at least twice as important in the
economy of West Pakistan as in that of East Pakistan throughout the entire
period since 1947. The more complex and advanced industries have been mainly
located in West Pakistan, while many of East Pakistan's industries consist
of jute and cotton mills."
("Financial Times"-, March 18th,1969)
(Hanna Papanek: "Sources of Economic Exploitation of East Bengal",
in: "Young Indian". April 5th, 1971).
the major part of the industries that have developed in East Pakistan are
owned or financed by West Pakistani capital:
"East Pakistan's dominant businessmen and industrialists are largely
The eastern wing's dominant non-Bengali entrepreneurs are seen as part
of a domination of the province's governmental and economic institutions
by West Pakistanis. This is particularly serious in the case of the largest
industrial and commercial enterprises. ....
The absence of Bengalis from the new class of industrialists in Pakistan
is particularly notable at the top. Among the twenty-nine largest 'Houses'
(or family-controlled enterprise groups) ranked in terms of net worth,
there are two Bengalis near the bottom of the list. All of these Houses,
with the exception of the few owned by Karachi Parsis, are owned and controlled
by West Pakistani Moslems. Most of the twnety-nine are of Punjabi or western
Indian origin; many are post-1947 immigrants. All of the Houses have headquarters
in West Pakistan, with the exception of the two Bengalis and the Adamjee
and Ispahani groups of enterprises. ...
Out of all industrial assets, .... Bengali Moslems owned and controlled
only 2.5% ... Most of the heads of enterprises are residents of West
The 'commanding heights of the economy' .... are controlled, in both
East and West Pakistan by a very small group of families, almost none of
whom is native to East Pakistan. ....
The early decision to locate the national capital in Karachi .... has
been extremely important in affecting the location of industrial plants
and business headquarters, since proximity to government agencies in charge
of licences and foreign exchange was of the greatest importance to industrialists.
The lack of Bengali businessmen and industrialists assumes its particular
importance only in the context of the severe disparity between East and
West Pakistan in terms of political power and economic resource distribution.
Bengalis are lacking in the country's economically powerful class as well
as in its governing structure."
(Hanna Papanek- "Sources of Economic Exploitation of East Bengal",
in: "Young Indian", April 5th,1971)
"Karachi" clique used its control of the military dictatorship in order
to advance particularly the wealth and economic power of members of
the clique - not least that of Ayub Khan's
own family . As a result, there has developed the notorious,
although stunted, state-monopoly capitalist group of finance capitalists
of some twenty families, which (according to Dr.
Mahbubul Huq, chief economist of the Plannng Commission,
and M. Raschid, Governor of
the State Bank, in 1968) owned 66% of industry, 79% of insurance and 80%
of banking. According to an article in "Life" magazine:
"In Karachi, Pakistan's commercial centre, it had been known in certain
circles that Ayub's family and his cabinet had been getting rich with the
aid of government loans and licences. Now his government is unabashedly
accused of corruption. The son of Altaf Hussain,
Pakistan's Industr Minister, has been given a major share in a steel-polling
mill. Ghulam Faruque, Ayub's
canny Commerce Minister, had acquired large stockholdings in companies
that he helped to promote as Chairman of the Pakistan Industrial Development
Corporation, and so on. Ayub
himself is a large landowner, with citrus orchards near Rawalpindi and
sugar lands in Sind. Near the site of the latter the Army Welfare Association
has erected a sugar mill and has been buying the President's output. Gohar
Ayub, the Presidert's stocky, mustachioed son, has become
a millionaire. With the help of government financing, Gohar led a syndicate
which bought out General Motors shares of an assembly plant in Karachi.
He has since extended his holdings and was recently granted exclusive rights
for the distribution of Toyota cars in Pakistan."
(Article in "Life". cited in the "Times of India"; January 29th, 1967,
By 1965 the total capital of the Ayub family had been unofficially estimated
at 250 million rupees, not including money in foreign bank accounts.
1958 Public Safety Ordinances were promulgated in both provinces,
empowering the authorities to detain persons without trial and to censor
or ban newspapers and periodicals.
In April 1959 an ordinance was promulgated empowering the government to
change the ownership or management of any newspaper which "in the opinion
of the government .... contained matter detrimental to the defence, external
affairs or security of Pakistan". Two days later the government took over
Progressive Papers Ltd., proprietors of the "Pakistan Times". In
January 1962 the company was resold to an "approved" businessman, Chaudhri
Mohammad Hussain, Chairman of the Lahore Municipality.
In August 1959 followed the Elective Bodies (Disqualification) Ordinance
(EBDO), under which tribunals could try persons who had taken part
in political activity for "misconduct", "subversive activities", "actions
contributing to politiclal instability" etc., with power to bar such
persons from political activity for seven yey July 1961 75 politicians
had been officially disqualified from political activity under EBDO.
In April 1960 the Press and Publications Ordinance rendered newspapers
and periodicals liable to pay a substantial deposit to the state, subject
to forfeiture (as well as banning of the periodical concerned) in the event
of any matter being published tending "to bring the Government into hatred
or contempt" or "to incite disaffection against the Government".
In January 1962, in an effort to reduce opposition to the new dictatorial
constitution being prepared, Suhrawardy,
leader of the Awami League, was arrested and detained without trial. When
attempts were made to secure his release through a writ of habeas corpus,
the military government promulgated in February an ordinance barring the
courts from hearing applications for habeas corpus in relation to persons
detained without trial.
In September 1963 the issue of the second Press and Publications Ordinance
laying down that newspapers and periodicals must be edited in accordance
with "recognised principles of journalism and patriotism", was followed
by a one-day strike of journalists and newspaper employees.
with the facade of presenting the military coup of October 1958 as a "revolution",
within two weeks of its establishment the military dictatorship appointed
a Land Reforms Commission, headed by Akhtar
Hussain, Governor of West Pakistan. The Commission's report
was issued in February 1959 and was put into effect later that year in
West Pakistan, where its provisions were meant to apply.
Commission recommended compulsory acquisition by the State, in return for
"fair compensation" amounting to 80 million rupees, of all landholdings
in excess of 500 acres of irrigated land or 1,000 acres of non-irrigated
land. This land was to be sold to peasants, with existing tenants having
the first option to purchase.
"That more than three times the area given to one and a half lakh
(i.e., 150,000 - Ed.) tenants is retained by 6,000 landlords shows the
disparity in ownership that still persists. Landlordism has by no means
been abolished. .....
The State acquired under this "land reform" 2.2 million acres of land.
Of this, however, only 0.6 million acres was assessed as "cultivable land";
1.2 million acres was classed as "cultivable waste" (in India 15% of land
classed as "cultivable waste" is accounted cultivable, but no comparable
estimate is available for Pakistan); and 0.4 million acres as "unfit for
cultivation". After the "land reform" some 6,000 landlords retained 7.4
million acres of land (i.e., three times the amount of land taken from
them). The land assumed by the State was resold to 150,000 pcasants.
As Mushtaq Ahmad comments:
Their (i.e., the landlords' - Ed.) power, and prestige remain unaffected.
That their political influence had not diminished was borne out by the
election results. They retained their predominant position in the West
Pakistan Assembly and also in the representation of West Pakistan in the
(Mushtaq Ahmad: "Government and Politics in Pakistan"; p.199,246).
An article in "Pakistan Today" confirms this analysis:
"The reform measures which have been announced ..., will leave untouched
the fundamental problem of our agrarian econdmy, which is the divorce between
ownership and cultivation. ... The landholdings of some of the biggest
landholders will be reduced in size, in return for 'fair' compensation,
and the excess land will be available for those who can buy it - the existing
tenants being given the first option, but who may quite likely prove unable
to buy it. ....
The basic structure of our agrarian economy remains unaltered".
("Pakistan Today"; March/April 1959; p.2,27).
The figures of land ownership given on page 5 relate to the position after
the "land reform".
1959 a series of Governors' Conferences, chaired by President
Ayub Khan, elaborated a new system of local government
called "Basic Democracy" . In October 1959 Ayub Khan promoted himself
to the rank of Field Marshal, and on the following day promulgated
the Basic Democracies Ordinance. In the same month Rawalpindi
was designated the interim capital of Pakistan, pending the construction
of a new capital city on a site near Rawalpindi to be known as Islamabad.
The system of "Basic Democracies" consisted of five tiers of councils
from Village Councils at the bottom to two Provincial Development Advisory
Councils at the top. Each lower council was subordinated to its appropriate
superior council. The lowest tier of councils was partly elected, partly
appointed, the 80,000 elected members being known as "Basic Democrats"
(BD's); the higher tiers were made up of appointed members only.
Designed to give a "democratic" facade to the military dictatorship, the
system of "Basic Democracy" in reality consolidated the power of the dictatorship
throughout the country. As an article in "Pakistan Today" points out:
"Far from being a system of democratic decentralisation, the picture
that emerges from a survey of the various features of the new system is
that of centralisation of control and a consolidation of bureaucratic power.
Through the hierarchical system of councils subject to effective surveillance
and tight control at every level, we can see a most effective extension
of the arm of the bureaucracy, reaching down into every individual village
and linking up with the local power of the landed gentry who dominate the
countryside. It strengthens the landed gentry by linking it up closely
and effectively with the official machinery. ....
The fact that the councils at the lower level are subordinated to those
at the higher levels, and the fact also that the councils at the hi her
levels consist entirely of officials and nominated persons, is quite sufficient
to ensure official control of the entire system. However, as an added precaution,
the law has designated officials at an a propriate level as the 'Controlling
Authority' for councils at each level. These officials have been given
sweeping powers of direction and control over the councils under their
jurisdiction. They can forbid particular actions by the councils, and they
can also ask them to undertake any specified action. They may suppress
particular councils and take over their functions. .... The Controlling
Authority may remove any particular member of a council.
Direct elections are to be restricted.... to the lowest bodies
in the hierarchy."
("The Basic Democracies" in- "Pakistan Today", summer 1960; p.9,13).
"Basic Democrats" were intended also to form an Electoral College
under a new Constitution. Through this means the President, the National
Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies were to be indirectly elected
by a tiny electorate of 80,000 out of a population of 94 million, an electorate
dependent upon the continued approval of the military dictatorship for
lucrative positions within the framework of "Basic Democracy".
"It is obviousily easier to corrupt a small electorate than a whole
(Mushtaq Ahmad: "Government and Politics in Pakistan"l p.226).
