HistoryPakistan Studies

Reasons for the Failure of the 1962 Constitution of Pakistan

Pakistan’s second constitution was promulgated in 1962 by General Ayub Khan. This constitution remained enacted only for 7 years. Ayub Khan, the architect of the 1962 Constitution, resigned as president in March 1969 and handed over the reign of the country to General Yahya. With his resignation, the constitution was also suspended and Yahya assumed power as second Chief Martial Law administrator.

In this article, the reasons for the failure of the 1962 constitution are discussed.

#1 One-man Show 

The constitution was basically made and enacted by Ayub Khan to prolong his own rule in the country. It provided little chance for any independent political activity. The president could use his powers disproportionately and no authority and court could challenge it.

#2 Undemocratic Constitution

The constitution provided a controlled form of democracy in the country. People could not elect the government directly. Only Basic Democrats could be elected by people at the local level. The basic democrats acted as an electoral college for the election of the president, national assembly and provincial legislatures. Ayub Khan as president used his influence to get him elected to the presidency in the 1964 presidential elections.

Moreover, the president could dismiss the national assembly, issue ordinances, and appoint ministers at his discretion. As president Ayub Khan was not answerable to anyone.

#3 Parity of Representation

The constitution provided a parity of representation at the center. This formula of representation was rejected and resented by the people of East Pakistan who formed the majority population of the country at that time. East Pakistan demanded their representation proportional to their population. For them, parity of representation meant an undemocratic act and political under-representation.

#4 One Unit Formula

The controversial One Unit Formula of the 1956 Constitution was made part of the 1962 Constitution also. According to this formula province of West Pakistan i.e. Punjab, Sindh, NWFP, and Balochistan were merged into a single unit instead of four different provinces. This was already resented by the people and politicians of West Pakistan. Its incorporation in the 1962 constitution just added to the grievances of the people.

#5 Public Desire for the Parliamentary System 

The 1962 Constitution provided a presidential form of government. People of Pakistan and politically conscious circles demanded a parliamentary system of government instead.

#6 Repression and Curtailment of Fundamental Rights

Ayub Khan enjoyed supreme authority as provided to the president in light of the 1962 Constitution. Although fundamental rights were provided in the constitution, they were often violated without hesitation. Activities of politicians and their parties were restricted. They could not speak against the government.  In case of protest, critique and agitation, the political and social activists were picked and punished.

#7 Student Rise for Democracy 

To the end years of 1968, the youth and people of Pakistan had become fed up with Ayub Khan who ruled the country by stick providing little space for democracy. His arbitrary acts and decisions were now started to be challenged. Students protest erupted throughout the country for the revival of democracy and civilian rule.

#8 Rise of Bhutto

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who had resigned as foreign minister in protest against Ayub’s approach while signing the Tashkent Agreement in 1966. Bhutto supported students’ strikes against the Ayub regime and demanded the resignation of Ayub Khan and the general election for the formation of a direct representative government. It challenged the indirect elections system provided by the 1962 Constitution. Similar protests and agitation were also spreading against Ayub Khan in East Pakistan too.

#9 Resignation of Ayub Khan

Ayub Khan resorted to using force to quell the people uprising against his undemocratic rule in both wings of Pakistan. The agitation did not seem to calm down and compelled Ayub Khan to resign and step down. Ayub abrogated his own constitution and handed over power to General Yahya Khan paving way for second Martial Law in the country.

Noor Akber

I am a social activist and educationist. I write on politics, culture, education and economy.

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