Public Record Office
REF: FCO 37/472
0571 (3 Lines)
To the Members of the General Committee
President felt that a comprehensive note on political developments in
For obvious reasons it is being given
only limited circulation and it is most important that it should not go back to
W .D. Bryden
NOTE BY SIR PERCIVAL GRIIFFITHS
two parts into which this note is divided deal respectively with the period;
before and after the Revolution. Each part consists of a chronological summary
of the main features of
Part I: Before the Revolution of 1958
For the first three years of
2. After the murder of Liaquat All Khan in 1951, things took a rapid turn for the worse. The .most unfavourable features in the next seven years were as follows:
(a) Growing antagonism between the East and West Wings.
(b) The lack of any real public opinion in either Wing. (c) Growing disrespect for the Parliamentary system.
The inability of
and the facts
(i) that immediately after adopting the Constitution they began to quarrel about it, and
(ii) that these quarrels made it impossible to hold elections, so that the new Constitution was never tried.
(e) The all pervading corruption amongst Ministers and officials, accompanied
by profiteering and hoarding on a large scale.
(f) The unsound management of the economy in 1951 and 1952, and again in
and 1958, which was driving
life difficult for the ordinary man.
3. In 1952, an unwise suggestion by the Prime Minister that Urdu should be the sole official language of Pakistan, resulted in serious riots in East Pakistan and brought out into the open the East Pakistan dislike of what was regarded as West Pakistan rule. That dislike had indeed been evident to careful observers from the start, and was accelerated by the contempt with which West Pakistani officials at that time treated East Pakistanis. This was a serious factor, since, for historical reasons, when Pakistan was established there were very few East Pakistanis in the superior services, and most important posts in East Pakistan had to be filled up by West Pakistanis -- some of whom did not hesitate to refer openly to the East Pakistanis as `these black beetles,' who, in turn, characterized the Administration as `brown imperialists.'
In the same year, the constitutional proposals of the Basic Principles
Committee - which would have deprived
5. Political considerations, combined with a genuine though mistaken idea as to the possible pace of economic progress, had led to an orgy of overspending in 1950 and 1951 as a result of failure to realise the temporary nature of the Korean War boom. Sensible attempts were made to recover the position in 1952, but they necessarily involved restriction of imports, which combined with a foodstuff shortage and with drastic overspending by the Government to produce conditions of economic hardship. Discontent grew apace.
In 1953 anti-Ahmadiya riots in Lahore, inspired by Daultana who was determined
to achieve Cabinet office, led to the imposition of Martial Law and. t'(-)r
"I time, seriously lowered the stock of the Central Government. This lent
added force to the demand of the East Pakistani firebrand Bhashani that
In 1954, the complete rout of the Muslim League in the East Pakistan Provincial
elections, was in effect a vote for greater Provincial autonomy, or to put it
differently, an expression of discontent with the Central Government. It was
widely believed in
8. In October 1954, the Governor General dissolved the Constituent Assembly - presumably because it was unrepresentative but, according to the Governor General because it would no longer function. This left the Governor General solely in command, but immediately thereafter he formed a new Cabinet under the Premiership of Mohammed Ali of Bogra. This might have been accepted by the common man, but the Governor General soon fell sick and before long it was clear that nobody was in charge. A little later, the Sind High Court held the Governor General's action to be invalid. That decision was reversed by the Supreme Court, but certain other Acts of the Central Government were invalidated and the general effect was to increase the confusion in the public mind and to undermine the authority of the Central Government.
At this stage it was decided to integrate the
In 1956, when the proposed Constitution was under discussion, there was much
antagonism between the
An agitation against One Unit was now made the occasion of a shameless bargain
between the Republicans who, having warmly supported the One Unit proposal when
it was enacted, joined up with the National Awami party in demanding its
abolition in order to secure the support of that party against the Muslim
League. Determination to attain or maintain power was now the only factor
governing the parties in
13. Confusion and instability prevailed in the party alignments at the Centre. Prime Ministers were in and out - there were three of them in 1957 - and when the President, Iskander Mirza, refused to accede to the demand of the Prime Minister, Suhrawardy, for an early meeting of the Assembly, Suhrawardy resigned. The clash between the President and Suhrawardy was serious. The Army was strongly in support of the President and there was talk of a coup d'etat to overturn the Constitution. The
public were thoroughly sick of the tergiversations of the politicians, but pinned their faith to early elections to put matters right.