In December 1959-January 1960 elections were held to elect 80,000 "Basic
Democrats". In January 1960 President Ayub
Khan promulgated an ordinance for a ballot of the "Basic
Democrats" to indicate their confidence in his leadership. The Election
Commissioner later announced that 95.6% of the votes cast were in favour
of President Ayub Khan, who
was then sworn in as "elected" President.
The 1962 Constitution
after his "election" as President in January 1960, Ayub appointed an 11-man
Constitution Commission, headed by Justice
Mohammad Shahabuddin of the Supreme Court, to draft a new
Constitution. The Commission presented its report in May 1961. In March
1962 the President promulgated a new Constitution which utterly disregarded
the findings of the Constitution Commission, which had earlier favoured
the immediate establishment of a Parliamentary system.
"The Constitution as it emerged was by and large a product of the
President's own thinking."
(Mughtaq Ahmad: "Government and Politics in Pakistan". Karachi 1963,
the 1956 Constitution had described Pakistan throughout as a "Federal Republic"
with a "Federal Government", the preamble to the 1962 Constitution states
vaguely that the State "should be a form of federation" but nowhere outside
the preamble is the term "Federal" used: the "Federal Republic" and "Federal
Government" of the 1956 Constitution have in the 1962 Constitution become
the "Republic" and the "Central Government" respectively. The new Constitution
gave dictatorial powers to the President on behalf of the "Karachi"
"The executive authority of the Republic is vested in the President.
Members of the Presidential Cabinet, ... known as the Council of Ministers,
are appointed by him and are removable by him. He has a free hand in selecting
his team. ... The Constitution places no restriction on his discretion
except that the Ministers must be eligible for membership of the National
Assembly, but not necessarily its members. ... The members of the Presidential
Cabinet are more like advisers of the President than his colleagues. Their
advice may be accepted or rejected or not sought at all, even on important
national affairs. ...
As master of the Cabinet, the President also has complete control of
the Central Administration. ... The Pakistan President is free to fill
high military. civil and judicial posts with men of his own choice . ....
The President is not only the head of the executive branch but also
an integral part of the legislature. The Central Legislature consists of
the President and one House known as the National Assembly. ... No bill
can become law without his assent unless the veto is overridden by a two-thirds
majority in the National Assembly, and even after such a vote the President
can hold a referendum on the disputed bill in the electoral college.
When the Legislature is not in session, the President has the power
to promulgate ordinances over any field of Central Legislation, and the
ordinances have the full force of law until revoked by the Assembly. Besides,
he enjoys wide financial powers in respect of charged and committed expenditure,
which the Assembly may discuss but on which it cannot vote. This will enable
him to run the administration and implement the projects already in hand
without the danger of supplies being cut off by the assembly. ....
The most important weapon the President has in his armoury is the power
to dissolve the National Assembly in case the differences between them
become irreconcilable. ... The threat of dissolution can be used as a lever
to enforce the President's will in legislation.
The Presidency is constructed on the theory that in the legislative
as well as in the executive sphere the President can maintain his supremacy.
The validity of laws passed by the Legislature cannot be questioned
in a court of law, even if the law in question has been passed in excess
of the jurisdiction of the legislature. ....
The Constitution, as it stands in Pakistan, affords
no remedy against
the passage of laws that may violate fundamental rights, since of their
validity the Legislature is the sole judge."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid.p.256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 263).
The powers of the Central Government over the Provincial Governments were
"In the event of a conflict of jurisdiction, Central legislation will
prevail over Provincial legislation."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid., p.260).
President, together with the National Assembly and the two Provincial Assemblies,
was to be indirectly elected by an Electoral College consisting
of the 80,000 "Basic Democrats":
"A vital respect in which the new Constitution differs from the old,
and in fact from the constitutions of other countries, .... is its faith
in the efficacy of indirect elections." (Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid. p.263).
his dictatorial constitution as "a blending of democracy with discipline",
President Ayub Khan declared:
"The Parliamentary system ... we tried and it failed .... We have
not yet attained several, sophistications that are necessary for its successful
1962 indirect elections took place for the National Assembly. 70
landlords were elected (58 from West Pakistan, 12 from East Pakistan) in
a House of 156. Although political parties remained banned, a large number
of leading figures in the former political parties, not specifically barred
by Elective Bodies (Disqualification) Ordinance (EBDO), were returned:
"Despite the ban on political parties for the election 44% of the
individuals named in the Assembly are members of proscribed political groups,
and many are critical of the new Constitution's curb on legislative and
("New York Times", May 4th, 1962).
1962 new Provincial Assemblies were elected on the same pattern as the
National Assembly. As the new National Assembly met in June 1962 at Rawalpindi,
Ayub Khan was sworn in as first
President of the Second Republic. On the same day the Martial Law
(Repeal) Ordinance was promulgated repealing Martial Law after almost
In July 1962 an Advisory Council on Islamic Ideology was appointed.
The Revival of Political
1962 Constitution envisaged a National Assembly, and a country, without
political parties. That this had been, as Ayub
Khan expressed it later - :
(Mohammad Ayub Khan: "Friends not Masters. A Political Autobiography",
Oxford; 1967; p.221)
was demonstrated in June 1952. In this month nine politicians from East
Pakistan - headed by three former Chief Ministers of the Province: Nurul
Amin, Abu Hussain Sarkar and Ataur Rahman Khan - issued
a statement calling for "political action" to secure a new Constitution.
This statement was widely interpreted as a call for extra -constitutional
political action, that is, for political action outside the machinery of
"Basic Democracy" controlled by the military dictatorship. The "Karachi"
clique saw as a danger signal:
Six days after the issue of
this threatening statement, on June 30th,1962; the government secured the
adoption in the National Assembly of the Political Parties Bill,
permitting the formation of "approved" political parties - those which,
in the opinion of the government, were not guilty of "propagating any opinion,
or acting in a manner prejudicial to the integrity or security of Pakistan"
or of being "in receipt of foreign aid".
"The disposition of boycott which is crystallising in the political
circles of East Pakistan. ... This is a dangerous situation and threatens
to force a gulf between the East and the West."'
(Editorial, "Pakistan Times", July 24th, 1962).
The basic motives behind this move were to create a political party
dominated by the "Karachi" clique in order to broaden the base of support
for the military dictatorship, and to divert opposition political action
from the building of a mass movement outside the constitution into the
harmless channels of a "parliamentary opposition" within the machinery
of "Basic Democracy" controlled by the military dictatorship. In July 1962
Ayub told a press conference that he
" .... would like right-minded people from both wings of the country
to meet at a convention and form a broad-based political party."
("Dawn" July 21st, 1962).
In August was reported that:
"The formation of a broad-based national party, which will in all
probability be named the Moslem League, was discussed at a special meeting
or the Presidential Cabinet today. The meeting was presided over by President
("Pakistan Times", August 17th, 1962).
1962 the "Moslem League" was
formally revived at a Convention held in Karachi, becoming known as the
"Conventionist Moslem League".
In May 1963 President Ayub Khan
joined the party, and in December 1963 was elected its President.
As Mushtaq Ahmad comments:
"The Conventionist Moslem League is a party behind the power rather
than a party in power. The initiative in calling a Convention of the Moslem
Leaguers held at Karachi in September 1962 was taken by Ministers, who
were closely associated with its proceedings and decisions. By the fact
of being a pro-Government party it is also a pro-Constitution party."
(Mushtaq Ahmad: ibid ; p.282).
formation of the Conventionist Moslem League as a "President's Party" in
such a blatantly crude manner, a Party openly serving the interests of
the "Karachi" clique and its military dictatorship, was deliberately designed
to force former Moslem League politicians associated with the "Punjabi"
and "Bengali" cligues (figures such as Mian
Mumtaz Mohammad Khan Daultana and Khwaja
Nazimuhhin) to dissociate themselves from it and form an
opposition party which could rally other opposition parties into the constitutional
framework of "Basic Democracy". This design was successful.
In October 1962 the former Council of the Old Moslem League met in Dacca
and revived what it claimed to be the "true" Moslem League, which became
known as the "Council Moslem League".
Its President was Khwaja Nazimmudin,
its General Secretary Sardar Bahadur Khan,
brother of President Ayub Khan.
In July 1962 Sardar Bahadur Khan
had issued an appeal for a "united front" of all parties, groups and individuals
who wished for the restoration of "parliamentary democracy", and in October,
under the leadership of Suhrawardy
(who had been released from prison in August) such a "united front" was
formed under the name of the "National Democratic
Front" (NDF). To evade the operation of EBDO, Suhrawardy
insisted that the N.D.F. was not a political party, but a "movement":
Awami League, in fact, envisaged the National Democratic Front as a movement
operating primarily outside the constitutional machinery of "Basic Democracy"
controlled by the military dictatorship. To meet this threat, in January
1963 the government promulgated two ordinances: one provided that a person
disqualified under Elective Bodies (Disqualification) Ordinance (EBDO)
could be sent to prison for participating in any political activity,
including addressing a meeting, issuing a leaflet or holding a press interview;
by the other the President was empowered to waive disqualification of any
EBDO politician (i.e., of any who were prepared to direct their political
activity along the constitutional lines approved by the military dictatorship).
As Suhrawardy said of these two ordinances:
"This is the most blatant form of corruption on the one hand, and
"We are not working on a party level, but we are all united for the
cause of the democratisation of the Constitution."
(H.S.Suhrawardy: Address at Mymensingh, October 27th, 1962).
coercion and suppression on the other."
