History, Unstable Parliamentary Democracy
Muslim League, parliamentary democracy, new charter, martial law, West Wing
The new charter notwithstanding, political instability continued because no stable majority party emerged in the National Assembly. Prime Minister Ali remained in office only until September 1956, when he was unable to retain his majority in the National Assembly and was succeeded by Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, founder of the Awami League of East Pakistan. He formed a coalition cabinet that included the Awami League and the Republican Party of the West Wing, a new party that was formed by dissident members of the Muslim League. However, President Mirza forced Suhrawardy to resign after he discovered that the prime minister was planning to support Firoz Khan Noon, leader of the Republican Party, for the presidency in the country’s first general elections, scheduled for January 1959. The succeeding coalition government, headed by Ismail Ibrahim Chundrigar of the Muslim League, lasted only two months before it was replaced by a Republican Party cabinet under Noon.
President Mirza, realizing he had no chance of being reelected president and openly dissatisfied with parliamentary democracy, proclaimed martial law on October 7, 1958. He dismissed Noon’s government, dissolved the National Assembly, and canceled the scheduled general elections. Mirza was supported by General Muhammad Ayub Khan, commander in chief of the army, who was named chief martial-law administrator. Twenty days later Ayub forced the president to resign and assumed the presidency himself.
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