14. Economic conditions were also adverse at this stage. Genuine attempts had been made from 1953 to 1955 to recover from the orgy of overspending indulged in during 1950 and 1951, but in the political chaos of 1956 onwards, politicians vied with each other in promising their constituents a new Heaven and a new Earth. The financial results were very serious. Syed Amjad Ali, a sound Finance Minister, was powerless against the combined forces of the politicians and Ghulam Faruque, the
Chairman of the PIDC, who refused to pay the slightest attention to any financial restraints. Deficit financing on a considerable scale resulted and the nation's economic health was rightly described by one observer as `debilitated and febrile.'
15. The ordinary man thus found himself worse off at a time when Cabinet Ministers and senior officials were growing rich by shameless corruption. Resentment grew apace.
In both Wings, 1958 was a year of a paralleled political opportunism. Events
during this year were of such importance that they justify a lengthy extract
from a report by the present writer, written at the end of the year after
before and after the Revolution.
"1. The Background
(a) Throughout 1958 it had been a matter of constant speculation as to whether the promised general elections would be held. All political parties were clamouring for elections and the public had an almost pathological belief that somehow or other they would bring in a more honest administration. By the middle of the year it looked, despite the President's opposition, as if the elections would be held in the early part of 1959. Certain factors were, however, working in the opposite direction.
(b) The Parliamentary system was proving wholly unsatisfactory: even the Constituent Assembly might well have been described as a bedlam which the Speaker was quite unable to control, and disorder was the rule rather than the exception in the Legislatures. Political parties seemed to have no fixed principles, but to move from policy to policy at convenience, while individual members were prepared at any time to join a new party in the course of the scramble for power. Corruption was rife, particularly in the East Wing (in spite of the respect in which the Chief Minister, Ataur Rahman, was held) and it penetrated to very high places. Import licences and industrial sanctions were freely bought and sold and bribery reached levels high even by Asian standards. At the same time, honest officials at the Centre complained that they never knew where they were and that there was no continuity of policy. Those concerned with economic affairs were particularly worried, first at the expansionist policy of Suhrawardy, and then at the refusal of Malik Firoz Khan Noon to face economic facts. The public were growing angry at the prevalence of hoarding, profiteering and racketeering generally and there was a general sense that things could hardly be worse.
(c) Throughout the
year the Army was growing restive. Officers, particularly, were enraged at the
high prices of consumer goods; others felt a sense of frustration over the
successful attempts of the East Pakistan Administration to make the military
anti-smuggling operations infructuous: and the Army, in general, had a sense of
shame over the degradation of
(d) The President
was contemptuous of the politicians, regarded the Constitution as a millstone
round his neck, and had for some years been anxious to intervene. His difficulty,
however, was that by mid-1958 he had no political following: he had, in fact,
alienated all parties, partly because of his unconcealed contempt for their
leaders and partly because of his own inept attempts to manage the parties.
Patriotism and personal ambition led him to regard himself as the only possible
(e) General Mohammad Ayub Khan. the Commander-in-Chief, had been pressing the President for two months to act and telling him that if he did not intervene, sooner or later the Army would take action. There is little doubt that in this attitude lie had the Army behind him.
(f) At the beginning of August, the President began to 'test' public opinion by arresting prominent Muslim Leaguers - but he seems to have been still uncertain it' the time was ripe for action.
(g) At this stage
the fracas in the Dacca Legislative Assembly, in which the Speaker was injured
and the Deputy Speaker killed, shocked right-thinking men and seemed to make
17. When, therefore, on October 7 1958, the President, Iskander Mirza, abrogated the Constitution completely and proclaimed Martial Law, the natural public fear as to what the Army would do was more than counterbalanced by a sense of relief that a corrupt gang of politicians had been removed from power.
