Will Political Instability Come To An End In Pakistan?

Mashal Rehman

Will Political Instability Come To An End In Pakistan?

What is Political Instability?

Political instability also known as political paralysis can be defined as a situation in which a country goes through a political turmoil. In this type of situation government becomes impotent and fails to control the circumstances. It may also involve the death of people within that country and in many cases the country weakens in terms of economic growth.

Political Instability in Pakistan Right After Independence

Pakistan appeared on World map as a sovereign state on 14th August 1947. As a new state,Pakistan at that time had to face a lot of problems. Pakistan was financially weak and needed capital to install administrative machinery and to provide shelter to millions of refugees . It was promised that after independence Pakistan would receive Rs 750 million but Indian government refused to give Pakistan its due share and it only received  Rs 200 million. It created a lot of problems for Pakistan. Apart from this, there were other issues too like there was electricity problem and many migrants were looted when they were migrating to Pakistan and their properties were set on fire.

The biggest problem that Pakistan faced at that time and is still facing today is political instability. Even at the time of independence Government of India Act 1935 was adopted as an interim constitution and both the countries, India and Pakistan was given the responsibility of drafting their own constitution. India successfully formulated its constitution on 26th November 1949 but Pakistan failed to do so. Objectives Resolution was passed on 12th March1949 but when it was debated in the session of the Constituent Assembly, it was opposed and criticized by the minority leaders. Then after the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan , situation became more critical and at that time the survival of Pakistan was at stake. Governments were continuously changing and the law and order situation worsened as Ahmadi Movement was started in Lahore in 1953.This provided an opportunity to army to intervene in state politics and Ayub Khan imposed martial law in country on 7th October 1958.After this he dismissed the president on 27th October 1958 and became the First Chief Martial Law Administrator of Pakistan. He emerged as a savior of the nation and controlled the situation very well but after him military got a free hand to intervene in politics whenever they want to. Even after Ayub,s rule , Yahya Khan became the president of Pakistan and he was the most incapable person. During his reign, Pakistan lost its East wing which is now known as Bangladesh. Pakistan suffered a lot due to this loss as all jute factories were located in East Pakistan and Pakistan at that time was already trying to develop itself industrially. Due to this loss, economic growth again became much slower in Pakistan. One thing which should be mentioned here is that both India and Pakistan emerged on world map as sovereign states side by side but India has never seen a military dictatorship. On the other hand, military ruled Pakistan for thirty six years.

Muhammad Ayub Khan in office 27th October 1958_ 25th March 1969 (12 years)

Yahya Khan in office 25th March 1969_ 20th December 1971 (3 years)

Muhammad Zia ul Haq in office 16th September 1978_ 17th August 1988 (11 years)

Pervez Musharraf in office 12th October 1999_ 18th August 2008 (10 years)

Although military is a very organized and professional institution but it does not mean that they have the right to overthrow the government whenever they want to because Pakistan is a democratic state. Intervention of military means that democracy is weakening and this is not a good sign. The task of military is to maintain peace and not to govern the state and it should do its work and should leave the political affairs of the state. Pakistan has witnessed military regimes and they also failed to end political instability. For instance, Pakistan is still facing problems due to the policies of Zia ul Haq as sectarian and ethnic madness is a result of his policies. Musharraf left fragile economy, destruction of state institutions and horror of US intervention. After Musharraf, rule people in Pakistan has developed this concept that whatever wrong happens in Pakistan it is because of AMERICA. So, since independence political instability is prevailing in Pakistan and no government was able to control it.

Present Situation of Politics in Pakistan

These days there is government of PML-N in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif became the Prime minister of Pakistan for third time and again he was unable to complete his tenure as he was disqualified. One can say that at this time there are two prime ministers in Pakistan , as Nawaz  Sharif is not ready to accept the judicial verdict and the other one, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is reluctant to don the thorny mantle. There are many issues which are haunting the government and the government is unable to take any step and to find the solution of those issues. For instance Allama Tahir ul Qadri was threatening again and again that if his demands would not be fulfilled regarding the Model town incident he would again do the dharna . While he was only give threats Khadim Hussain Rizvi gathered a huge mob of people and came to Islamabad and blocked Faizabad for around 22 days. He blocked Faizabad due to the  comments of Punjab law which he made during the recent Blasphemy Bill Controversy. This dharna created a lot of problems for local people as it paralysed the movement of goods and people in larger parts of the country. One can say that the blind followers of mullah completely paralysed the federal and Punjab governments for three weeks. After completely analyzing the situation only one question will come in anybodys mind that if this kind of situation would have occurred in any other country what step would be taken by their government ? Obviously  the local and district level administration, police and bureaucracy would get the roads cleared  and restore the flow of traffic by dispersing the crowd and arresting the leaders but Pakistan is another country. Whenever this kind of situation occurs instead of solving the issue by themselves, the government involves military or one can say that military involves itself. Again the same thing was repeated and military intervened and solved the issue. The state authorities surrendered to the demands of religious groups. If in the end they would have surrendered then they would have done at the very start and should have not prolonged it for the three weeks as in the end it was general public who suffered the most. This proves that leaders in Pakistan are incompetent, wounded by corruption charges and are divided by within.

