Ayub’s Era at a Glance


The master mind behind the fall of Chaudhary Muhammad Ali and the overnight conversion of Muslim League members of the assembly into the Republican Party in 1956 was no one else but President Iskandar Mirza. Further more in the exercise of Political setup of Iskandar Mirza, the politicians of East Pakistan suffered from limitations imposed from West Pakistan. This created political instability through out Mirza’s regime. The situation became extreme when the state of insecurity generated by Iskandar Mirza himself was at its peak. In these circumstances Iskandar Mirza and Ayub Khan Jointly made a conspiracy plan by which Ayub Khan imposed a Martial Law in the country (8th October 1958) and became the chief Martial Law Administrator. Rightly said by Mushtaq Ahmed (Politics of Crisis pg.25), that the major reason for the imposition of Martial Law in the country wasn’t the defects in the constitution but it was the ‘Politics of Power’. Well, Iskandar Mirza was forced to resign after 19 days of the imposition of the Martial Law and was exiled.

Ayub’s Era at a glance:

He was the same Ayub Khan who was pointed as the head of Punjab Boundary Force in August 1947, to look after the safe migration of Muslims from India to Pakistan. But he didn’t fulfill his duties and remain drunk and the history painfully saw the massacres of Muslim men, women and children and rape of Muslim women on the cost of “Bottle of vine”.

President Ayub ruled Pakistan for a little more than ten years. During his regime Pakistan had undergone some achievements but there had been a lot of unsolved structural problems also which account for his era. In a brief context Ayub’s era didn’t eliminate the basic problems of the society in Pakistan. The major aspects of Ayub’s era can be discussed as follows:

  • Before Ayub’s era country was smarting under the shadows of dark forces on the political horizon. In this scenario Ayub’s regime didn’t bring any hope of freedom but the order and discipline, characteristic of all Martial Law regimes.
  • After abrogating the constitution of 1956, the press & Publication ordination 1960 was employed to clip the wings of criticism of the regime.
  • The commission appointed by Ayub to design the political frame work for the future was headed by former Chief Justice of Pakistan Muhammad Shahabuddin with ten other members five from East Pakistan and five from West Pakistan, composed of retired judges, lawyers, industrialists and landlords, it went about to work in a businesslike manner.
  • The commission proposed a presidential from of government and Basic Democracy found no place in the future democratic process. And the recommendations were neglected by the regime.
  • The constitution formed under the guidance of Ayub Khan removed the word ‘Islamic’ and declared that Pakistan will be a republic under the name of ‘Republic of Pakistan”, which was lately rectified as ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ through first amendment. Further the constitution began with the words “I Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan” and not eh words “We the People of Pakistan” do hereby declare and promulgate the constitution, meant he had no respect for the popular sanction. For its provisions fundamental or otherwise, he alone was responsible. In a nut shell the president had acquired the completely free hand in the management of the affairs of the state in the light of his own experience.
  • Ayub introduced a new political system, known as the Basic Democracies, in 1959. It created a four-tiered system of mostly indirect representation in government, from the local to the national level, allowing communication between local communities and the highly centralized national government. Each tier was assigned certain responsibilities in local administration of agricultural and community development, such as maintenance of elementary schools, public roads, and bridges. All the councils at the tehsil (subdistrict), zilla (district), and division levels were indirectly elected. The lowest tier, on the village level, consisted of union councils. Members of the union councils were known as Basic Democrats and were the only members of any tier who were directly elected.
  • Ayub’s regime also increased developmental funds to East Pakistan more than threefold. This had a noticeable effect on the economy of the province, but the disparity between the two wings of Pakistan was not eliminated.
  • His regime also initiated land reforms designed to reduce the political power of the landed aristocracy.
  • Ayub also promulgated a progressive Islamic law, the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance of 1961, imposing restrictions on polygamy and divorce and reinforcing the inheritance rights of women and minors.
  • In 1959, soon after taking office, Ayub ordered the planning and construction of a new national capital, to replace Karachi. The chosen location of the new capital in the province of Punjab was close to the military headquarters of Rawalpindi, which served as an interim capital. Islamabad officially became the new capital in 1967, although construction continued into the 1970s.
  • The first election under the constitution of 1962 were on non part basis, however, the political parties were revived in the second election which were held in 1965. Ms. Fatima Jinnah was the presidential candidate of Combined Opposition parties (COP). Ayub khan won the election but the results were disputed and COP demanded that direct election should be substituted for indirect elections.
  • Ayub was skillful in maintaining cordial relations with the United States, stimulating substantial economic and military aid to Pakistan. But unfortunately the war of 1965 brought a sense of defenselessness and deprivation among the people of East Pakistan. And after that The East Pakistan demanded for autonomy under the presentation of six points.
  • In 1969 a mass movement spread by People’s Party in West Pakistan and by Awami League in East Pakistan destabilized Ayub’s regime and on March 25 1965 Ayub resigned from his office and handed over the charge to Commander in Chief of the Army General Yahya Khan, instead of the speaker of the national assembly, hence violated himself in ‘self assumed Constitution’.