18. Under the new set-up, General Ayub was appointed Martial Law Administrator, and supreme executive authority was conferred upon him. The position of the Martial Law Administrator vis-a-vis the President was left vague. In each Wing a Deputy Martial Law Administrator was appointed. His relations with the Governor do not appear to have been formally defined, but it may be said that while the Governor carried on the ordinary administration, the Deputy Administrator had the right to interfere whenever he thought it necessary. Apart from the Deputy Administrator's power to supervise and control, the Army was also supposed to be a kind of `ginger group' intended to make administration speedier and tougher and, in particular, to deal with corruption.
The revolution was remarkable for its non-violence and when the present writer
Part II: October 1958 -
During the first fortnight after the Revolution, the President talked freely
about his plans for a future Cabinet of non-politicians, but thought he had
better give the Army time to clean up the mess first. On October 24, he appears
to have changed his mind and announced the formation of a Cabinet, with General
Ayub as Prime Minister and containing three other Generals, together with four
At this stage, the Army decided to act. Mirza had always been an intriguer and
the Army evidently suspected that he was again intriguing with the politicians.
On October 27, Ayub forced Mirza to abdicate and himself assumed the role of
President, associating with himself as advisers the civilians and generals whom
Mirza had appointed to the Cabinet. The general public accepted this second
Revolution readily and the disappearance of Iskander Mirza was welcomed in
The period of open military rule did not last long, but while it lasted
Draconian sentences were passed for such offences as hoarding, profiteering and
smuggling. The writer reported at the time that 'new life was put into the
police' and it is credibly reported that a military officer even compelled a
constable to pay for the hire of a conveyance -- a notable departure from
Fortunately, Ayub was fully conscious of the danger that a long-continued
and unqualified military regime would not only arouse resentment, but might lead to
the corruption of the Army itself. At about the end of November 1958, he began to
withdraw Army officers from direct participation in the civil administration. The
Generals still remained as members of the Cabinet and as Martial Law Deputy
Administrators. To outward appearances ordinary civil administration was restored,
but everybody was fully aware that the real power lay in the hands of the Generals.
Administration was rapidly toned up and a number of corrupt or inefficient
officials - some of them occupying very senior posts - were sacked or told to resign.
Desirable though this was, it had the unfortunate effect that other officials became
unwilling to pass orders and considerable delays occurred in obtaining decisions or executive action.
All objective observers were impressed with the sincerity of the new President
and the present writer expressed the view that `it is difficult not to feel
that the destinies of
Towards the end of 1959 any enthusiasm on the part of the public for the new
regime seemed to have evaporated. East Pakistanis disliked their exclusion from
politics and the writer noted at that time that `though no new movement against
the regime seems to be expected in the near future, no particular resistance
would be offered to any force directed against that regime.' The decision of
the President in June 1959 to move the capital from
The President's ideas as to a Constitution now began to take shape, and in the
middle of 1959 he expounded to the writer his theory of Basic Democracy. The
President's view was that `while the villager knows nothing about economics or
politics, he is quite capable of choosing good men of his locality to represent
The years 1960 and 1961 were unspectacular and were marked chiefly by progress
towards a more liberal Constitution. The elections for the Basic Democracies
attracted much interest and indeed 55% of the electorate voted, but in
During the same period the work of "cleaning up" went on apace. In
30. A great deal of harm at this time was done by the arrogance and "bossiness" developed by Government officials - presumably because they felt that the might of the Army was behind them.
Inter-provincial relations to some extent deteriorated in this period.
The year 1962 was perhaps a turning point in the affairs of'
candidates were in the main camp followers of the former leaders. With the promulgation of the new Constitution, Martial Law came to an end.
The authority of the President had declined considerably since the commencement
of the Constitution-making process and shortly after the promulgation of the
Constitution, he had to agree to the formation of political parties and also to
resile from his decision that members of his Cabinet could not be members of the
Legislature. The order which gave effect to this change undermined the very
concept of the Presidential system, and the fact that the Supreme Court
subsequently invalidated this order, did not enhance the President's prestige.
