Original Articles

Pakistan’s various governments and the approximate periods of their rule – by Kamran Shafi

Below, without comment a list of Pakistan’s various governments and the approximate periods of their rule, or misrule if you will. ‘Caretaker’ governments or those such as Mr Mohammad Khan Junejo’s, Mr Zafarullah Jamali’s and the Private Banker’s have been excluded from the list because army dictators ruled the roost then. The periods of dictatorships are in italics:

Liaquat Ali Khan: 1,500 days;
Khwaja Nazimuddin: 900 days;
Mohammad Ali Bogra: 840 days;
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy: 390 days;
I.I. Chundrigar: 60 days;
Malik Feroz Khan Noon: 300 days;
Iskandar Mirza, Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan: 4,745 days;
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: 2,205 days;
Ziaul Haq: 4,015 days;
Benazir Bhutto: 635 days;
Nawaz Sharif: 880 days;
Nawaz Sharif: 56 days;
Benazir Bhutto: 1,125 days;
Nawaz Sharif: 970 days;
Pervez Musharraf: 3,285 days;

and the present one (Zardari-Gilani) whose several obituaries have already been written: 720 days (until 25 January 2010).

Source: Dawn

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Abdul Nishapuri


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  • Saving the system

    Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani appeared confident when he brushed aside the notion of a clash of institutions, terming it “wishful thinking” while addressing a public gathering in Multan. His assertions need serious thinking by all involved in the imbroglio following the Supreme Court’s detailed judgment on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). The prime minister said that the government respected all state institutions and would ensure that they functioned within their constitutional ambit. He also warned that confrontation between state institutions “may lead to military dictatorship”. Pakistan’s history is replete with unfortunate examples of state institutions playing a collusive role in allowing military dictators to sustain their illegitimate rule once they usurped power unconstitutionally. Since the present democracy is fragile and far from consolidated, there are some sections opposed to the present government who are ready go to any extent to derail the system. When these elements saw that the government had weathered the NRO short order, they waited for the detailed judgment and are now again calling for their pound of flesh from the incumbent government. These elements would blow routine procedural matters such as appointment of judges out of proportion to try and create a rift between the government and the judiciary. They would welcome even a military intervention if only it could remove the president and the PPP government, disregarding the fact that it would be disastrous for the country. Therefore, the prime minister’s warnings against dictatorship are not out of place. In these circumstances, it is a message that should go out to all the state institutions to bear their part of responsibility and avoid being drawn into a confrontational mode. Democracy can function properly if state institution work with mutual respect and none of them poses itself as a ‘saviour’ of the nation, as has been the practice in the past, in order to destabilise the incumbent government.

    However, there is room for disagreement when the prime minister says that the PPP has “fulfilled all the promises” its leaders had made. Since this party came to power some 22 months back, it has initiated some programmes for poverty alleviation, which are at best a drop in the ocean. Apart from that, it has not made any significant achievement in implementing the Charter of Democracy (CoD), the legacy that the late PPP chairperson left behind. On assuming the reins of government, it was incumbent on the PPP, a party that rose from the masses and sustained itself on their aspirations, to translate those aspirations into reality. It has failed so far on that account. The poor of the country continue to suffer from poverty, lack of security, energy, adequate education and health infrastructure and basic amenities. Accepting the adverse impact of precarious security and an economic recession, one does not expect the government to generate the money needed for social sector and development expenditure overnight, but one does expect it to cut down on the excessive spending done on sustaining an army of ministers. Despite the government’s tall claims, poor governance has cast serious doubts on its ability to deliver. The prime minister had announced that his government would observe austerity measures to save resources for public spending. Two years on, austerity is nowhere to be seen, except in words. Good governance and delivery of services to the people is the first obligation of the government. Failure here paves the way for opponents and undemocratic forces to derail democracy. It is in the interests of the ruling party that while working on the continuity of the system, it give due attention to alleviating the problems ordinary people are facing in their daily lives to the extent possible in the current circumstances.


  • The naïve argument being advanced these days holds that if the President is declared ineligible by the Court or is pressurized to resign, there is no threat to the system. Well, the simple truth is that technical knock-outs have been all too common in our history. Military rulers since last 6 decades have held purges of politicians and corruption has been the most common of pretexts to oust elected representatives. Tomorrow if another elected ruler is thrown out of the office on technical grounds, this would belittle the essence of democracy and the spirit of our Constitution whereby sovereignty has been delegated to elected representatives.

    It should, therefore, be understood that if unconstitutional means used to oust the President then the system will soon head towards a collapse. It may not happen immediately but the instability arising out of the current mess will lead to another crash where a direct or indirect military rule will become a reality, once again. One is sure that our political parties do not want that. But they will have to make an effort to rescue the system and not be bystanders to the current scenario. They would have to shun double game at all. There is no other way Pakistan can be governed. We have had Chief Martial Law Administrators, Field Marshals, and Chief Executives and they all have not delivered on their trumpeted promises of eliminating corruption or strengthening national interest. Instead, we have become a weaker and vulnerable society. Pakistan is a federation and it has to be ruled through a political system that provides space for all — the excluded, marginalised and its myriad ethnic nationalities.

    If the political elites want to save the system and their present and future role in governance they will have to become active participants of the game. At this time political class need charter of democracy whereby they will agree that unelected institutions will not be allowed to derail the democratic system and finally a clear cut strategy to save the current democratic system at all costs above the party lines. Now if they continue to pull down Govt and continue targeting Zardari , we should should have to bid farewell to democracy and accept that this country is for military rulers, all they are incapable.