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Fate of Pakistani Prime Ministers

By Hashim Qureshi

Full Bench of Pakistani Supreme Court has decreed Nawaz Sharif incapable of keeping the trust of people and hence disqualified him to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He has been disqualified even as member of Pakistan National Assembly. According to the constitution of Pakistan either a reference should have been made to both Houses of Parliament leading to no-confidence. This was not done and instead the case was processed by constituting a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to submit its finding to the Supreme Court. JIT comprised three members, two of who were military officers. Army knew that a reference to the Parliament would not succeed and as such it took a detour via Supreme Court and the JIT.  

A close study of the record of Pakistan Supreme Court’s decrees will show that instead of protecting civil society and democratic institutions, it has overtly and covertly supported undemocratic inclination. During the regime of General Ayub Khan, the Pakistani Supreme Court Chief Justice Munir Khan reflecting on a reference made by Miss Fatima Jinnah decreed that Ayub Khan had dispensed with the Constitution under the law of necessity.

During the regime of Ziau’l-Haq and Musharraf, the same Supreme Court of Pakistan decreed the dismissal of elected governments and the provisions of the 1973 Constitution under the precisely same pretext viz. L:aw of Necessity.  The 1973 Constitution, it was clearly said that anybody attempting to remove the government would be given death punishment.

One of the judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan that had pronounced the execution of Z.A. Bhutto was Justice Nasim Hassan Shah, who later on became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. After his retirement he said in a televised interview that in the Z.A Bhutto case they (Supreme Court) were under pressure and the judgment was delivered under pressure. There was resentment in Pakistan on the statement of Justice Nasim Hassan Shah and a senior Pakistani advocate had even filed a case of contempt of court in the Supreme Court. The case could not be processed because Justice Nasim Hassan Shah expired during that time.

Pakistan has seen four martial laws. General Ayub Khan stay put for ten years and was removed owing to public pressure. He handed power to General Yahya Khan, who ran the government for three and a half years during which he saw separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. He resigned. Then there happened the martial law administration of General Ziau’l Huq. He held power for ten years but was killed in an air crash. He had ordered execution of an elected Prime Minister. Then in the fourth martial law engineered by General Pervez Musharraf lasted ten years.

It has to be noted whenever Pakistan was brought under martial law, wars with India and Afghanistan were fought. In 1965, 1971 and 1999 (Kargil) there were wars with India. In 1979, there was war with Afghanistan. All these wars took place during the rule of dictators in Pakistan.

Let us examine the fate of Prime Ministers of Pakistan.

1.    Liaqat Ali remained Prime Minister for four years and then was assassinated. 

2.    Khawja  Nazimu’d-Din remained PM for two years and then was removed.

3.    Muhammad Ali Bogra had two stints of one year each as Prime Minister and both times he was removed from office.

4.    Chowdhury Muhammd Ali remained PM for one year and was shown the door.

5.    Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy remained PM for one year and was removed.

6.    Ismail Ahmd Chundrigar remained PM for two years and was removed.

7.    Feroz Khan Noon remained PM for ten months and was removed.

8.    Nurul Amin remained Prime Minister for 13 days and was removed.

9.    Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had first stint as PM for three years and seven months. His second stint continued for four months, then was removed and executed.

10. Muhammd Khan Junejo remained PM for two years and six months and was removed.

11. Benazir Bhutto became PM twice for two and half years of each term and was martyred.

12. Mian Nawaz Sharif remained PM for two terms with two and a half years of each term at the end of which he was removed and exiled. On return, he won the election and became Prime Minister but has now been removed after just more than three years.

13. Mir Zafar Jamali remained PM for a year and 9 months and was removed.

14. Showkat Aziz remained Prime Minster for three years. He proceeded abroad and was disallowed to return to Pakistan.

15. Yusuf Reza Gilliani remained PM for four years, was removed and is now facing cases in the courts. His son was kidnapped by Taliban.

16. Raja Peveiz Ashraf remained PM for eight months was removed and is now facing court cases.

17. Nawaz Sharif was inducted as PM for the third time but has been removed after more than three years through a court decree.

This sordid story clearly reveals that actual power remains concentrated in the hands of Pakistan army and civil establishment mostly dominated by retired army officers. Whenever the need they hook up the judiciary also. The record of the judiciary reveals its story forcefully. We believe that the right of removing an elected Prime Minister rests with the masses of the people through the instrumentality of elections or through a reference to the Parliament the elected house of law makers.

Political opponents of Nawaz Sharif, who are glorifying their success in getting Nawaz Sharif removed through a court order should bring to their mind the fate of the ex-Prime Ministers of Pakistan, 17 in all and listed above. We regret that democratic institutions in Pakistan have been paralyzed.

All this notwithstanding, we regret to note very antagonistic stance of Perez Musharrf the former Army Chief and dictator of Pakistan who has been repeatedly saying that Nawaz Sharif should be barred from leaving the country and a case should be filed against him. This is the same Pervez Musharraf who left the country on the pretext olf medical treatment and did not return despite the warrants by the government. What right has he to demand imposition of ban on Nawaz Sharif when Nawaz Sharif was an elected Prime Minister and he had grabbed power through the barrel of the tank. We also regret the role of Peoples Party in the case of removal of Nawaz Sharif. This party has forgotten the treatment meted out to it in the past by the army and the courts. It can be repeated at any time in the future.
Published in "Kashmir images" and other newspapers