This was in fact the first major defeat of the President and he never fully
recovered his position. Politicians were quick to take advantage of the new
situation. In October 1962 the Muslim League split into two parties -one party
which came to be known as the Conventionists, supported the new Constitution,
while the Councillor section presided over by Khwaja Nazimuddin demanded direct
elections based on adult suffrage and the conferment of enhanced powers on
Provincial Legislatures. The Council also demanded that the Constitution should
be given an Islamic character. These demands had a measure of support in
34. In 1963 it appeared to some observers that the position of the President had been strengthened and the Government had more success than was expected in a meeting of the National Assembly. This recovery was illusory. Contrary to the wishes of the President, the Franchise Committee which he had appointed recommended direct elections to the Legislatures, though conceding that the election of the President could continue to be by the electoral college of Basic Democrats. At a later stage the President was able to resist the demand for direct elections, but it has since been recognised that by becoming the head of the Muslim League Convention at about the end of 1963, the President was in fact stepping down into the political arena. He could not in future speak just as a benevolent dictator. The apparent improvement of the position of the Government in the Legislature was mainly the result of complete disunity amongst the opposition coalition - and the President's position was for the time being strengthened by the death of his most determined able opponent, Suhrawardy. There was, however, no relaxation of the antipathy between East and West Pakistan, which was to be the real determinant of Pakistan politics.
No significant development took place in the next two years. Just before the
introduction of the Franchise bill in the National Assembly in March 1964, a
very successful though orderly hartal in Dacca and elsewhere in East Pakistan
showed the strength of feeling behind the demand for what they called
Responsible Government. Nevertheless, the Franchise Bill was passed in a form
which provided that Basic Democrats would elect the National and Provincial
Assemblies and the President. Much of the energy of the opposition parties for
the rest of the year was taken up with manoeuvreing for position ready for the
Presidential elections in January 1965. The results of those elections were
striking. Ayub was easily elected, but of the
36. An unhappy feature of this period was the frequent recurrence of student riots. The students had some grievances of their own, but they seem to have been mainly concerned to embarrass the Government. They were in fact beginning to be used by opposition politicians -- a technique which was to be a major factor in the troubles of 1969.
In the second half of 1965, the war with
The year 1966 was an unhappy one. The exalted mood induced by the war was
39. Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the Awami League, availed himself of this popular mood to issue Six Points in February 1966. They included demands for a Federal system of Government with only Defence and Foreign Affairs reserved to the Federal Government, while taxation and fiscal and monetary policies were to be Provincial subjects. It is not clear if the Awami League contemplated the possibility of separate currencies or merely claimed the right to exercise exchange control. It is in any case possible that this extreme statement was a bargaining counter but most East Pakistanis were with Mujibur Rahman in demanding a much greater measure of autonomy. Mujibur Rahman was again sent to jail, but this did not deter the Awami League in June 1966 from organising a hartal in support of its regional autonomy demand. Road and rail traffic and business generally were seriously disrupted, and the fact that the Police were compelled to open fire only added to the bitterness, though the violent demonstrations collapsed at once.
The President appeared to be curiously insensitive to
In other respects too, the image of the President was not as bright as it had
once been. In
The end of 1966 and the beginning of 1967 were to some extent characterised by
a propaganda duel between the President and Bhutto. From November 1966, the
President had carried out a strenuous two months election tour, which was made
necessary, partly by the imminence of the removal of the bans on disqualified
politicians, and partly by the proximity of the elections to the Council of
Muslim League Conventionists, now known as the Pakistan Muslim League. The
President's theme at this time was the necessity for maintaining the unity of
In April 1967, a concerted attempt to unite the opposition parties on a common
programme led to the formation of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, which was
formally announced on May I over the signatures of the Party leaders of the
National Democratic Front, the Council of the Muslim League, the
Jamaat-i-Islam, the Nizami-Islam and the Awami League. It put forward a
programme containing eight points, the most important of which were the demand
for adult suffrage and for a federal form of constitution in which the powers
of the Federal Government would be very limited. Although All-Pakistan Awami
League leaders had subscribed to the manifesto, the Awami League Executive in
Party also held aloof. Altogether the period was characterised by endless
wrangling amongst the various opposition parties, who were united only by their
desire for direct elections. This disunity might have presented Ayub with a
chance of retrieving the situation, but he did not take it, though he did go so
far as to increase the number of Basic Democrats from 80,000 to 120,000. A
little later, the representation of the
At the end of the year 1967, the President spent another eleven days in
45. The year 1968 was a period during which the forces which were to make for a Revolution were building up, but they lacked cohesion and few of the parties had any carefully thought out long term policy.