("The Times", London; January 9th, 1963).
ordinances did not, however, prevent the holding of a meeting later in
January 1963 at Suhrawardy's residence in Karachi at which the National
Democratic Front was extended to West Pakistan. The 35 politicians
who took part in this meeting were arrested and charged with sedition.
the death of Suhrawardy, its leading figure, in December 1963, the NDF
ceased to play a significant role.
government followed the ordinances of January 1963 with concessions
to the opposition designed to give support to the view that fundamental
reforms could be effected constitutionally. In March 1963 it sponsored
the Constitution (First Amendment) Bill, which sought to win the
support of the conservative mullahs by renaming the state "The
Islamic Republic of Pakistan", and to placate the opposition
by making fundamental rights justifiable in the courts (except for
21 laws adopted by the Martial Law Administration!). This measure was successful
in persuading Khwaia Nazimuddin
to instruct the Council League Members of the National Assembly to vote
with the government on the Bill. The dictatorship also sought to soften
the hostility of the East Pakistan national bourgeoisie by supporting,
in April 1963, an opposition motion to set up a Parity Committee with
the official aim (which was never put into effect) of removing West/East
disparity in the services, and by making Dacca, in East Pakistan, a "subsidiary
capital" of Pakistan.
revival of the National Awami Party
and the release from prison in November 1962 of its leader Maulana
Bhashani, provided the military dictatorship with a political
arm the objection function of which was to mobilise "left" support for
The Role of the National
1963 the leader of the National Awami Party,
Maulana Bhashani, travelled
to West Pakistan for a meeting with President
Ayub Khan, following which he was appointed to lead a government
delegation to China in November. On his return the party gave its support
to the regime "with reservations", on the grounds of its "pro-Chinese"
and "anti-imperialist" foreign policy.
"President Ayub appointed him (i.e., Bhashani - Ed.) to lead a delegation,
and that journey from which he returned this week appears to have changed
all his ideas. The achievements of China ... had so impressed him that,
realising how backward Pakistan was in comparison, he was inclined he said,
to spend the rest of his life in prayers. He was calling off the civil
("The Times", London, December, 4th,1963).
"The role of the National Awami Party leadership seems to fit in more
on the Government side than on the opposition side, and yet it happens
to be sitting in the opposition in the National Assembly and the provincial
legislatures. Maulana Bhashani .... visited China with the blessing of
the government. On his return, in Chittagong, he said what would become
a loyal pro-government spokesman,"
Trotskyite Tariq Ali is a supporter
of Bhashani, of whom he says:
"Bhashani was a spokesman for the future, for a Pakistan which was
run by the workers and peasants under a socialist system of government."
("Outlook", Karachi December 28th, 1963; P.4).
(Tariq Ali; "Pakistan: Military Rule or People's Power?" London; 1970;
the following account of Bhashani's meeting with Chinese "left" revisionist
leaders Mao Tse-tung and Chou
"Soon after Maulana Bhashani was released from prison ... he agreed
to go as the leader of a government delegation to the October celebrations
in Peking. There he had discussions with the Chinese leaders, including
Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai. According to the Pakistan Ambassador to China
at that time, General Raza,
who was present during the Maulana's discussions with Chou, the latter
said in no uncertain terms that the Chinese would welcome a rapprochement
between the National Awami Party and the Ayub regime. According to Raza
the Maulana agreed. ...
When I was in.East Pakistan in June 1969 I asked the Maulana during
the course of a tape-recorded conversation:
'When you went to China,
what did Mao discuss with you when you met him? '
The Maulana's reply was quite unequivocal, and does seem to confirm
General Raza's impression:
'Mao said to me that at the present time China's relationship with
Pakistan was extremely fragile and that the United States, Russia and India
would do their utmost to break this relationship. He said,
"You are our friends, and if at the present moment you continue your
struggle against the Ayub government, it will only strengthen the hand
of Russia, America and India. It is against our in principles to interfere
with your work, but we would advise you to proceed slowly and carefully.
Give us a chance to deepen our friendship with your government"'.
(Tariq Ali, ibid.; p. 140-141).
of the Communist Party, as has
been said, had long made open work within the National
Awami Party (NAP) a principled field of their activity and
had won influential positions in it. By this time the leadership of the
Communist Party had become completely revisionist and the "Communists"
working in the N.A.P. had, in general, no disagreement with the latter
party's policy of support "with reservations" for the military dictatorship.
In April 1964 the opposition journal "Outlook" published an interview with
an unnamed "Communist" (whose reported views coincide with the viewpoint
of the leadership of the Communist Party), who declared that he would vote
for Ayub at the next election
because of the latter's "development of friendship with China", and went
so far as to say:
"Basic democracies could become training schools for soviets".
(Dialogue with a Communist, in: "Outlook", Karachi, April 24th, 1964).
Tariq Ali sums up the role of
the National Awami Party by admitting:
"Of course, many pro-Peking members of the N.A.P. could argue that
while some of them had suffered imprisonment in the pre-Ayub days, they
had for some time been allowed to do political work by the government,
and for them that was the acid test. In fact, during the last five years
of the Ayub regime (i.e., from 1964 to 1968 - Ed.) they had not engaged
in any radical activities. Since they spent 99% of their time attacking
bourgeois politicians and ignoring Ayub, there was no reason why the regime
should arrest them."
(Tariq Ali; ibid; p.142).
The 1965 "Elections"
1964 the Conventionist Moslem League
adopted Ayub Khan as its candidate
for the 1965 Presidential "elections".
In the same month the principal opposition parties were persuaded by Khwaja
Nazimuddin, the President of the Council
Moslem League, to form a 'united front' called the "Combined
Opposition Party" (COP) to test out the possibilities of
"Basic Democracy" by contesting the Presidential "elections". The COP was
made up of the Council Moslem League, the Awami
League, the National Awami Party, the Jamaat-i-Islami Party and the Nizam-i-Islam
participating in the COP, the leaders of the Awami
League placed themselves in the contradictory position
of, on the one hand, denouncing "Basic Democracy" as the completely
undemocratic machinery of the military dictatorship and, on the other hand,
suggesting, by their participation in this machinery, that it could
be used to bring about fundamental constitutional changes.
"Maulana Bhashani leader
of the National Awami Party, ... did not campaign actively for Miss Jinnah,
probably because he did not want to upset Ayub's foreign policy, which
was veering steadily towards increasing friendship with China."
That the COP election campaign was not a serious one is shown by the adoption
as Presidential candidate of Miss Fatima Jinnah
the sister of the late Mohammad Ali Jinnah,
knowing that the prospect of a woman as president would be repugnant to
moslem public opinion.
The COP adopted a 9-point programme limited to aspects of the restoration
of "parliamentary democracy" and ignoring questions of foreign policy.
The "elections" for, the Electoral College of "Basic Democrats" took place
in October-November 1964, and the Presidential election in January 1965.
Although nominally a part of the Combined Opposition Party, the leaders
of the National Awami Party took no active part in the election campaign:
(Khalid bin Sayeed; "The Political System of Pakistan"; Karachi; 1967;
cited in: Tariq Ali, ibid. p.128).
Tariq Ali himself puts this
more diplomatically (although the inverted commas are his):
"... 'Illness' prevented him (i.e., Bhashani - Ed.) from campaigning
effectively for Miss Jinnah".
(Tariq-Ali: ibid.,, p.128).
Ayub was, of course, "elected" President in January 1965, the published
voting figures being:
East Pakistan Total
Ayub Khan :
Miss Jinnah :
of the factors which induced many "Basic Democrats" in East Pakistan to
vote for Ayub was that the regime had poured money into the rural areas
through the Rural Public Works Programme. East Pakistan had received
2,000 million rupees in 1963-64 as compared to 100 million rupees for the
same programme in West Pakistan. This 'generosity' towards East Pakistan
in the pre-election year had a purpose, as Basic Democrats were the agents
for the planning and execution of the Rural Public Wcrks Programme, with
plenty of scope for patronage and corruption.
the indirect elections for the National Assembly, held in March 1965, and
in those for the Provincial Assemblies, held in May, the Conventionist
Moslem League won large majorities.
The War with India -Indo-Pakistani
Indian government had for some years taken its stand on the position that
Kashmir was an integral part
of India and so could not be the subject of negotiation with any other
The Combined Opposition Party
May 1965 Pakistan Foreign Minister Bhutto
signed in London a SEATO, communique which gave full support to the US
aggression in Vietnam. The Ayub regime judged that this support (which
contrasted sharply with the official Indian criticism of the role of US
imperialism in Vietnam) would be sufficient to ensure at least a benevolent
neutrality on the part of Washington towards Pakistan in the event of war
with India. The revisionist leaders of the Soviet Union had long been collaborating
with the US imperialists, and in April 1965 President Ayub
Khan and Foreign Minister Bhutto
paid an official visit to the USSR, during which agreements were signed
on trade, economic cooperation and cultural exchange. Furthermore,, the
predominantly Moslem population of Indian-occupied Kashmir were clearly
hostile to their Indian rulers.
all these points into consideration, the "Karachi" clique judged that there
could hardly be a more favourable moment for an attempt to "solve the Kashmir
question" in what appeared to be the only possible way in which it could
be settled to the advantage of Pakistan - by force.
After a "trial run" in the Rann (desert) of Kutch on the West Pakistan
border in April, in August 1965 the Special Forces (with officers trained
at Fort Bragg, North Carolina) entered the Indian-occupied zone of Kashmir
and commenced a guerilla type warfare against the Indian forces. It was
then announced in Karachi that a revolution had broken out in Kashmir,
and regular Pakistani troops went in "to assist the revolutionary forces".
Heavy fighting then began between Pakistani and Indian troops, and a
state of emergency wa declared in Pakistan.
calculations of the "Karachi" cliaue had however, been seriously at fault.
The Kashmiri people showed no more enthusiasm for their Pakistani "liberators"
than for their Indian oppressors. The pro-US imperialist revisionist clique
in the Soviet Union, headed by Khrushchov,
had been overthrown in the coup of October 1964, and the new Brezhnev-Kosygin
clique was bent on reorientating Soviet foreign policy in
the direction of building up an anti-US imperialist bloc in which, it was
planned, India would play an important role. Furtherrmpe, as a result of
the activity of the CIA, the US imperialists were already looking forward
to the counter-revolutionary "cultural revolution" of 1966-68 in China,
which was aimed at ousting Marxist-Leninists from leading positions, establishing
a military dictatorship on behalf of the national capitalists, and reorientating
People's China into rapprochement with Washington. (See "Report of the
C.C. of the MLOB on 'Centrist' Revisionism", in RED FRONT, March 1970).
[NB: EDITORS"S NOTE: This has NOT been web-published as of yet, although
a later book on the same theme is on the pages of Alliance - See
index pages under China].
Indo-Pakistani war of September 1965 thus came at a most inconvenient time
for both the US and Soviet imperialists at a time when the process of building
up new world-wide military blocs on the part of each of these Powers was
just beginning. Thus, the US imperialists cut off "aid" to both
India and Pakistan, while they and the Soviet imperialists acted together
to stop the war.
a result of thee action of these Powers, a cease-fire was imposed, and
the leaders of the two countries involved were summoned in January 1966
to a conference at Tashkent, capital of the Soviet republic of Uzbekistan,
where Soviet Premier Alexei Nikoyevich Kosygin
"mediated" an agreement under which both sides were to withdraw their forces
to the lines of August 1965..
