The Shift of Power from the Public Representatives to the Bureaucratic and Military Elite: Case Study of the First Decade of Pakistan


  • Muhammad Mustafa Raza
  • Muhammad Moiz Khan


A combination of military coups with irregular intervals and failed democratic governments has underpinned Pakistan’s chronic instability. This paper explores the impediments in the path of democracy in Pakistan caused by the entanglement of institutions. The basic democratic principles, on which the movement for the creation of Pakistan was launched and succeeded, were lost within the first decade of independence. Several scholars hold that the people of Pakistan got liberated from the British and Hindu majority to be enslaved by socio-political and military elite. The failure of politicians in devising a viable political system resulted in the bureaucratic-military nexus as they made every effort to curb parliamentary politics. Musical chair game of power became the norm of the day which resulted in the decay of democracy and other institutions. Unlike its counterpart, Indian National Congress, Muslim League due to weak and loose political organization, failed miserably in areas constituting Pakistan which prevented it in playing a consolidating role. Moreover, the threats from India and Afghanistan forced the political leadership to invest heavily in security to deter Indian and Afghan threats. In fact, it was the imbalance between the civil and military components of the state, which became the key reason behind the political chaos in Pakistan during its first decade. The Army emerged as an overwhelming force overpowering all other institutions in the country. Democratic ideals such as rule of people through their representatives, fair representation and provincial autonomy, pronounced in the 1940 Lahore Resolution, were soon forgotten. Weak democratic forces could not compete with the skilled bureaucracy and a powerful army. Such chaotic conditions proved instrumental in leading to the proclamation of the first Martial Law in Pakistan