Crisis Prone Governance At The Inception Of Pakistan

ByHoor Asrar Rauf

A national swimming champion and recently Graduated from UCF-USA in Hospitality and Event Management


June 25, 2023

Crisis Prone Governance At The Inception Of Pakistan

Hoor Asrar re-opens a painful chapter of Pakistani history

Crisis Prone Governance At The Inception Of Pakistan – Pakistan’s creation was an example of democratic governance winning over arbitrary decision making. Though the governance process was consensual in essence but the socio-political environment of the areas that constituted Pakistan had little to do with such perspectives and this dichotomy became evident just before Pakistan came into existence and immediately after Pakistan came into being. The internecine war mongering political elements in the country was most prominent in Punjab, the largest province in the western wing of Pakistan. The resultant beginnings of political life in Pakistan were certainly not auspicious as the political quarrels in Punjab reduced the political viability of the politicians and they lost their position in the eyes of the bureaucracy. The inadequacy of the municipal level political leadership was looked down upon the bureaucratic machinery of the country that was the veteran of the British colonial management system and could not be convinced on following the policies of the political class that they viewed as novice. Subsequently public officials paid no attention to their demands or pleadings and instructed the administrative functionaries to ignore the political elements and follow what the administrative apparatus asked them to do.

Another complication was the British high-level politico-administrative functionaries controlling the helm of affairs particularly the British governor of Punjab, Francis Mudie who could not develop comfortable working relationship with the provincial political representatives. He was apparently loyal to the central leadership that appointed him to his position and he followed what the centre instructed. It should be kept in view that Punjab was under governor’s rule at the time of independence as the opposing provincial elements failed to devise an understanding to govern. The jostling for power between Pakistan Muslim League and the experienced politicians belonging to long-serving Unionist Party made it practically impossible to arrive at a ruling formula. The governor’s rule was obviously not conducive to the political bickering but the politician’s ploy to counter this problem was to shift the blame on to governor Mudie but keeping in view that he was supported by the centre this ploy also failed to work.

In the meanwhile, in order to counter the lack of strength PM Liaqat Ali Khan authorised Punjab Muslim League to nominate persons of its choice to serve as advisors to the governor in various departments. Mudie did not like this arrangement, and once his opposition was not entertained he resigned giving way to Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar who was from the other province but was a stalwart of the Pakistan movement. From then onward, the office of the governor was effectively neutralised and the affairs then began to take place between the central and provincial political elements. The newly appointed advisors remained in office until August 1950 playing their respective roles that sullied the political matters in Punjab with the administrative apparatus of the state gaining ascending ultimately. This pattern of governance did not allow the political operatives to exercise adequate influence.

The primary character involved in the first major political feud in Pakistan was Mian Mumtaz Daultana who has since failed to win positive reviews about his role in politics. The political sagacity he possessed was never fully appreciated by his political colleagues though he was the first independent voice that emerged from the indigenous political leadership of Punjab. He was in favour of letting the local politicians run the show as they were more aware of the ground realities existing in the new country and particularly the largest province of the western part of Pakistan.

Mumtaz Daultana grew up in the inclusive environment of the Unionist Punjab as his father was a renowned Unionist and political figure in the pre-partition era. He acquired his education from the pluralistic Government College Lahore, and then, as was the wont of landed aristocracy went to England to obtain a law degree. On coming back he followed in the footsteps of his father and chose a political career but went against the grain of Unionist creed and joined Muslim League in 1942. In 1946, Mumtaz Daultana was elected on the ticket of Muslim League and in the newly created state of Pakistan became the first finance Minister of Punjab in 1947.

The creation of the new country saw Nawab Mamdot installed as CM of Punjab and Daultana was assigned as his finance minister. The problems however cropped up when differences developed within the ruling figures just four months after the creation of the new country as Daultana and his colleague Sardar Shaukat Hayat protested that Mamdot ignored the cabinet and instead relied upon the advice of a few civil servants and some of his cronies, particularly Hamid Nizami, editor of Nawa-i-Waqt. They threatened to resign.

Quaid-e-Azam summoned them to Karachi and sensing that Daultana was intellectually more accomplished than Mamdot, offered to take Mamdot as a minister in the central cabinet and leave Daultana to be the chief minister in Punjab. But Daultana became coy and denied that his differences with Mamdot arose from personal ambition. It was decided that they will bury their differences and work together. But within days they began to quarrel again constraining Quaid-e-Azam to leave the matter to British Governor Sir Francis Mudie to settle.

To counter Daultana’s efforts to unseat him, Mamdot went to the legislative party and obtained a vote of confidence but Daultana resigned from his position. After the demise of the Quaid, PM Liaquat Ali Khan urged Mamdot to invite Daultana back into his cabinet who agreed but later changed his mind and told the prime minister that he could not work with Daultana leaving Daultana with no choice but to figure out an alternate way out.

Daultana turned his attention to the party organisation and by the end of 1948 decided to run for the office of party president against Mamdot’s nominee, Alauddin Siddiqui and won by a small margin. He showed his strength by comparing the party to the parliament and insisted that the government should be accountable to the party and called for Mamdot’s resignation for having failed to meet the people’s problems. The competition between them spread not only to lower levels in the party organisation but also to various echelons in the public service. Hafiz Abdul Majid, chief secretary to the provincial government, protested against political interference in the day-to-day work of public officials but Mamdot’s friends convinced him that the chief secretary had spoken as Daultana’s partisan.

An interesting episode reveals the genesis of future political happenings when both Daultana and Mamdot presented the PM Khan lists of their supporters in the provincial assembly of 81 in which it was noticed that 7 names and signatures out of 42 and 44 names shown by Daultana and Mamdot respectively as their supporters were similar! Instead of asking the contending politicians to prove their strength in the legislature the PM decided to dismiss the Mamdot ministry as he leaned more on indigenous Daultana seeking his support instead of relying on Mamdot who had migrated from East Punjab. It was another instance when the central government dismissed a provincial government and it became a very potent precedent for the future. The Weekender


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