"What the blood of our brave soldiers achieved was thrown away at
the conference table,"
on February 5-6th, 1966 a conference of 700 delegates from the Council
Moslem League, the Awami League, the Nizam-e-Islam and the Jamaat-i-Islami
adopted a resolution condemning the Tashkent
The failure of the Ayub regime
to "settle" the Kashmir question satisfactorily was attacked by most of
the opposition parties (except the National
Awami Party) as a "sell-out". On January 22nd, 1966, Miss
relations now returned to "normal". In December 1965 President Ayub
Khan visited the United States and made due apologies for
his naughtiness, and in June 1966 the US imperialists resumed economic
"aid" and the sale of arms to Pakistan. In December 1967 US President
Lyndon Johnson visited Pakistan for talks with Ayub, followed
in January 1968 by President Tito
of US-dominated Yugoslavia. In August 1969 US President
Richard Nixon visited Pakistan for talks with Ayub's successor
as President, General Yahya Khan.
The "Six Points"
1966 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the
President of the Awami League, put forward a six-point
1) The Constitution of Pakistan must be federal, with a parliamentary
form of government and a legislature directlv elected on the basis of adult
2) Federal subjects to be limited to defence and foreign affairs only;
3) There should be:
i) separate currencies for the two wings, freely convertible into each
ii) in the alternative, one currency subject to statutory safeguards
against flight of capital from the East to the West wing;
4) Power of taxation and revenue collection to be vested in the federating
States; the Centre to be financed by allocation of a share in the States,
5) Separate foreign exchange accounts to be kept for East and West Pakistan:
the requirements of the Federal government to be met by the two wings in
equal proportions or on any other fixed basis as may be agreed upon,
6) self-sufficiency for East Pakistan in defence matters: an ordnance
factory and a military academy to be set up in the East wing, the federal
naval headquarters to be located in, East Pakistan".
The six-point programme crystallised the economic and political demands
of the East Pakistan national capitalists
as important as the programme itself was the method proposed to
achieve it. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
suggested no repetition of the COP farce of the 1965 "elections", of seeking
to bring about fundamental constitutional changes through the machinery
of "Basic Democracy" controlled by the "Karachi" clique's military
dictatorship. Instead he called upon the mass of the people in East Pakistan
to build a "relentless, democratic mass movement" outside this machinery.
The six-point programme aroused the immediate attacks of the military dictatorship,
which sought to represent its call for regional autonomy for East Pakistan
as a call for secession.
Speaking at Rajshahi in East Pakistan on March 16th, 1966, President
Ayub Khan attacked the programme as aimed at bringing about
"...a sovereign Bengal", and added:
"Fulfilment of this horrid dream would spell disaster for the country
and turn the people of East Pakistan into slaves".
("Dawn", Karachi, March 17th. 1966).
20th, at a session of the Council of the Conventionist
Moslem League in Dacca. he put forward blatantly the course
which the "Karachi" clique would adopt in the event of serious danger of
the six-point programme being put into effect:
"We should be prepared to face even a civil war, if forced upon us
to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country (i.e., to maintain
the semi-colonial status of East Pakistan - Ed.)
("Dawn", Karachi; March 21st, 1966).
1966 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was
arrested, and in June an official ban was placed on any mention in the
press of the six-point programme.
The Effect of the Sino-U.S.
the counter-revolutionary "cultural revolution" in China and the
establishment of the military dictatorship of the Chinese national capitalists,
a rapprochement began to develop between the Chinese rulers and the U.S.
imperialists. This ended the possibility of the Ayub regime being able
any longer to use the threat of closer relations with China as a means
of putting pressure upon Washington.
Faced with the fact of the relative decline in the economic power of U.S.
imperialism in the 1960s, the U.S. imperialists proceeded to take advantage
of the above development, calculating that the dependence of the "Karachi"
clique could now be purchased more cheaply than hitherto.
In April 1967 the U.S. State Department announced the cessation of
military "aid" to Pakistan, although restrictions on the sale of most
types of U.S. weapons to Pakistan were lifted. U.S. President Nixon
put this new attitude into International perspective when he said in Guam
in July 1969:
1969, as has been said, he visited Pakistan for talks with Ayub's successor
as President, General Yahya Khan.
"As far as the problems of international security and military defence
are concerned, ... the U.S. has a right to expect that this problem will
be increasingly handled by, and the responsibility for it assumed by, the
Asian nations themselves."
Pakistan, in this new situation, continued to develop closer relations
1967 the $60 million loan granted to Pakistan by China in February 1965
was increased to nearly $ 67 million.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement
beginning of 1967 the disqualification from political activity imposed
on many opposition politicians under Elective Bodies (Disqualification)
Ordinance (EBDO) expired.
In Septem ber 1968 a highway connecting the Chinese province of Sinkiang
with West Pakistan was opened, followed by a second all-weather road, the
Karakoram highway, in February 1971.
In December 1968 an agreement on economic and cultural cooperation
between China and Pakistan was signed, providing for a further interest-free
loan to Pakistan of Pounds Sterling PS17.6 million.
In November 1970 President Yahya Khan paid
an official visit to China, during which an agreement between the two countries
on economic and cultural cooperation was signed.
In the new situation of developing Sino-U.S. rapprochement, there was now
only one Power in relation to which the threat of closer relations could
be used by the Ayub regime as a means of pressure on Washington - the Soviet
Union. In September /October 1967 President Ayub
Khan paid an official visit to the U.S.S.R., and in April
1968 Soviet Prime Minister Kosygin paid
an official visit to Pakistan.
As a result of these exchanges, in May 1968 Pakistan Foreign
Minister Arshad Hussain told the National Assembly that,
the Pakistan government had served notice on the U.S. government to close
its aerial espionage base at Peshawar (from which Gary
Powers had taken off in his ill-fated U2 in May 1960). Following
this gesture towards the Soviet government, a Pakistan military mission
headed by General Yahya Khan,
commander-in-chief of the army (and soon to replace Ayub as President)
visited Moscow and signed an agreement for the supply of limited quantities
of Soviet arms to Pakistan.
In May 1967 those opposition parties which stood for participation in the
machinery of "Basic Democracy" controlled by the military dictatorship
combined to form a new "united front" to replace the now disintegrated
Combined Opposition Party of the 1965 "elections". This was the Pakistan
Democratic Movement (PDM), composed of the Council
Moslem League, the Nizam-e-Islam Party, the Jamaat-i Islami Party and the
remnants of the National Democratic Front.
process of formation of the PDM led, however, to a further split in
the Awami League. While the main forces of the party stood firm on
the six-point programme and the principle of extra constitutional mass
action put forward by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,
a minority, headed by Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan,
favoured modifying the six-points to make them acceptable to the other
opposition parties and joining with these in seeking to work within the
framework of "Basic Democracy". This minority broke away from the Awami
League proper to join the PDM.
main points in the Pakistan Democratic Movement's 8-point programme related
to the restoration of "parliamentary democracy", but it made some attempt
to win support in East Pakistan away from the Awami League by calling for
limited autonomy for the province and for parity between the wings in the
civil service and armed forces.
"an organisation of feudalists and capitalists".
The National Awami Party, that "leftist"
front for the military dictatorship, attacked the Pakistan Democratic
("Pakistan Times", May 23rd, 1967).
The Splits in the Communist
and National Awami Part
split within the international communist movement between right Revisionists
on the one hand, and "left" revisionists and Marxist-Leninists on the other,
was reflected in December 1966 in a split in the underground Communist
Party of Pakistan (CPP).
A section of the C.P.P. broke away to form a rival Communist Party which
at first adhered to the on the whole Marxist-Leninist line put forward
by the Communist Party of China in 1962-1966.
By this time, however, the counter-revolutionary "cultural revolution"
in China was eliminating Marxist-Leninists from leading positions and establishing
a military dictatorship on behalf of the Chinese national capitalist class.
The new Communist Party in Pakistan, however, continued to follow the leadership
of Peking and quickly degenerated into a "left" revisionist party.
"Communists" continued to make the National
Awami Party a principal field of their activity. The split
in the underground Communist Party
therefore precipitated a split in the National
Awami Party the grounds for which had been laid over some
years by the dissatisfaction of its landlord members in the former North-West
Frontier Province and Baluchistan with the party's support of the " Karachi
" clique Is milita ry dictatorship and its pro-U. S. imperialist foreign
In the spring of 1967, therefore, a section of the National Awami Party,
headed by Khan Abdul Wali Khan,
(the son of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan)
broke away to form a new party under the same name serving the interests
specifically of the landlords of N.W.F.P. and Baluchistan, who looked to
dependence on the Soviet imperialists for their liberation from the dominant
"Karachi" clique. The right revisionists, who looked to Moscow for their
inspiration, naturally joined the breakaway N.A.P. headed by Wali Khan,
and "Communist" Professor Mozaffar Ahmed became
one of the leading figures in the "right" N.A.P.
The Maoists, on the other hand,
remained within the original N.A.P. machine, which continued to be led
by Bhashani and to function
as a "leftist" instrument of the military dictatorship. As Tariq
"Owing to the Pakistani-Chinese rapport, the pro-Peking section of
the N.A.P., headed by Maulana Bhashani, had virtually ceased opposing the
government of President Ayub Khan both in East and West Pakistan."
(Tariq Ali: "Pakistan: Military Rule or People's Power?"; London; 1970;
role of the "left" N.A.P. was
greatly assisted by the official propaganda from Peking where the "left"
revisionists, headed by Mao Tse-tung,
were now, as the "cultural revolution" developed, free to expand China's
previous diplomatic support for Pakistan at state level to open political
support for the Ayub military dictatorship.
Speaking at Lyallpuk in October 1966, the leader of a Chinese "labour"
delegation, Wang Chieh, was
reported as saying that:
"Pakistan had made impressive progress during a short span of time,
and its achievements in various fields of national economy promised a bright
future for the people. He added that a strong and prosperous Pakistan would
play an important role in stabilising peace in Asia. The Chinese trade
union leader said that during his tour of Pakistan he noted that the workers
were imbibed (sic) with a spirit of self-reliance and were determined to
strengthen the economy of their country."
