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From to , 22 provincial cabinets were dismissed or forced to resign sparking off the centre-province antagonism that shattered the dream of a decent democracy Ayub Khan with HS Suhrawardy. Interestingly, the All India Muslim League leadership that was so concerned about the possibility of a strong centre dominating over the provinces in India, suddenly became a champion of a strong central government after partition.
Probably it is wrong to suggest that the entire Muslim League was in favour of a strong centre; initially it was the Jinnah-Liaquat duo that kept poking the Central finger into provincial pelvises — disregarding their own Muslim League leaders who could oppose the central command. These gentlemen belonged to civil and military bureaucracy and, incidentally, three of them hailed from West Pakistan.
Initially, the idea of dissolving all provinces in the western wing and merging them into a one unit was floated by Feroz Khan Noon and Jahanara Shahnawaz — both from Punjab — in the Constituent Assembly in March Jinnah and Liaquat are also reported to have considered the idea but no progress was made in this direction when they were alive; probably because they were not from Punjab and, arguably, might have had less intuitive understanding of Bengal-Punjab undercurrents.
Even at that stage, some Muslim League leaders, such as Ch. Khaliquzzaman, expressed their reservations on the scheme. When Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad had dislodged Prime Minister Nazimmudin and had his tentacles firmly wrapped around politicians, he got rid of the first Constituent Assembly and hastily launched his One-Unit project.
The main reason was the landslide victory of the United Front consisting of Bengali leaders who had segued from a religious narrative of the pre-partition days into a nationalist discourse of the post-Nazimuddin period. The victory of Bengali nationalists in East Bengal had upped the ante in favour of the smaller provinces in the western wing too, casting a pall of gloom over Punjab.
December 28 - Famous Birthdays - On This Day
There emerged a possibility that the desire of the civil and military bureaucracy to keep a strong centre within their fold might be thwarted should the smaller provinces side with Bengal.
The challenges the nation faced since Interestingly, the leaders from Punjab, especially Chaudhary M. Ali, Nawab Gurmani, and Daultana; and the prime spokesmen of the army i. Mirza was himself from Bengal but he was a bureaucrat and hated popular politicians especially from his own province, such a Bhashani, Fazlul Haq, and Suhrawardy.
A lack of popular support makes such officers bitter and angry not only at politicians but also against the populace itself. Ayub Khuhro, whom the Centre had previously dismissed twice on corruption charges, was again appointed the Sindh chief minister, obviously as a quid pro quo for his support to the One-Unit scheme.
This set in motion the whole central machinery to secure the provincial approvals. The same day a group of provincial politicians were summoned to Karachi and informed that no further debate on the One Unit would be tolerated by the Centre. The Centre simply wanted the provincial assemblies to rubber stamp the One-Unit resolution drafted in the federal capital, and the removal of Sindh Chief Minister Pirzada was a warning to other provincial assemblies.
In fact, the Centre had already demonstrated its arbitrary powers by dismissing the Constituent Assembly and, prior to that, by removing the United-Front majority government in East Bengal. Pirzada had taken a firm stand against the unification scheme by securing statements from 74 Sindh assembly members against the One-Unit proposal.
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan Bacha Khan was the leading opponent who urged the federal government not to take hasty decisions. Punjab was the only province where the plan sailed smoothly without any resistance. Almost the entire assembly supported the resolution on November 30, On December 6, Chitral Council also announced its support for the proposal.
In Sindh, the situation took an interesting turn where Ayub Khuhro used his clout to get the scheme approved by out of assembly member. This was the same assembly where just a couple of weeks earlier the CM, Pirzada, had the support of 74 members against the One Unit. The turnaround was the simple result of the Central threat to dissolve the assembly in case its members refused the approval.
If somebody has any doubt about why the provincial governments do not stand firm against the intrusion of the federal organs into the matters purely provincial, they should once again read some history and get the answer. On December 14, , a high-level meeting — the One-Unit Conference inaugurated by Ghulam Mohammad — attended by almost all Central ministers from West Pakistan, provincial governors, rulers of states, and provincial and states chief ministers, announced its support for the One-Unit scheme; and two days later, the Muslim League executive committee also accepted it.
December 28 - Famous Birthdays - On This Day
When started, the Khan-e-Azam of Kalat, reportedly under duress, signed the instrument of merger into the West Pakistan Unit, on behalf of the Balochistan Sates Union which included the states of Kalat, Kharan, Lasbela and Makran.
All this hullabaloo received a sudden shock when on February 9, the full bench of the Sindh Chief Court unanimously allowed the petition of Tamizuddin Khan and restored him as the president of the constituent assembly and restrained the Centre from interfering in his functions. In June , the second constituent assembly came into being after indirect elections throughout the country. In July, the first session of the new constituent assembly began at Murree and elected Mushtaq Gurmani as its interim chairman.
A few newly-elected members of the second constituent assembly later revealed that, during the plenary session at Murree, some documents were circulated containing an implementation scheme about the One Unit scheme. These documents were especially given to those members who had a soft corner for the scheme. Though there was no name on the documents, the recipients attributed their authorship to Mumtaz Daultana, and he never denied it.
Sardar Abdur Rashid claimed that a copy of these documents was given to him by Chaudhry Mohammad Ali. On July 13, a five-point agreement was signed by the leaders of various parties; two of the points related to the formation of One Unit and the principle of parity between the two wings, despite the fact that East Bengal had 56 per cent of the total population of Pakistan.
Now the question arises, if all the provincial assemblies and states in West Pakistan had approved the One-Unit scheme and both the PM and the GG had announced the formation of the One-Unit, why this was being one?
Actually, the Federal Court, while upholding the dissolution of the first constituent assembly had barred the GG from issuing executive orders, and had ruled that all constitutional and legislative acts could only be passed by the next CAP constituent assembly of Pakistan.
This verdict had put paid to the steamroller approach and the Centre had to go through the parliamentary approval. According to him the One-Unit scheme was a cover for Punjabi domination. He and his cabinet took oath on July 18 That shows, now instead of fours and fives, now the Ayub-Iskander duo was getting hold of things and they had become the real power brokers. This was further confirmed when On August 6 , a press note was issued announcing the appointment of Major-General Iskander Mirza as acting governor-general replacing Ghulam Mohammad, who went on medical leave for two months.
During all these changes the One-Unit Bill was debated in the new constituent assembly from July to September and was enacted into a law that was enforced on October 14, ; Nawab Gurmani became the governor and Dr Khan Saheb took oath as the chief minister of the new province.