With Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification as Pakistan’s Prime Minister by the country’s Supreme Court and his consequent resignation, Sharif joins the ranks of all his predecessors who failed to see their tenure till the end of its term.
Sharif was ordered to demit office by the top court over corruption charges in the Panama Papers case. He has been appointed as the Prime Minister twice before, and on both occasions, he has had to quit office in his third year – in 1993, his government was dissolved by the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan over charges of “corruption”, and in 1999, he was ousted by General Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup.
With his resignation over Panamagate, Sharif failed to break the jinx – no Pakistani Prime Minister has completed a full term in office since its formation in 1947.
Assassinations and the Rule of the Governor Generals
Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated four years and two months into his tenure. His successor, Khawaja Nazimuddin, was deposed by Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad, only 18 months after he attained office.
Governor General Muhammad stepped in again to depose Nazimmuddin’s successor Muhammad Ali Bogra in 1954. In the elections that followed, Bogra was reappointed as Prime Minister. He was finally deposed by the last Governor General and the first President of Pakistan, Iskander Mirza, a year later in 1955.
Bogra’s successor Chaudhry Muhammad Ali resigned from office even before completing a year in office, citing differences with Mirza, who was now President.
The First Outsider PM and the First Military Coup
Muhammad Ali’s successor, Awami League’s Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, also became the first non-Muslim League Prime Minister. In keeping with tradition, Mirza deposed Suhrawardy in October 1957, making it the third government that Mirza had dissolved.
Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar of the Muslim League came next and quit only two months into his tenure, again, citing differences with Mirza.
Chundrigar’s successor, Feroz Khan Noon remained popular with Mirza, until Ayub Khan carried out his famous military coup in 1958.
The Phase of Military Rules and No Prime Ministers
Immediately after the coup, Khan made himself interim Prime Minister for five days between 24 and 28 October 1958, and compelled Mirza to step down, before appointing himself President. The post of Prime Minister was subsequently abolished and the seat of authority rested with the President from here on.
From 1958 to 1973, Pakistan had no Prime Minister, save for a brief period when President (and military leader) Yahya Khan appointed Nurul Amin as his PM. After the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over as President. Two years later, in 1973, Pakistan adopted a new constitution adopting a parliamentary democracy, making Bhutto the Prime Minister.
In 1977, military general Muhammad Zia ul Haq carried out a military coup, deposing Bhutto and making himself the President.
The First Female PM
The next Prime Minister after Bhutto’s brief stint was Muhammad Khan Junejo in 1985, only to be deposed by President Haq after three years. After Haq’s death, Pakistan got its first female Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, whose government lasted only 20 months.
Between 1993 and 1999, Pakistan saw six Prime Ministers, including two unfinished tenures of Nawaz Sharif’s and one of Benazir Bhutto’s.
11 Years and Seven Prime Ministers
Between 2002 and 2013, Pakistan saw a rule of seven Prime Ministers, with Yousaf Raza Gillani’s tenure of four years and three months being the longest.
Sharif won the elections in 2013 with a thumping majority and returned to the office of Prime Minister for the third time, before resigning on Friday, after the Supreme Court’s verdict.
(We all love to express ourselves, but how often do we do it in our mother tongue? Here's your chance! This Independence Day, khul ke bol with BOL – Love your Bhasha. Sing, write, perform, spew poetry – whatever you like – in your mother tongue. Send us your BOL at email@example.com or WhatsApp it to 9910181818.)