The characteristics of Ayub’s era discussed above show some successful decisions and some not so successful decisions of Ayub. In my opinion Ayub was a man of great determination but the he was lacking the quality of ‘listening to others’. He always did what he thought better in the light of his own experience.

His regime can be characterized with some developments but he couldn’t maintain the national harmony among the distant provinces of Pakistan, i.e. East Pakistan and West Pakistan.

Related Readings:

1- Mushtaq Ahmed, Politics of Crisis pg.25
2- M.A.K Chaudhary, Martial Law ka Siyasi Andaz pg.95
3- Kamal Azfar, Pakistan: Political and Constitutional Dilemmas pg.75-76
4- Gul Shehzad Sarwar, Pakistan Studies pg.382—389

Web References:

1- Encarta
2- Wikipedia

10 Responses

  1. hello,how are you i am so glad to see your blog and to read such a interesting essay about ayub era,his era is considered as golden period for pakistan and you have depicted a true picture plz carry on may god bless you
    take care

  2. iqbal’s

    Interesting post. I came across this blog by accident, but it was a good accident. I have now bookmarked your blog for future use. Best wishes. Ragheb Alama Website Team.

  3. ayub era though considered to be good in some aspects,but as a whole this era greatly damaged the very basis of the unity of pakistan.Ayub’s dictatorship barred the way of democracy and democratic institutions in pakistan.that was the worse autharitarianism.

  4. well over all da eassy is gud……but the few things r needed to b add in it …….u should add press n media laws which were made by ayub khan…

  5. Markus

    It was quite useful reading, found some interesting details about this topic. Thanks.

  6. taking cialis


  7. ziakhan/member cssforum
    My date of birth is 1985. I was not born in the reign of Ayub khan but i am very impress with Ayub khan. I study the book of Qudratullah shahab named “Shahabnama”, who was the principal secretray of president Ayub khan, You must read this book to know about the charactor of Ayub khan, according to my information Ayub khan was not a drinker. He was very good ruler like general Pervez Musharaf. He was very good administrator,and also a religious person. I like dictatorship rathe than Democracy, although i am the student of Political science. I belongs to Balocistan,in before the 1999 the Balochistan public service was auctioning the posts of 17 grade,and this situation was all over the country, and in the reign of General Pervez musharaf even the son of Cheif Justice was not able to get the post of ASP illegally. Now merit exists at least 95% .
    This was an example, while there are lot.
    So, the reign of Ayub khan was Like the Pervez Musharaf.

  8. @Zia Khan

    Thanks for visiting and placing your valuable comment here. Well, you’ve not gone through the whole article, it’s been my mistake actually, I’d transferred some of my posts to ideasdesk.com from here some months back. All was well but some server breakdown there resulted as lost of whole data from there. I’m still on the way to re build the site, but it’ll take enough time to get back to its original position, so I’m just re posting the whole article here. Have a read of it and then I’ll be answering all your questions.


  9. hi this is abdullah from karachi.you writen well about the era of ayub khan.i need an article about democracy in pakistan from independence till now.i hope you will reply.allah hafiz.

  10. I dont know y people believes in democracry bc all the democratic governments have destroyed our country successfully,all the army leaders have served us better than these democratic thieves.
    Ayub was Ayub no one resembles him,in His reign Karachi was the 4th progressive city of world,he was the only field marshal of Pakistan by defeating India in His own Leadership n Command.
    Few dams were made in his leadership untill now no more major dam has been constructed.
    All the Industriall progress was acheived in his reign i-e it was the best decade for Industrialization.
    Bhutto always had claimed that “Ayub khan is my Daddy”.
    I cant explain His Identity in comments he needs Libraries 4 that.

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