("Pakistan Times"; October 31st, 1966).
leader of a Chinese trade delegation, Chia
Shih, made similar remarks in the reply to an address of
welcome at a lunch arranged by the Pakistan
Chamber of Commerce and Industry in October 1967:
"Under the inspiring leadership of President Ayub, Pakistan has made
a remarkable progress in the industrial and agricultural sectors, and the
day is not far off when Pakistan will achieve complete economic independence."
("Pakistan Times", October 29th, 11967).
while the military dictatorship was, in November 1968, shooting down demonstrating
students in the streets of Rawalpindi, General
Huang Yung-sheng Chief of Staff of the Chinese People's
Liberation Army, was saying at a banquet in honour of the visiting
Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan army, General
"Friendship and cooperation between our two countries have been growing
constantly over the last few years and there has been increasingly friendly
contacts between the armed forces of our two countries. ...
In recent years the Pakistani people, under the leadership of
President Ayub Khan, have fought unremittingly to safeguard national independence".
("Pakistan Times"; November 10th, 1968).
The People's Party
been said, the Tashkent Agreement of January
1966 had been followed by outspoken opposition and demonstrations
against the regime in West Pakistan:
"West Pakistan's reaction to the Tashkent agreement was violently
("The Economist", January 22nd, 1966; p.296).
had convinced Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,
Foreign Minister in the Ayub regime, that the national capitalists of West
Pakistan, frustrated by the subservience of the " Karachi "landlord /comprador
bourgeois clique to US imperialism, was beginning to stir politically and
that this was the class with which the political future of an ambitious
politician lay. Accordingly, in June 1966, Bhutto
(who had been a Minister in Ayub's Cabinet continuously since the military
coup of October 1958) had withdrawn from the Cabinet "for health reasons".
Soon Bhutto became an outspoken
critic of the military dictatorship and of its "betrayal of the national
interest" at Tashkent. After an extensive speaking tour of the country,
he founded in November 1967 a new party, the
People' Party. This was a social-democratic party, claiming
to stand for the restoration of "parliamentary democracy" (as the
road to "Islamic socialism"), for nationalisation of foreign-owned and
monopolistic enterprises, and for the breaking away from dependence on
US imperialism to pursue an independent foreign policy.
People's Party was thus a political party which objectively represented
the interests of the West Pakistan national capitalists but which directed
its appeal also towards the petty bourgeoisie and working class.
The "Agartala Conspiracy"
or The "Islamabad Conspiracy Case"
its offensive against the leaders of the Awami League, in January 1968
the government announced the discovery of a new "conspiracy". It was alleged
that a number of Bengali army officers and civil servants had met agents
of the Indian secret service at Agartala in India to plot to bring about
the secession of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,
the leader of the Awami League, already in detention, was named as one
of the conspirators.
In June 1968 the case of the State versus Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman and 28 other defendants began before a special
tribunal in Dacca. The case was officially called the "Agartala Conspiracy
Case" , but Rhaman always referred
to it as the "Islamabad Conspiracy Case", as
"that is where the conspiracy was hatched".
trumped-up nature of the case was fully exposed when the second witness
for the prosecution, one Kamaluddin Ahmad,
broke down in court, admitting that his evidence had been completely false
and that he had testified falsely only after prolonged torture by intelligence
officers of the military dictatorship.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, giving
evidence in January 1969, said that neither he nor the Awami League stood
for the secession of East Pakistan, but for its autonomy within the Pakistan
The Upsurge Begins
defection of Bhutto from the
Ayub regime and the formation of the People's
Party released a great explosion of popular anger in West
Pakistan towards the end of 1968.
The upsurge began on November 7th, in the capital Rawalpindi, where students
organised a demonstration in support of Bhutto,
who was visiting the city. The police opened fire on the demonstration,
killing a student, and the government then closed down all colleges in
On November 10th, 1968 a student fired two shots during a meeting addressed
by Ayub in Peshawar.
On November 13th Bhutto, Chairman
of the People's Party, was arrested for "inciting the masses, particularly
students, to violate the law and create disorder", together with Wali
Khan, President of the "right"
National Awami Party.
The three opposition leaders who stood for extra-constitutional political
action - Rahmart, Bhutto and Wali Khan
- having been detained, on November 26th, and also believing that the students
had been sufficiently intimidated, the government reopened the Rawalpindi
colleges. But the students reassembled and issued a call to the workers
for a general strike. The response was almost total, and students and workers
began to fight back with sticks and stones against police violence.
By the beginning of December 1968 this spontaneous upsurge had spread to
East Pakistan also.
The Operation to Save the
On February 14th, 1969, the London "Times" wrote:
"With the entry of the working class into the revolt, hitherto limited
to the students and political parties, observers are beginning to doubt
whether the government or the opposition can control the forces unleashed
the political representatives of the "Karachi" clique had seen this danger
to their rule at the beginning of December 1968. Realising that their apparatus
of repression was no longer adequate to contain this spontaneous popular
upsurge against their hated military regime, they proceeded to mount an
astute series of political manoeuvres, which took the following form:
Manoeuvre 1: To draw the Awami
League and the "right" National Awami Party (the leadership
of which could transform the spontaneous popular upsurge into an organised
revolutionary national-democratic movement) into a "united front" with
the constitutional opposition parties:
constitutional opposition leaders were already combined in the Pakistan
Democratic Movement (PDM). At the beginning of January 1969
the National Executive of the P.D.M. resolved to boycott the elections,
to endorse "in principle" the sixpoint programme of the Awami
League, and to build a mass movement. They then approached
the Awami League and the "right" National Awami
Party with the proposal to establish a "united front" on this
basis. As a result of the acceptance of this proposal, the Democratic
Action Committee was set up, with a nine-point programme
" political leaders involved were found principally in the leadership
of four organisations:
1) Repeal of the University Ordinances (banning students from political
2) Restoration of "parliamentary democracy" and direct elections on
the basis of universal adult suffrage.
3) Freedom of the press from state censorship;
4) Full autonomy for East Pakistan;
5) Establishment of a sub-federation for West Pakistan, giving full
autonomy to North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan;
6) Nationalisation of the banks, insurance companies and large industrial
7) Immediate ending of the state of emergency, restoration of the right
8) Release of all political prisoners and abandonment of the "Agartala
Conspiracy Case", and
9) An independent foreign policy, including withdrawal from SEATO and
Manoeuvre 2: To utilise
"leftist" political leaders to divert the mass movement from the objective
of overthrowing the military dictatorship of the "Karachi" clique.
1) The "left" National Awami Party,
headed by Maulana Bhashani;
Pakistan, these "leftist" leaders strove to divert the mass movement
for the overthrow of the military dictatorship of the "Karachi" clique
along the lines of a demand merely for the removal of Ayub Khan:
2) The "East Pakistan Students' Union (leftist)",
formed as a breakaway organisation from the East Pakistan Students' Union
in 1965 and headed by Maoist Rashed Khan Menon:
it was this organisation which invited Tariq
Ali to come to Pakistan to "lead the movement";
3) The "East Pakistan Workers' Federation"
(EPWF), a "leftist" breakaway organisation from the East
Pakistan Federation of Labour, headed by Siraju
Hossan (who had been released from prison in December 1967).
4) a section of the student movement in West Pakistan, most influential
in Rawalpindi, headed by Raja Anwar.
"Throughout Pakistan the fires still raged, but the student movement
made no effort to coordinate, to set up a province-wide organisation. ....
Pakistan, where political consciousness was on the whole higher than in
West Pakistan, these "leftist" leaders strove to disrupt the mass
movement for the overthrow of the military dictatorship of the "Karachi"
clique by means of the trotskyite slogans of "Socialism Now".
Not a single comprehensive programme containing the demands of the
students, movement of West Pakistan ever appeared ....
It seemed that since the chief object of hatred was Ayub, and since
his removal had become the main demand, the students felt that there was
no need for ideological clarity on their part. ..
Their (i.e., the West Pakistan students' ... Ed.) main demand now became
that Ayub should quit. They were unclear as to the alternative, and preferred
not to talk about it." (Tariq Ali: "Pakistan- Military Rule or People's
Power?" London; 1970; p.196).
"The Left (i.e., the "leftist" leaders of the student movement in
East Pakistan Ed.) argued that this struggle (i.e., the national-democratic
struggle Ed.) ... must be viewed as part of the struggle for socialism.
The Right (i.e., those who did not support the above "leftist" line --
Ed.) argued that this was the first stage .... The right-wing argument
was a typical Menshevik /social -democratic analysis of the situation.
It could only lead to right-wing deviations. ....
the first stage of the development of spontaneous student militancy in
November 1968, the "left" National Awami Party
had remained inactive.
The E.P.S.U. (leftists)
were forced to struggle against the political position of ... the E.P.S.U.
In East Pakistan ... a Student Action Committee had been established
and its leaders had adopted an eleven-point programme of demands which
was anti-capitalist in content."
(Tariq Ali; Ibid. p.180,181-, 197).
Manoeuvre 3: To make such concessions
to the Democratic Action Committee as would enable the constitutional opposition
leaders to press the genuine extra-constitutional leaders represented on
the Committee into acceptance of negotiations with the military dictatorship.
February Ist, 1969 President Ayub Khan, in
a broadcast, invited "responsible political leaders" to meet him for talks
on the country's future.
Manoeuvre 4: To organise, with
the objective assistance of the "leftist" political leaders, widespread
acts of terrorism unchecked by the state, in order to frighten the national
bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie into accepting a compromise settlement
at the Round Table Conference which would save the political power of the
"Karachi" clique under Martial Law, at the cost of replacing Ayub
Khan as President by the commander -in -chief of the army and
the promise to restore "parliamentary democracy"
The Democratic Action
Committee replied that they
were willing to meet the President if some preliminary concessions to their
demands were made as a gesture of good faith.
On February 12th censorship of the press was abolished. On February 14th,
it was announced that the state of emergency in force since 1965 would
end on February 17th, and that all persons detained under the emergency
regulations would be released. On February 20th the urban curfew was ended.
On February 21st Ayub announced that he would not contest the next Presidential
"election". On February 22nd the "Agartala conspiracy case" was dropped,
and all the defendants, including Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman, were released.