Reasons of Political Instability

Every single person knows that there is political instability in Pakistan but no one thinks about that what are the reasons behind it ? The main reason behind political instability in Pakistan is weak leadership. From 1947 uptil now after Quaide Azam, Pakistan has not seen a competent leader who can control situation on his own and every time when situations worsens, leaders take a shortcut and involve military or military itself intervenes. For instance, issue of Kargil provided an opportunity to Musharraf to become Chief Martial Law Administrator as at that time Nawaz Sharif failed diplomatically. On the other hand, Indian leaders successfully manipulated this issue and used it as a diplomatic tool against Pakistan. Secondly lack of accountability dominates the political scenario in Pakistan. As it was stated in Objectives Resolution that judiciary would be guaranteed full freedom and it would be independent. Then the same laws should be used for politicians and constitutionalists which are used for general public but again judiciary is also not completely independent and is under the influence of politicians. This can be seen from the fact that in 1954 Ghulam Muhammad dissolved Constituent Assembly and a new Council of ministers was appointed. Stanley de Smith argues that he dissolved the assembly because he objected the constitution which the assembly was about to adopt. At that time Maulvi Tamizuddin was the President of Constituent Assembly and he appealed to the Chief court of Sindh at Karachi to restrain the new council of ministers from implementing the dissolution. Court ruled in favour of Tamizuddin. Then Ghulam Muhmmad and the council of ministers appealed against this jurisdiction. Chief justice Muhammad Munir heard the case and as he was friend of Ghulam Muhammad he stated that according to the Doctrine of Necessity, Constituent Assembly is the legislature of domain and governor generals approval is needed for every law to become legislation. Therefore constituent assembly would be dissolved and the jurisdiction of Chief court of Sindh was held invalid. So this proves that even law is biased and discriminatory. Judges favour those who have power and are high in status. This makes the process of accountability useless and politicians easily misuse power. Panama Case is another example which shows that accountability method in Pakistan never developed properly. Due to lack of accountability there is institutional disfunctionality also. Thirdly there is political instability in Pakistan  due to intervention of military and bureaucracy in politics. Whenever there were military regimes, chief martial law administrators blamed politicians for the instability and they even introduced certain measures against them. For example Ayub Khan introduced Elective Bodies Disqualification Order EBDO and under this activities of politicians were brought under restrain. Bureaucracy always supported military regimes through various referendums. Although during military regimes economy of Pakistan boosted but politically Pakistan became a very weak nation. Mushroom growth of political parties has also brought about political instability in Pakistan. A large number of political parties mean that a nation is divided and they have their own different ideologies. In the elections of 2013 there were 162 political parties and now there are about 282 political parties and all these parties have failed to deliver true democracy as they all want to gain their own personal advantages. There is one more problem that when one political party loses elections it then adopts the policy of repression and starts agitational politics. It tries to destablise the working government which is harmful for the state and brings political instability.

Political Instability and Economy

Everyone knows that politics and economy is related to each other. Political instability has a bad influence on economy as it lowers down foreign investment and creates unemployment .Pakistan faced a lot of economic problems due to political instability as Army Public School incident and suicide attacks weakened government and investment declined. Even friends of Pakistan were reluctant to provide financial aid to Pakistan but now circumstances have changed. CPEC project has been started which shows that foreign investment is coming into Pakistan and it will provide employment to a huge number of people. Moreover infrastructure is developing which means that economy is also boosting.

Solutions to End Political Instability

Pakistan was created as a democratic state so democracy should dominate the scenario. Military should not intervene in the politics and general public should be given a chance to govern the state. There are different political dynasties which are ruling Pakistan since its inception. Even Muslim League which dominated the politics of Pakistan was the party of elites. There were no common people. Then PPP is a political party of feudal lords who already have lots of money and they do not know the problems of general public. Those people should be given a chance who have seen problems and who know what people actually want. This dynastical culture should come to an end and it is only possible when political awareness should be given to people. When people would know their rights they would start asking questions and then process of accountability would be made strict. There is a dire need to introduce reforms which would strengthen judiciary and would end these prejudices practices. Judges at least  should not be influenced by politicians. There work is to follow laws and everyone is equal in the eyes of law. Lastly there is a need to bring ideological revival in Pakistan. One strong ideology should be followed and practiced in Pakistan only then this mushroom growth of political parties can be controlled. People would not then blindly follow these different ideologies.



Presently, political situation is critical in Pakistan but it does not mean that Pakistan has  collapsed as a nation and that political paralysis in Pakistan will never come to an end. Political instability will come to an end as people in Pakistan has become well aware of their rights and now they do ask questions. They are even ready to held accountable military for their actions and now they do not want that they should be governed by military. Economically Pakistan is also becoming strong due to CPEC so the situation is hopeful. In upcoming years political instability in Pakistan will come to an end and Pakistan will become a true democratic state.


Ayesha Jalal, The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan,s Political Economy of Defense,(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Hassan Askari Rizvi, Military and Politics in Pakistan,(Lahore: Progressive Publishers,1986)

Hamid Yousaf , Pakistan: A Study of Political Developments 1947-1997,(Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications,1999)

S.Akbar Zaidi, Issues in Pakistan,s Economy (NewYork: Oxford University Press,2005)

Muhammad Waseem, Democratization in Pakistan: A Study of 2002 General Elections, (NewYork Oxford University Press,2006)

Safdar Mehmood, Pakistan Political Roots and Development 1947-1999, (NewYork: Oxford University Press)

G.W Chauhdry, Last Days of United Pakistan,(London: G.Hurt and Company,1974)

Lawrence Ziring, Pakistan in the 20th Century: A Political History,(Karachi: Oxford University Press,1997)

Khursheed Kamal Aziz, Pakistan,s Political Culture: Essays in Historical and Social Origins (Lahore: Vanguard,2001)

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