The year opened dramatically with the re-arrest of Mujibur Rahman in what was
known as the Agartala Conspiracy case, on allegations that he and others were
conspiring to bring about the secession of
This was a period of great confusion amongst the opposition parties. The N.A.P.
split into two groups. One group, led by Muzaffar Ahmad and opposed to
Bhashani, demanded complete regional autonomy. Bhutto, who had formed the
Pakistan People's Party, began infructuous talks with Bhashani, who for his
part attacked the P.D.M. as the party of the rich. A little later the
Councillor Muslim League also split into two groups. Thanks to this confusion,
opposition activities were for a time at a low ebb as far as any effect was
concerned. The Awami League, which now claimed that its Six Point programme
In May, trouble broke out in
49. The P.D.M. showed a great deal of moderation but, nevertheless, in July 1968 reasserted its demands for the restoration of democracy. This was still the one demand common to all the dissident groups.
In October, Bhutto joined in the attempts to stir up trouble on the Frontier,
and in that very inflammable area repeated his demand for "the restoration
of democracy." He also adopted what was now becoming a regularly accepted
political technique and allied himself with the students and with the agitation
against One Unit. In the second week of November there were considerable
November 1968 was a month during which more than one observer commented on the
growing sense of middle class frustration - maladministration and corruption
were evident everywhere, but it seemed impossible to do anything about it. At
this stage, Air Marhsal Asghar Khan appeared on the political scene. He is a
man of integrity, greatly respected, but he had no policy to offer and his
emergence is not so much of importance in itself as indicative of the general
discontent which led a man of his calibre and background to associate himself
with open criticism of the regime. Of less significance, but perhaps of greater
potential interest, was the reemergence of General Azam Khan, who had
displayed remarkable demagogic qualities during his tenure of office as G.O.C.
In December, the President decided to cancel the foreign tour which he had
planned for January, and a few weeks later he told the writer quite frankly
that conditions were so disturbed that it would have been unwise for him to
54. Opposing positions were taken up rapidly. A Democratic Action Committee was formed to demand direct elections and a federal parliamentary system, and to boycott the elections if these demands were not conceded in advance. Pakistan politics are so confused and tedious that it is perhaps worthwhile reminding ourselves that the constituent elements of the Democratic Action Committee were - the dissident element in the N.A.P., the two sections of the Awami League, the Councillor Muslim League, the N.D.F., the Nizam-i-Islam, the Jamaat-i-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema-iIslam. Bhashani and his group held aloof.
At this stage the President laid himself out to be still more conciliatory.
Orders under Section 144 Cr.P.C. were lifted and the ban on the
The Democratic Action Committee's Demand Day on
In February, the President went to the utmost limit in making concessions. He
withdrew the Emergency Powers which had been in force since the war with
The events of March 1969 were so complicated that they are not easy to
summarise. It may be said that it was perhaps the most unhappy month
In the first and second weeks of March, strikes and riots intended to force the
Basic Democrats to resign led to looting and arson in
60. In the meantime the political situation had become even more confused. When the conference called by the President assembled on March 10, the D.A.C. put forward what purported to be agreed proposals for a federal Parliamentary system, with regional autocracy based on direct elections. It soon appeared that there were very divergent interpretations of this formula. Mujibur Rahman would limit Federal subjects to Defence, Foreign Affairs and Currency; the Wall Khan section of the N.A.P. put the main emphasis on the dismemberment of One Unit; Choudhury Mohammed All's group insisted on the maintenance of One Unit and on parity between East and West Pakistan in the National Assembly; and so on. Ayub proposed that they should go ahead on the basis of direct elections and Parliamentary Government --- which all supported -- and leave the other issues to be settled by a National Assembly elected on an adult suffrage basis. This was not acceptable to some of the groups. Mujibur Rahman now disassociated his Awami League from the D.A.C., since it did not give adequate support to his claims for Regional autonomy, and it was clear that there was no hope of cooperation between the different parties.