This series of concessions had barely commenced when, on February 16th,
the D.A.C. accepted Ayub's invitation for talks. After a preliminary meeting
a Round Table Conference with the President was fixed to open on March
"The pro-Peking N.A.P. had remained aloof from the struggle in West
Pakistan for a whole month. ....
in the first week in December 1968, the leaders of the "left" N.A.P.
suddenly became outspoken opponents of Ayub. Maulana
Bhashani began to tour the country, making inflammatory
speeches about blood and fire.
The Left faction of the N.A.P. in West Pakistan contained all the pro-Peking
Communists in West Pakistan and many of these were in leading positions
in the party. Their attitude towards the upsurge was initially one of hostility."
(Tariq Ali: "Pakistan, Military Rule or People's Power?" London; p.
"Only Bhashani was able to keep up with the rapidly developing radical
was against this background that the constitutional opposition leaders
within the Democratic Action Committee
repudiated the agreement on which the Committee had been set up, aided
by Bhutto and Bhashani,
who had been brought into the Round Table Conference by the President.
Maulana Bhashani called
a funeral meeting on Sunday, February 16th, 1969. It was at this meeting
that the eighty-six year old peasant leader ended his oration with the
call "Bangla Jago, agun jelo' (Bengalis awake and light the fires). No
sooner had the Maulana said these words than smoke was seen rising from
the city centre. ...
The leadership of the left N.A.P. was meeting at
a house in Eskaton. The old Maulana was pacing up and down in the garden,
... weeping as he heard the sound of machine-gun fire - the other 'leaders'
were debating how to escape if the army should raid the house. At one stage,
workers ran to the house and asked Bhashani for guns to use against the
army, but .... none were made available. ....
At this crucial moment, Maulana
Bhashani left his political base in East Pakistan and embarked
on a tour of the western province. In West Pakistan he visited three cities
and made extremely inflammatory speeches, which caused his enemies to say
that he was acting in league with the army and deliberately exacerbating
the situation to provide an excuse for Martial Law. ......
The army had quite clearly made up its mind to 'save
the nation' once again. ... They obviously used some of Bhashani's statements
to scare the West Pakistani middle class".
(Tariq Ali: ibid. p.176,207,208,214).
The military dictatorship gave the "leftist" leaders every assistance
"The students .... virtually controlled Dacca.....
Numerous acts of violence occurred in the towns. ....
The state of anarchy was most intense in the villages. ....
The provincial and local authorities .... made little attempt to maintain
... Police patrols in Dacca were, on March 19th reported to have been
completely absent from the streets of the city for a whole fortnight, and
village police .... were said to be remaining in their barracks in many
parts of the province. ....
Leaders of the Opposition political parties alleged that the authorities
were permitting and even encouraging the disorders to provide a pretext
for imposing martial law." ("Keesings Contemporary Archives", p.23354-55).
On March 10th, 1969 the Convenor of the Committee, Awami League renegade
Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, put
forward to Ayub Khan two
demands on which the political leaders represented at the Conference
now agreed: the restoration of "parliamentary democracy" and the election
of a National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies by direct vote on the
basis of universal adult suffrage.
Three days later, Ayub Khan
"accepted" these two demands.
On March 25th, 1969, in a broadcast, Ayub
declared that he had refused to accept the demand for full regional autonomy
for East Pakistan "because the opposition leaders were not agreed on this
demand" and because
".. . the acceptance of this demand would have spelled the liquidation
of Pakistan. I have always told you that Pakistan's salvation, lay in a
strong Centre. I accepted the parliamentary system because in this way
also there was a possibility of preserving a strong Centre. ...
Khan's resignation announcement was followed by a proclamation
from General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan,
in which he declared Martial Law and assumed the position of Chief Martial
Law Administrator, saying:
It is impossible for me to preside over the destruction or our country."
Speaking of the "fast deteriorating situation in the country", Ayub
"The situation is no longer under the control of the Government. ...
Every problem of the country is being decided in the streets. Except
for the armed forces there is no constitutional and effective way to meet
the situation. The whole nation demands that General
Yahya Khan, the Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army,
should fulfil his constitutional responsibilities. ...
In view of this, I have decided to relinquish today the office of President."
"My sole aim in imposing martial law is to protect the lives, liberty
and property of the people and to put the Administration back on the rails,
the various Martial Law regulations issued, "mutiny, rebellion or rioting"
were punishable by death, participation in strikes, including student strikes,
and the spreading of reports "liable to create alarm or despondency" by
14 years, imprisonment, the holding of political meetings without permission
by 7 years' imprisonment.
I have no ambition other than the creation of conditions conducive
to the establishment of a constitutional govepnment. It is my firm belief
that a sound, clean and honest Administration is a prerequisite for the
smooth transfer of power to the representatives of the people elected freely
and impartially on the basis of adult franchise. It will be the task of
these elected representatives to give the country a workable Constitution."
Awami League had meanwhile withdrawn
from the Democratic Action Committee
in protest against the betrayal of the agreement upon which it had entered
the Committee, and on the evening of the day on which Martial Law was declared,
the Committee dissolved itself on the grounds that ".... its
basic objectives have been achieved".
1969 President Yahya Khan appointed
a 7-man civilian cabinet.
Simultaneously, the "leftist" leaders - their "basic objectives" having
also been achieved - immediately called off their campaign of incitement.
On March 31st 1969, General Yahya Khan
assumed the post of President.
In the "Black Dwarf" of April 18th, 1969, Tariq
In November 1969, in a broadcast, President Yahya Khan announced that a
General Election would be held on October 5th, 1970 for a new National
Assembly which would formulate a new Constitution, and that permission
would be gjven for "Political activity" from January 1st, 1970.
the same month the Industrial Relations Ordinance restored freedom
of trade union association for workers and the right to strike.
The restricted nature of the "political activity" to be permitted was revealed
in a regulation issued in December 1969: in this rules were laid down for
the conduct of political parties, and its most important provision read:
"No political party shall propagate opinions or act in a manner prejudicial
to the ideology, integrity or security of Pakistan".
In March 1970
the Legal Framework Ordinance was promulgated.
By this Pakistan would once more be known as "The
Islamic Republic of Paki.2tan", and the new National Assembly
would consist of 300 seats, plus 13 reserved for women (the latter elected
The "Karachi" clique now decided that - with the "Punjabi" landlord clique
challenged politically by the West Pakistan national capitalists (represented
by the People's Party) and by
the landlords of the former North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan
(represented politically by the "right" National
Awami Party) - their own position was strong enough to cancel
the concession made to the "Punjabi", landlord clique in the shape of "One
Unit", and to reduce the political influence of this clique by dismembering
West Pakistan into separate provinces. In April 1970, therefore, a
Presidential ordinance divided West Pakistan into the four separate
provinces of the Punjab, Sind, the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan.
August 1970 President Yahya Khan postponed
the General election for two months, until December 7th, 1970.
The 1970 General Election
1970 the General Election for a new National Assembly took place
- the first General Election with adult suffrage in the twenty-three years
of Pakistan's existence.
The two key political parties contesting the election were the People's
Party, led by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,
representing the interests of the national capitalists of West Pakistan
and the Awami League, led by
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, representing
the interests of the national capitalists of East Pakistan.
Because of the similar class interests which they represented, the programmes
of these two parties were similar in many respects. Both stood for
the nationalisation of banking and key industries, the development of cooperative
farming, and an independent foreign policy, including the withdrawal of
Pakistan from the SEATO and CENTO pacts.
But the two parties differed on one important issue. The Awami
League took its stand on Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman's six points, that is, for full political
and economic autonomy for East Pakistan, now amplified to embrace control
over its own foreign trade. But the national capitalists of West Pakistan,
while wishing to win power from the "Karachi" landlord / comprador bourgeois
clique, were at one with the "Karachi" clique in seeking to maintain -
for their own benefit - the semi-colonial status of East Pakistan as the
basis for their own national capitalism: thus the People's
Party stood for "a strong Central Government" with only
very limited autonomy for East Pakistan.
The "Karachi" clique had calculated that in the existing political circumstances
in Pakistan, the General Election would produce a National Assembly in
which no party would have a majority. Thus, any government which could
command the confidence of the Assembly would have to be a coalition government,
giving the "Karachi" clique the opportunity - through their nominee, President
Yahya Khan, and their own political
party, the Conventionist Moslem League -
to play off one party against another, to make and break governments, just
as their previous nominee, President Mirza,
and their previous political party, the Republican
Party, had done so astutely,
only party which could theoretically win a majority of seats in the National
Assembly was the Awami League,
but the opponents of the Awami League needed to obtain only 12 out
of the 162 seats in Sast Pakistan to prevent this.
It was calculated that, when the Awami League
was challenged by the Conventionist Moslem
Pakistan Democratic Party (representing the "Bengali" landlord
/comprador bourgeois clique), and various religious parties - with women
voting for the first time - [the "Karachi" clique anticipated that
these would poll well in East Pakistan] there could be no reasonable doubt
that 12 of the 519 candidates standing against the Awami
League would be elected.
The result of the General Election was, however, not as the "Karachi"
clique, had expected.
The "President's Party", the Conventionist
Moslem League, won only 2 seats in the whole country, none
at all in East Pakistan. The Pakistan Democratic
Party won one seat only, in East Pakistan, where its leader,
Nurul Amin, was elected. The
religious parties won no seats whatever in East Pakistan. The result was
that the Awami League won 160
seats out of the 162 seats in East Pakistan.
In West Pakistan, the People's Party
did somewhat better than had been anticipated. It won a majority in the
Punjab and in Sind, but its total was only 87 out of a total of 313 seats
in the Assembly.
shock of the election for the "Karachi" clique was that the Awami
League, with 162 seats in a House of 313, had an absolute majority
in the National Assembly and so, constitutionally, could frame a new Constitution
along the lines of the six-point programme - that is, along lines unacceptable
in principle both to the ruling "Karachi" clique and to the national capitalists
of West Pakistan.
events which followed demonstrated the Marxist-Leninist truth that "parliamentary
democracy" is never anything more than a false facade hiding the real face
of the State as an apparatus of coercion.
Preparations for the Military
Attack upon East Pakistan
3rd, 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,
leader of the Awami League,
addressing a crowd in Dacca estimated at 2 million, said that the future
Constitution would be drafted in accordance with the six point programme
of the Awami League.
