Ayub Khan had come to power by imposing the first Martial Law in Pakistan in 1958. He ruled the country with a strong hand for 10 years but in the end, he had to resign in the face of strong resistance from students, the public, and political parties.
The reasons responsible for the resignation of Ayub Khan are discussed below.
Rigging in Presidential Elections 1965
The military government committed rigging in the presidential election which was contested between Quaid-e-Azam’s sister Fatima Jinnah and Ayub Khan. People supported Fatima Jinnah but vicious propaganda was carried out against her declaring her anti-Pakistani. This was resented by the people. Although Ayub Khan declared himself a winner his popularity graph declined sharply. People questioned the validity and transparency of the elections.
Tashkent Agreement 1965
Ayub Khan had claimed victory in the war against India in 1965 but when peace talks were concluded in Tashkent under the mediation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), there was no mention of Kashmir. People thought that Pakistan was in a dictating position and could have compelled Indians to make some compromise. When people heard that there was no mention of the Kashmir issue they became unhappy and angry. This was another blow to the popularity of Ayub Khan.
Economic development benefited only a few People
Ayub Khan’s reforms helped increase the economic growth rate of Pakistan by 7% in the 1960s which was many times more than India. Although, Pakistan’s economy was flourishing critics of Ayub say that economic growth did not benefit the common men. A new class emerged in the wake of land reforms as lands were distributed among army officers, businessmen, and bureaucrats. Similarly, it was found that more than 60% hold of industries, insurance companies, banks, etc. was in the hands of only 22 families which formed a small elite group in the country.
Thus the much propagated economic development actually did not benefit common Pakistani. It was found that agricultural production had increased but people did not see any positive impact on food prices.
Public and students demand the restoration of Ayub Khan
Ayub Khan had framed a constitution to suit his own political interests and prolong his rule. He had banned political parties and imposed censorship on newspapers. Criticism against the government was crushed ruthlessly. Such a dictatorial rule could not last for long. Soon it had to face the country’s severe resistance from the people of Pakistan. Students of colleges and universities throughout the country started a movement demanding Ayub’s resignation and restoration of democracy. During this agitation, an assassination attempt was also made on Ayub Khan while he was visiting NWFP.
Rise of Bhutto and Pakistan People’s Party
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was Foreign Minister in Ayub Khan’s government. Differences between Ayub Khan and Bhutto over terms of the Tashkent Agreement 1965 led to the resignation of Bhutto in 1966. Bhutto was of the view that the war won on the battlefield was lost on negotiating table because of the president. In 1967 with the help of left political figures of the country, Bhutto organized a new political, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Protests and resistance being shown by students were overtaken by Bhutto creating serious disturbances in the country. The ensuing riots and law and order situation got out of control in 1968 which spread to East Pakistan where Awami League mobilized people against the Government. In desperation, Ayub Khan resigned and handed power over to the Army Chief of Staff, General Mohammad Yahya Khan.