Ayub now made another conciliatory gesture. He replaced Musa, the Governor of
West Pakistan, by Yusuf Haroon whom Ayub himself disliked but who was popular
with some of the opposition groups. This to some extent allayed the tension in
have been able to dominate the scene sufficiently to bring about agreement - certainly he did not seem on March 20 to have any intention of resigning, though the present writer felt that Ayub could never again be in control of the situation.
It is clear that the President still intended to propose the minimum constitutional
changes referred to above. Most Western observers have assumed that at this
stage the Army, which means General Yahya, was prepared to run no risks and
told Ayub to go. More informed opinion, however, suggests that the course of
events was more complicated than this. It had now become doubtful whether, if
the President summoned the National Assembly, he would be able to secure the
necessary majority (two-thirds of the sitting members) to enact amendments
which he would be prepared to accept. This doubt was very realistic, since not
only had the Awami League given notice of an amendment which in the President's
view would have destroyed the unity of
Be that as it may, on
64. The proclamation of Martial Law was followed by the institution of special courts of criminal jurisdiction. Strikes, lock-outs and unauthorised meetings were forbidden under heavy penalties, and drastic punishments were prescribed for arson, looting, smuggling and other offences against the Martial Law administration. These regulations made their impact at once and law and order were rapidly restored.
During March, widespread disorder had seriously disrupted industry and commerce
in certain areas though the Tea Districts were undisturbed. The effects of the
disturbances were felt by businessmen in two ways. In the first place, lack of
confidence led to a considerable transfer of funds from East to
REFLECTIONS ON THE TWO REVOLUTIONS
66. The causes of the 1958 Revolution may be summarised as follows:
underlying cause of the Revolution was the lack of any coherent public opinion.
67. Parties grew up round personalities and except perhaps for the Muslim League, few of them had any definite creed. There were thus no foundations for stable Parliamentary Government. Party politics became merely an opportunists' game. Members of the Assembly changed parties at convenience, and parties themselves changed policies radically on grounds of expediency - a fact well illustrated by the complete turn-round of the Republicans with regard to One Unit. The Legislatures became objects of contempt for those who thought about these matters at all.
A second effect of the lack of public opinion was the unconstrained growth of
financial corruption on a large scale amongst Ministers and senior officials.
Corruption at low level had been taken for granted in British days, but
licensing and controls had now become the means by which the rulers of
Regionalism was also a powerful factor and the spectacular defeat of the Muslim
something to stem this current of feeling but for the serious clash between him
and the President. The new men, such as Mujibur Rahman, who now emerged in
71. Above all, it is to be remembered that the Revolution was the work of the Army and not the public. For the reasons set out above, the Army was sick of rule by the politicians and for the same reasons the public either accepted the Revolution with relief, or at least acquiesced in it.
Up to here, this note has been purely factual, but a speculative thought may be
advanced. There is some ground for thinking that whereas in
could ignore them. The Muslim League, on the other hand, was more regimented by a few leaders. Is this a reflection of the difference between the Hindu and Muslim background? Is it the case that Islam has always combined social equality with political regimentation, whereas in Hinduism, although there is no pretence of social equality, the tradition of democracy in the Panchayats is age-long?
The speculation in this paragraph is only included to provoke thought and its soundness or otherwise is irrelevant to the rest of the note.
73. Any parallel drawn between the Revolutions of 1958 and 1969 would be misleading. The earlier Revolution was entirely the work of the Army. The public acquiesced in it or even approved of it, but did nothing to bring it about. In 1969, on the other hand, the motive force was a popular uprising which the Army had to be called in to quell. Again, the 1958 Revolution was the result of disgust with the effects of democratic government, whereas in 1969 the demand for the restoration of such a form of government was widespread. The evils which attended that system before 1958 had been forgotten - and moreover, a new generation had been deeply affected by the rebellion of youth throughout the world. Again, in spite of general discontent, in 1958 law and order were still well maintained. In 1969 they had completely broken down over large areas. The resentment at the corruption of the ruling class was a common factor in both movements, but by itself it probably would not have been sufficient to trigger off revolution in 1969. The antagonism between the East and West Wings played its part in both Revolutions, but it was not as potent a force in 1958 as in 1969.