On February 17th, 1971, however, Zulfiqar Ali
Bhutto leader of the People's
Party, announced that his Partv would not participate
in the new National Assembly, in view of the fact that the Awami
League held a majority of the seats.
a press conference on February 24th, Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman said that the opponents of the Awami, League
were concerned, not with maintaining the territorial integilty of Pakistan,
which was not at issue, but with maintaining the semi-colonial status
of East Pakistan, so that it could continue to be exploited by vested
interests in the West. These "dark, conspiratorial forces", he warned,
were now engaged in "a last, desperate bid" to frustrate the adoption of
a Constitution by the elected represeritatives of the people, and it was
this attack on democracy which was threatening the territorial integrity
of Pakistan and destroying the last opportunity for the peoples of Pakistan
to live together within one State.
On March Ist, 1971 President Yahya Khan
postponed indefinitely the session of the new National-Assembly,
which was due to open on March 3rd, on the grounds that, without the participation
of the People's Party, the Assem
bly could not be "representative".
On the following day, a general strike began in East Pakistan, called
by the Awami League and embracing
all sections of workers.
On March 6th, President Yahya Khan declared
in a broadcast:
"Let me make it absolutely clear that, no matter what happens, as
long as I am in command of the Pakistan armed forces and Head of State,
I will ensure the complete and absolute integrity of Pakistan".
15th, in the third week of the total general strike in East Pakistan, President
Yahya Khan arrived in Dacca for "negotiations" with
the leaders of the Awami League
in which he was later joined by Bhutto.
While Yahya Khan was pretending
to "negotiate" with the Awami League leaders, troops were being poured
into East Pakistan by sea and air.
On March 25th, when these military preparations had been completed, Yahya
Khan abruptly broke off the "negotiations" and returned
to West Pakistan the following day.
Immediately on arriving back in West Pakistan, Yahya
Khan promulgated ordinances banning the Awami
League (which he denounced as a party of "traitors"),
prohibiting strikes and all political activity throughout the country,
and imposing complete press censorship, together with an indefinite curfew
in East Pakistan.
He then announced that the Pakistan Army had been instructed to "re-establish
the authority of the Government in East Pakistan."
initial offensive of the Pakistan Army against the people of East Bengal
lasted three weeks. Its aims were to exterminate actual or potential
opponents of the "Karachi" Cliique's mililitary dictatorship, to re-establish
the authority of the dictatorship and to intimidate the population at large
into acceptance of this authority.
In an attempt to prevent the extreme brutality of the operation from becorning
known to the outside world, 35 foreign journalists who were in East Pakistan
when the offensive began were detained in the Intercontinental Hotel in
Dacca for 48 hours and then deported, after all film and documents in their
possession had been confiscated. However, two foreign correspondents escaped
the round-up and deportation: Simon Dring,
a "Daily Telegraph" correspondent, and Michel
Laurent, an Associated Press photographer. They managed
to make an extensive tour of Dacca before sending reports from outside
Dring's despatch, published in the "Daily Telegraph" of March 29th, described
Dacca as "a crushed and frightened city" after "24 hours of ruthless shelling
by the Pakistan army". He estimated that more than 75,000 East Bengalis,
had been killed - more than 7,000 in Dacca alone, where the first target
had been the university where 200 students had been butchered outright
in the students' union headquarters:
"Troops had occupied the university ... arid were busy killing off
students still in hiding".
second target of the troops had been the densely populated old city, where
700 men, women and children liad been killed and the greater part razed
to the ground:
"Fires were burning all over the city".
account was confirmed in all essentials by a despatch from Laurent, published
in "The Times" of March 30th.
Three months later the report of a World Bank mission headed by Peter
Cargill, director of the Bank's South Asia Department, described:
"... a continuing reign of terror in the East Wing conducted by some
70,000 West Pakistan troops statioined there. The army has been given a
free hand to deal with 'secessionists'. Any Hindu or member of the Awami
League is said to fall under this heading. ...
Prentice, MP, a member of the British parliamentary delegation
which visited both East and West Pakistan about the same tirne, wrote:
The mission found towns with only 10% of the population remaining.
The rest had been killed, dispersed to India or fled to villages. Troops
had shelled and destroyed public buildings. Bazaars and commercial life
were at a standstill."
("The Guardian"; June 28th, 1971; p.3).
"In East Pakistan there is bound to be continuing repression, using
the most brutal methods, simply because this is the only way in which a
few thousand troops can maintain power over 70 million hostile people."
"Sunday Times" correspondent
Murray Sayle, describes the
regime imposed by the Pakistan Army in East Bengal as:
(R. Prentice: "The Repression in Bengal", in "Sunday Times"; July 11th,
1971; P. 10).
"a regime of paid informers, bigots and thugs answerable to no one
and apparently above whatever law is left in East Pakistan".
picture is confirmed by all reliable sources. By September 1971 some 10
million refugees had fled from East Bengal into India.
(M.Sayle: "A Regime of Thugs and Bigots", in "Sunday Times'", July
"There is an atmosphere of terror in East Pakistan. ...
There are now, according to the military authorities,
5,000 razakars (i.e., special constables - Ed,) in East Pakistan, .. They
are paid three rupees a day (about 25p at the official rate) and receive
seven days' training. .., Their work consists of 'security checks'
- guiding the West Pakistan troops to the homes of supporters of the Awami
These people are, in fact, representatives of the
political parties which were routed at the last elections, with an admixture
of men with criminal records and bigoted Muslims who have been persauded
that strong-arm methods are needed to protect their religion - a mixture
strangely reminiscent of the Orange Lodges, "B Specials", and political
terrorists of Northern Ireland. ....
A military directive states that complaints against
razakars are to be investigated by the military authorities. ....
It is clear that only a very brave or very foolish
refugee would even try to return as things are."
(M. Sayle, ibid.- p.11,13).
military offensive by the Pakistan Army against the people of East Bengal
made it clear that any prospect of obtaining full autonomy within a Pakistan
dominated by the military dictatorship of the "Karachi" landlord/ comprador
bourgeois clique was an illusion.
As the attack began, and just before his arrest by the occupying forces,
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, leader
of the Awami League, called
for the setting up of "the sovereign, independent Democratic Republic
of Bangladesh" (i.e., of the Bengali nation).
March 28th, a clandestine radio broadcast an Order of the Day by the Commander
-in- Chief of the Liberation Army of Bangladesh (called at first the Mukhti
Fauz, later the Mukhti Bahini,
Major Zia Khan, in which he declared:
12th, a six-member provisional government of Bangladesh was set up, with
Sheikh Muii~ur Rahman (now in
prison) as President, Syed Nazrul Isla , Vice-President
of the Awami League, as Vice-President and Tajuddin Ahmed as Prime Minister
and Foreign Minister.
On April 17th, 1971 the Democratic Republic of Bangladesh was formally
proclaimed at a ceremony, at Mujibnagar.
On April 18th, the Deputy High Commission in Calcutta, staffed predominantly
by Bengalis, declared its allegiance to the Democratic Republic of Bangladesh
and announced that its office would in future function as the diplomatic
mission of Bangladesh in India. Later a number of other Pakistan diplomats
switched their allegiance to Bangladesh.
The Liberation Army of Bangladesh then
began the first stage of its war of liberation against the Pakistan
military dictatorship in the shape of guerilla warfare, at the same time
training considerable numbers of guerilla fighters, principally from among
the refugees who crossed the border into India.
The Attitude of Foreign
attitude of foreign powers to the war of liberation of Bangladesh has been
dictated by the relations between the Pakistan military dictatorship
to these powers in the new world line-up which is in process of development
(see: "Report of the Central Committee of the MLOB on 'Centrist' Revisionism"
in RED FRONT; March 1970; Part 3- Alliance Editors:
This will be placed on web shortly).
As a member of the US-dominated bloc of states, the Pakistan government
has received the support of the United States imperialists and their ally,
the military dictatorship of the Chinese capitalist class.
Despite its claim to support national liberation movements everywhere,
the Chinese government, in particular, gave open and unreserved support
for the repressive actions of the Yahya Khan
dictatorship in East Bengal, repeating verbatim the propaganda put out
by that dictatorship.
While the Pakistan Army was still carrying on its initial offensive against
the people of East Bengal, Chinese Pr ime Minister
Chou En-lai sent on April 12th 1971, a message to Yahya
Khan expressing the full support of the Chinese government
for Yahya Khan's:
" ... useful work in upholding the unification of Pakistan and in
preventing it from moving towards a split. We believe that, through the
wise consultations and efforts of Your Excellency..... the situation in
Pakistan will certainly be returned to normal. ....
counter-revolutionary position of the Chinese government on this issue
gave rise to further rifts within the maoist parties and groups throughout
The Chinese government holds that what is happening in Pakistan at
present is purely the internal affair of Pakistan".
West Bengal, India, one section of the maoist "Communist
Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)", headed by Ashim
Chatterjee, called for guerilla attacks upon the liberation
army of Bangladesh, while another section of the party, headed by Charu
Mazumdar, advocated neutrality.
The maoist "Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)",
loyal to its Chinese backers, obediently supported the Peking counter-revolutionary
line, while the maoist "Irish Communist Organisation",
citing an article from "Peking Review", declared:
"The only meaning to be got from the article is that the people of
Pakistan are standing against foreign subversives who are trying
to break up the territorial state of Pakistan. But it is clear that the
actual situation is nothing remotely like this. . . . .
maoist "Finsbury Communist Association"
sneered at its fellow maoist gpopps for their confusion over the issue
of East Bengal:
The 'Peking Review' article bears no resemblance to the facts. It repeats
the propaganda of the West Pakistan Government, which is attempting to
hide the fact that it is trying to establish a naked dictatorship over
("Irish Communist". June 1971, P.5,8).
"Particular difficulties are posed for the various Maoist parties
and groups in England, The Communist Party of China has given them no lead
(Sic!). So are they to affirm solidarity of the British working class for
Pakistan based on 'the traditional friendship of the British and Pakistani
peoples' or for East Bengal based on 'the traditional friendship of the
British and Bengali peoples" ?"
body sought to dissociate itself from this "confusion" by dismissing the
war of liberation of Bangladesh as a "foreign matter" of no concern to
the British working class. The fundamental contempt which maoism has, in
reality, for the working class came for once to the surface when it declared:
("Finsbury Communist", July 1971; p.3).
