The general elections in Pakistan to elect a new government is underway amidst tight security but reports of violence including a suicide blast have once again exposed the poor preparedness on the part of the government in ensuring rights of its citizens to elect a government of their choice are not suppressed. While this is not the first time when the citizens of the Islamic nation face a situation when they fear coming out to vote, they do certainly know that the right to exercise their franchise in the country is merely symbolic as the main power lies in the hands of the military.
So, as Imran Khan and Shahbaz Sharif lock horns in a bitter battle for the post of Prime Minister, they sure would have their nation’s chequered past in mind. Pakistan has seen many elections in its 70-year history and leaders claim that there is an established democratic set up in the country. However, a look at the nation’s history throws up contradictory facts. The country has a distinction unparalleled by any other democratic country in the world, including India. This southeast Asian country has never seen even a single Prime Minister completing his/her full five-years term in the last 70 years.
As Pakistan votes today, we bring to you the full list of PMs who were either dismissed, dissolved, assassinated or overthrown by the powerful military before they could vacate office on the completion of their tenure.
Liaquat Ali Khan, August 15, 1947 to October 16, 1951: He was appointed as the first Prime Minister of Pakistan by then Governor-General in 1947. He was, however, assassinated in 1951.
Khawaja Nazimuddin, October 17, 1951 to April 17, 1953: Nazimuddin was forced to vacate his office when then Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad dissolved his government.
Muhammad Ali Bogra, April 17, 1953 to August 12, 1955: Bogra was dismissed by then Governor General Iskander Mirza.
Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, August 12, 1955 to September 12, 1956: Ali had quit due to conflicts with then Governor General.
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, September 12, 1956 to October 17, 1957: He resigned due to differences with Iskander Mirza. Suhrawardy was the first Awami League leader to head a government in Pakistan.
Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar, October 17, 1957 to December 16, 1957: He was forced to resign from the post after then President’s refusal to convene a meeting of the Parliament to seek a vote of confidence. He was leader of the Muslim League.
Feroz Khan Noon, December 16, 1957 to October 7, 1958: The Republican Party leader Noon was dismissed during the 1958 Pakistani coup d’état.
Ayub Khan, October 24, 1958 to October 28, 1958: On October 27 in 1958, Iskander Mirza himself was deposed by Gen. Ayub Khan. The country’s first military coup followed a period of prolonged political instability. Ayub Khan cleverly combined the offices of the Prime Minister and President and managed to remain in the office till March 25, 1969.
Nurul Amin, December 7, 1971 to December 20, 1971: Amin was the only Bengali appointed as Prime Minister of Pakistan. He resigned after he was made the Vice President of Pakistan (December 20, 1971 to April 21, 1972).
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, August 14, 1973 to July 5, 1977: He was deposed in the 1977 Pakistani coup d’état by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who ruled the country as the President for 11 years until his death in a plane crash on August 17 1998. He remains Pakistan’s longest-serving de facto head of state.
Muhammad Khan Junejo, March 24, 1985 to May 29, 1988: The Pakistan Muslim League had won the elections that were held in February 1985. Junejo was then made the 10th PM of Pakistan but he was dismissed by then President after the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
Benazir Bhutto, December 2, 1988 to August 6, 1990: Elections in Pakistan were held in November 1988. This time, Pakistan Peoples Party won the elections with Bhutto being elected as the Prime Minister – the first woman in the world to head a Muslim majority nation. Her government was, however, dismissed on August 7, 1990 by the then President who accused her administration of corruption and nepotism.
Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, August 6, 1990 to November 6, 1990: Jatoi was appointed as Pakistan’s PM by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan as a caretaker Prime Minister after Bhutto’s dismissal.
Nawaz Sharif, November 6, 1990 to April 18, 1993: Elections were again held in October 1990. Sharif, an influential businessman, was elected as the 12th PM of Pakistan. His government was, however, dismissed by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Sharif’s government then moved the Supreme Court contesting the President’s order. The court had set aside the President’s order and reinstated by Sharif’s government.
Balakh Sher Mazari, April 18, 1993 to May 26, 1993: After dismissing Nawaz Sharif from office on April 18, Ghulam Ishaq Khan had appointed a caretaker government headed by Mazari. His term ended when the Supreme Court overturned then President’s order and restored the government headed by Nawaz Sharif.
Nawaz Sharif, May 26, 1993 to July 18, 1993: After Supreme Court’s order, Nawaz Sharif again entered the PM’s office. He, however, within two months resigned from the post after negotiating a settlement that also saw the removal of President of the day as well.
Moeenuddin Ahmad Qureshi, July 18, 1993 to Oct 19, 1993: After Sharif’s resignation that also resulted into the removal of the President, Qureshi was appointed as the caretaker Prime Minister.
Benazir Bhutto, October 19, 1993 to November 5, 1996: Again elections were held in Pakistan. Bhutto, a Shia but later converted into Sunni, again was made the Prime Minister. She survived an attempted coup d’état in 1995. But in November 1996, her government was dismissed by the President Farooq Leghari.
Malik Meraj Khalid, November 5, 1996 to February 17, 1997: After dismissal of Bhutto from the PM’s office, Khalid was appointed as the caretaker PM.
Nawaz Sharif, February 17, 1997 to October 12, 1999: Pakistan again went to the elections. This time, Nawaz Sharif returned to the power, But in October 1999, his government was deposed by General Pervez Musharraf and Martial law was imposed in the country.
Zafarullah Khan Jamali, November 21, 2002 to June 26, 2004: When elections were held in October 2002, Jamali was elected as the Prime Minister. Though he continues the policies of Musharraf, he was not allowed to complete his term.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, June 30, 2004 to August 20, 2004: Hussain had served as the 14th PM of Pakistan on a temporary basis during a transitional period to accommodate Shaukat Aziz.
Shaukat Aziz, August 20, 2004 to November 16, 2007: After Jamali’s resignation, Aziz was nominated by the Musharraf loyalist government led by Pakistan Muslim League (Q), for the position of Prime Minister. He vacated the office on November 16, 2007, at the end of the Parliamentary term and becoming the first PM who left seat after completion of five years term.
Muhammad Mian Soomro, November 16, 2007 to March 28, 2008: Soomro was appointed as caretaker PM at the expiration of the term of Aziz. His term ended on 25 March 2008 when Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani of the PPP was sworn in as the Prime Minister.
Yousaf Raza Gillani, March 28, 2008 to June 19, 2012: In February 2008, elections were held in Pakistan. The PPP won the elections with Gillani becoming the 19th Prime Minister of the country. However, he was disqualified from his seat in April 2012 by the Supreme Court for contempt of court.
Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, June 22, 2012 to March 25, 2013: He was made the Prime Minister following Gillani’s disqualification. Ashraf too was disqualified over contempt of court charges.
Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, March 25, 2013 to June 5, 2013: He served as the caretaker PM of Pakistan for a brief period of 3 months.
Nawaz Sharif, June 5, 2013 to July 28, 2017: When elections were held in May 2013, PML-N of Nawaz Sharif emerged as the single largest party. The party with support from independents and small parties formed the government under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif. But the Supreme Court on July 28, 2017 disqualified him for the life for his involvement in graft cases. Sharif has a record to his name of being Pakistan’s longest-serving elected Prime Minister since its creation in 1947.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, August 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018: Abbasi was made PM after the Supreme Court”s order to disqualify Nawaz Sharif from office. His term ended on May 31 2018. On June 1, 2018, Nasirul Mulk, the 22nd Chief Justice of Pakistan, was appointed as a caretaker PM by the National Assembly after a consensus between Abbasi and opposition leader Khurshid Shah.