74. The fundamental causes of the 1969 Revolution were two in number - the passionate desire for the return to the Parliamentary system of government and the fissiparous tendencies of the regions. As regards the first of these factors, both before
and after Partition, the intelligentsia had taken profound interest in parliamentary activities and the exercise of power, and it could have been taken for granted that if ever the grip of a benevolent dictatorship were relaxed, they would again insist on sharing effectively in the business of government.
Regional hostility was exacerbated by the undisguised contempt of the West Wing
for the East Wing, and by the fact that until the last few years the economic
76. Regional tensions between the constituent elements of the West Wing have always existed, but they increased when it was felt that the authority of the Centre was being weakened. However sensible the political union of Sindhis, Punjabis, Pathans and Baluchis may have been - and this is a matter of opinion -- it could only be maintained harmoniously either by such a degree of decentralisation as to make it innocuous, or by firm Central control. In 1969 neither of these conditions prevailed.
Personal and sectional factors were also at work. Many politically minded
Pakistanis had been antagonised by the perfectly justifiable action taken by
the President against corrupt politicians and officials of the old regime.
These resentments were bound to come to the front if ever the grip of the
President was loosened. The President's descent into the political arena,
together with the attacks made on him over the Tashkent Agreement and the
criticism of his overall direction of the campaign against
78. A subsidiary factor was the growth of corruption at high levels in the last few years of Ayub's personal rule. It has not been suggested that he lost his own integrity, but the economic scandals connected with his family and the notorious corruption of some of his Ministers and Governors, gave a great handle to his enemies. To these factors must be added the growing isolation of the President. By 1968 he had quarrelled with all his old advisers and had no means of keeping in touch with public feeling. He had to face the problem which continually haunted the Moghul Emperors. If an Emperor had close confidents, in due course they rebelled against him.
Arrogance of Pakistani officials and the contempt which they showed for the
ordinary public bred almost universal dislike of the Ayub regime. The top level
officials with whom most British people deal were not quite so arrogant --
though even with them authoritarianism and arbitrariness were normal - but the
officials at lower levels treated the
80. It has been suggested that after his illness the President was less capable of taking decisions than before it and that it was for this reason that he failed to make concessions to popular demands while there was still time. It cannot be said that there is any direct evidence of such a failure of power of decision. Insensitivity to, or lack of comprehension of the feelings of East Pakistanis is another matter and was always present, but even as recently as January 1969 the President gave the writer the impression of being relaxed and confident and perhaps not fully aware that the pressure of public opinion was becoming almost irresistible.
Two other suggestions have been made with regard to which it is not yet
possible to take a definite view. The first is that Chinese influence has been
at work in
82. The Future: It is impossible at the moment to make any confident prediction, and the following suggestions as to what may happen must be regarded as mere guesses.
Martial Law was proclaimed on
Martial Law comes to an end, there will be a return to direct elections on the
basis of adult suffrage and Ministerial responsibility to the Legislature. West
Pakistanis left to themselves might be content with some approximation to the
Presidential system, but it is most unlikely that
for long to be compatible with the maintenance of a common currency is open to doubt.
will be matters of hard bargaining. Probably very few East Pakistanis want
anything which would be called complete secession, but there '1a always a risk
that the vehemence of their own demands may force them to go further than they
wish, or that if
is difficult to feel that a semi-autonomous
observers suggest that an autonomous
general demand for a greater measure of regional autonomy and the profound
antagonism between Sindhis, Pathans and Punjabis may lead to tile break up of
One Unit. This would not necessarily be a catastrophe and the political outlook
economic prospects of East and
April, 1969 F.J. Griffiths
Source: The British Papers – Secret and Confidential