'The English 'left' knows damn well that the working class is not
interested in international solidarity".
maoist "Working People's Party of England",
throwing overboard its pretence of being a "Marxist-Leninist organisation
speaking with a single voice" put forward two opposite viewpoints for its
supporters to choose from. Alex Hart and John
North sought to excuse the attitude of the Chinese government,
while Paul Noone and Michael Mouzouros
cried in pathetic despair:
"What of People's China? Why the support of butcher Yahya
Khan? Why the failure to support Bangladesh, and the people's
liberation fight? Some so-called Maoists in this country try to condemn
the Bengali people's struggle or belittle it. This is ludicrous opportunism.
On the other hand, the powers which are lining up in a bloc opposed
to that dominated by US imperialism supported the Bangladesh liberation
movement as a force tending to weaken the Pakistan state, a
member of the US dominated bloc.
In fact, People's China
has OFFICIALLY condemned Bangladesh, supported a 'united Pakistan', complimented
Yahya Khan on his action, and
allowed Pakistan to overfly Chinese territory with troop planes.
This is a tragic error. ....
This is a set-back for all revolutionaries who look to Mao
Tse-tung and the Communist Party
Of China for world leadership."
( "Worker's Broadsheet"; April /May 1971; p.10).
On March 31st 1971, the Indian Parliament adopted a resolution denouncing
the actions of the Pakistan Military dictatorship, and expressing support
for the Bangladesh liberation movement:
"This House records its profound conviction that the historic upsurge
will triumph of the 75 million people of East Bengal will tiumph. The Hoosue
wishes to assure them that their struggle and sacrifices will receive the
whole hearted sympathy and support of the people of India".
Soviet Union, as the leading power in the developing anti-US imperialist
bloc, naturally aligned itself with India in supporting the Bangladesh
(Text of Resolution of the Indian Parliament, March 31st, 1971, cited
L.M. Singhvi (Ed.) "Bangla Desh", Part 2; Delhi: 1971; p.103-104).
policy of the Indian government towards the Bangladesh liberation struggle
was dictated not only by the desire to weaen its tradtional enemy
Pakistan, but also by the fact that a part of the Bengali nation forms
an oppressed nation - West Bengal - within India. The presence
of Bangladesh freedom fighters and several million refugees from East Bengal
on Indian soil, the possibility of the emergence of Bangladesh as a genuinely
independent state as a result of the war of liberation, aroused the fear,
that these factors would stimulate Bengali nationalism within their own
It was all these factors which led the Indian government, in November 1971,
to order Indian armed forces to intervene actively "in support of the
Bangla-Desh liberation army", with the aim of securing the establishment
of a Bangla Desh which would be nominally "independent" but in reality
dependent upon India.
"The ideal solution in the opinion of some Indians would be to have
Bangladesh independent but bourgeois, and deeply dependent on India for
trade and defence." ("'The Observer"; August 8th; 1971: p.5).
advance of the Indian army in East Bengal was6 rapid and effective. On
December 14th, 1971, the East Pakistan government resigned, and two days
later President Yahya Khan accepted
the Indian terms of unconditional surrender.
in East Pakistan
collapse of the Pakistan army in the east led to a virtually bloodless
national-democratic revolution in the west. The dominant national bourgeoisie,
represented politically by the Pakistan People's
Party headed by Zulfiqar Bhutto
was able to oust the ruling comprador-bourgeois clique, headed by Yahya
Khan, and on December 20th, 1971, installed Bhutto
as President and Chief Martial Law Administrator in succession to Yahya
The new government released Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman from prison, the latter significantly flying to London
for talks with the British government before returning to Dacca.
On January 1st 1972, the Bhutto government confiscated the passports of
leading members of the comprador-bourgeoisie and ordered them to bring
home the large capital sums they held abroad. On the following day it announced
the nationalisation of key industries.
March 1972 the new government announced a land reform directed at "eradicating
the curse of feudalism". Ceilings for land ownership were reduced by 70%,
the excess to be made available to poor and landless peasants.
The remains of the artificial state of Pakistan was however, faced immediately
with internal dissension from the national bourgeoisies of North-West Frontier
Province and Baluchistan, who are supported by the Soviet imperialists.
In April 1972 martial law was abolished, and a new constitution brought
into force giving measures of autonomy to these areas.
12th, 1972, two days after his return to Bangladesh, Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman announced a provisional constitution
for the new state, setting up a "parliamentary democracy" based on cabinet
government. He promptly resigned as President and took over the position
of Prime Minister, together with the portfolios of Home Affairs,
Defence, Cabinet Affairs and Information, thus making himself the Minister
responsible for the army, the police and the paramilitary forces.
One of the first acts of the new government was to demand that the Mukhti
Bahini should surrender their arms to the state,
a demand which was only partially complied with.
By March 1972 the new state had been recognised by all major governments,
except for those of the United States and China. In April, Bangladesh joined
the British Commonwealth.
By March 1972 the last Indian troops had left the country, but the economic
plight of the country - most of its factories deserted by their West Pakistani
managements, its transportation system virtually destroyed - provided the
pretext for the government to call for foreign "aid". This was provided
in the first place by India and the Soviet Union, enabling these powers
to bring about at an early stage a measure of dependence of Bangladesh
on these powers.
scientific definition of the concept "nation" was put forward in 1913 by
"A nation is a historically constituted stable community of people
formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and
psychological make-up manifested in a common culture."
comes into being out of a pre-national community as a result of the development
of the capitalist mode of production:
(J.V.Stalin: "Marxism and the National Question", in: "Works", Vol.2;
"A nation is .... a historical category belonging to a definite
epoch, the epoch of rising capitalism".
multi -national state, nations which have been "pushed into the background"
are hindered from developing into independent national states by the ruling
strata - which are usually the ruling strata of the dominant nation or
Stalin: ibid, p 31.
"The nations which had been pushed into the background and had now
awakened to independent life, could no longer form themselves into independent
national states; they encountered on their path the very powerful resistance
of the ruling strata of the dominant nations, which had long ago assumed
control of the state."
the young oppressed nations are compelled to struggle for their independence:
(J.V. Stalin. ibid.p.315).
"Thus arose the circumstances which impelled the young nations ....
on to the path of struggle.
last two quotations cited above, Stalin is speaking specifically of the
multi-national states of Eastern Europe in the late 19th and, early 20th
centuries. But his description is equally valid for the multi-national
states of the Indian sub-continent in the mid-20th century.
The struggle began and flared up, to be sure, not
between nations as a whole but between the ruling classes of the dominant
nations and those that had been pushed into the background. ...
The bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation, repressed
on every hand, is naturally stirred into movement, ...
Thus the national movement begins.
The strength of the national movement is determined
by the degree to which the wide strata of the nation, the proletariat and
the peasantry, participate in it."
(J.V. Stalin: ibid.,. p.315, 317).
Marxist- Leninists hold, of course, that the Indian sub-continent is
inhabited not by a single "Indian nation", but by peoples of many different
"Today India is spoken of as a single whole. But there can scarcely
be any doubt that in the event of a revolutionary ueheaval in India (N.B.:
Stalin is speaking of India under British colonial rule - Ed.), scores
of hitherto unknown nationalities, having their own separate languages
and separate cultures, will appear on the scene."
the leadership of the Communist Party of India was still faithful to Marxist-Leninist
principles, this view of India as inhabited by peoples of many different
nationalities, some of them developing into nations, was accepted by the
party as a matter of course:
(J.V. Stalin: "The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples
of the East", May 1925 in "Works", Vol. 7; Moscow; 1954; p.141).
same time as the Communist Party of India was putting forward this Marxist-Leninist
analysis of the multi-national character of the Indian sub-continent, British
revisionist R. Palme Dutt was
"Every section of the Indian people which has a continuous territory
as its homeland, common historical tradition, common language, culture
and psychological make-up and common economic life would be recognised
as a distinct nationality with the right to exist as an autonomous state
within the free Indian union or federation, and will have the right to
secede from it if it may so desire. This means that the territories which
are homelands of such nationalities and which today are split by artificial
boundaries of the present British provinces and of the so-called 'Indian
states', would be reunited and restored to them in Free India. Thus Free
India of tomorrow would be a federation or union of autonomous states of
the various nationalities such as Pathans, ... Punjabis, ... Sindhis, Bengalis;
("On Pakistan and National Unity": Resolution adopted by the enlarged
Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India, September
"Can the diversified assembly of races and religions, with the barriers
and divisions of caste, of language and other differences, and with the
widely varying range of social and cultural levels, inhabiting the vast
sub-continental expanse of India, be considered a 'nation '?"
was answering the question in the affirmative, in terms acceptable to the
dominant section of the Hindu capitalists:
(R.P.Dutt: "A Guide to the Problem of India"; London; 1942 p.80),
"In the modern period the reality of the Indian nation can in practice
no longer be denied."
to this revisionist line, the Communist Party
of India, its leadership then still loyal to Marxist-Leninist
principles, recognised the existence of a single Bengali nation:
(R.P. Dutt: ibid.p.99).
"Our first formulation is that the Bengalis form a nation and so should
be given the right to self-determination. ... It is correct to say that
the Bengalis are a nation and Bengal should have its own separate state."
Bangladesh liberation movement must therefore be seen as the most developed
section of the national-liberation movement of the Bengali nation as a
whole, part of which is dominated by the Indian state.
(C. Adhikari: "Pakistan and National Unity", published by theCommunist
Party of India, 1943).
The Bangladesh national liberation movement must also be seen as the first
stage in a whole series of national-liberation movements that are developing
throughout the Indian sub-continent, movements in which the aim of
the national capitalists, who at present constitute the leading force in
these movements, is to redraw the existing state boundaries of the Indian
subcontinent along national lines, and secure the establishment of a number
of national capitalist states.
While the working class has an objective interest in supporting these national-liberation
movements, its interests are served not by the establishment of new national-capitalist
states on the Indian sub-continent, but by the establishment of a federation
of socialist states in which the exploitation of the working class has
been abolished and in which the working class is the ruling class.
The objective interests of the working class lie, therefore, in working
for the transformation of the these national -democratic revolutions
into socialist revolutions.
This transformation is possible only if the working class gains the
leadership of the national-democratic revolutions from the national capitalists,
and if the working class itself is led by a Marxist-Leninist Party which
has rid itself of all revisionist trends.
The formation of Marxist-Leninist
Parties of the working class in Pakistan and in India is thus an urgent
necessity for the working class.
Central Committee, Marxist-Leninist
Organisation of Britain;
Reprinted 2001 by Alliance.