Who Was President Major General Iskander Mirza?
Martial law was imposed in Lahore against the anti-Qadiani campaign on March 6, 1953. Meanwhile, a special court sentenced Maulana Maududi and Maulana Abdul Sattar Niazi to death, which was later suspended.
Many scholars had to bear the hardships of detention from Karachi and Punjab. Iskander Mirza’s grudge against the scholars was also included in these punishments.
Punjab Chief Minister Mumtaz Daultana had also angered Iskandar Mirza, so Mirza asked the Prime Minister to dismiss Daultana from the ministry and appointed his friend Malik Feroze Khan Noon as the Chief Minister of Punjab in his place.
In the center, Malik Ghulam Muhammad Governor General, Finance Minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, and Iskandar Mirza together declared Khawaja Nazimuddin ineligible and demanded his resignation.
But the Prime Minister was not ready to resign. After this refusal, the Governor General deposed the Prime Minister on April 17.
Khawaja Nazimuddin did not show any particular reaction and left the Prime Ministership.
The name of Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Muhammad Ali Bogra was suggested for the new Prime Minister and the recommender was Foreign Minister Sir Zafarullah Khan.
Bogra was a friend of Iskandar Mirza but he too could not prove to be a good Prime Minister. All the people in his cabinet were of mediocre ability. Bogra was a Bengali but the leaders of Bengal were also angry with him.
During his tenure, the Muslim League suffered a lot in East Pakistan. It was during this period that non-Bengalis were massacred in Aadamji Jute Mill Narayanganj and other industrial units.
And throughout East Pakistan, the rule of law became quite weak.
On this occasion, Governor General Ghulam Muhammad and Prime Minister Bogra appointed Iskandar Mirza as the Governor of East Pakistan with special powers.
Thus, Mirza left the post of Defense Secretary and assumed the post of Governor of East Pakistan. He started the process of correcting the law and order of the province.
He ended the rule of Chief Minister AK Fazlul Haq and reorganized the police.
He reduced the influence of trade unions and started working in industrial units.
The Panchayat system was introduced from village to village thus enforcing the rule of law.
His prestige was thus greatly enhanced, as the Mirza once again succeeded in establishing complete peace and order in Bengal.
In Iskandar Mirza’s absence, relations between Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad and Prime Minister Bogra deteriorated.
On September 21, 1954, the Prime Minister along with the Bengali members and Khawaja Nazimuddin hastily passed a resolution to curtail the powers of the Governor General.
Which included that the Governor General cannot issue any order without the advice of the Prime Minister. At that time the Governor General was in North Pakistan.
On his return to Karachi on October 24, the Governor General declared an emergency and dismissed the Constituent Assembly itself. And election negotiations for a new Constituent Assembly began.
Major General Iskander Mirza was in London on leave. Pakistani Ambassador Hasan Isfahani informed him that Prime Minister Bogra would meet him at London Airport on his way to America. Coincidentally, General Muhammad Ayub Khan was also in London at that time.
The whole group gathered at the airport. He had received news that the Governor General was thinking of imposing martial law.
It was a golden opportunity for Ayub Khan but in Iskandar Mirza’s opinion, Ayub Khan promised not to take any action.
On his return to Karachi, the Governor General ordered the Prime Minister to form a new cabinet and told that Iskander Mirza, Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, Hasan Isfahani, and General Ayub should be included in the new cabinet.
When the cabinet was announced, Iskandar Mirza was given the post of interior minister, Chaudhry Muhammad Ali as finance minister, and General Ayub Khan as defense minister. Prime Minister Bogra had to compete with two big political leaders in the political field, they were Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy and Dr. Khan Sahib.
Both these leaders had strong popular support in their areas and Suhrawardy was a strong politician of great stature. On the other hand, Iskandar Mirza had become “King Maker”.
His relations with the US were also very good as his son Syed Humayun Mirza was married to the daughter of the US ambassador to Pakistan, Howrah Hildreth.
When Mirza took oath in the Bogra cabinet, the period of government employment ended and after 24 October 1954, he entered the political arena. He was the son of Mir Jafar,
Politics and palace conspiracies were part of his blood. At that time Iskandar Mirza was the strongest pillar of Pakistani politics. And he was remembered as “King Maker”.
Major General Iskander Mirza
In August 1955, Iskandar Mirza assumed the post of Governor General.
His power was further strengthened, Muhammad Ali Bogra resigned and was sent as ambassador to the United States. After that, Iskandar Mirza was the owner of Pakistan’s black and white.
The army chief and other generals also believed him.
Now Mirza played the game with the political environment of the country that the prime minister and the cabinet no longer mattered.
And the government remains a “House of Musical Chairs”.
Iskandar Mirza also showed the feat of persuading Dr. Khan Sahib, the brother of Gandhi Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who was the most opposed to One Unit, to become the first Chief Minister of One Unit.
Then a new political party Liberal Democratic Party was formed by Dr. Khan Sahib.
After Muhammad Ali Bogra, he appointed Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, the head of the Muslim League, as the Prime Minister.
He assumed the Prime Ministership along with the United Front of Bengal. The United Front was headed by AK Fazlul Haq. Now the preparation of the constitution of Pakistan started.
Differences arose between Iskandar Mirza and Prime Minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali in the matter of the constitution.
Iskandar Mirza was a supporter of American style presidential system while the prime minister was a supporter of British style democracy.
In this, Chaudhry Muhammad Ali and his supporters won and the constitution was based on the 1935 India Act.
Finally, on January 8, 1956, the draft constitution was published to the public. Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy refused to sign this constitution.
But despite Suhrawardy’s opposition, the Constitution of 1956 was approved on February 17
Under this constitution, Iskander Mirza was elected unopposed as the President of Pakistan and on March 6, he took oath in Parliament. After that, on 23 March 1956, this constitution was implemented throughout Pakistan.
In West Pakistan, the political conflict between Nawab Mushtaq Gormani and Mumtaz Daultana became critical.
Nawab Gormani won the support of the Republican Party over Daultana. Prime Minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali was disgusted by this political conflict.
His grip on the Muslim League was getting weaker. Many Muslim League members joined the Republican Party at the behest of President Iskandar Mirza.
The Prime Minister handed over the leadership of the Muslim League to Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar.
But the Muslim League government had fallen and President Mirza was also disappointed with Chaudhry Muhammad Ali.
Chaudhry Muhammad Ali was an honest and intelligent person, he recognized the direction of the winds and decided not to clash with President Mirza and resigned from the Prime Ministership.
However, by that time the majority of his supporters were established in the National Assembly. President Mirza also apparently advised him not to resign.
If the Prime Minister resigned from the Prime Ministership on September 1956.
President Mirza now invited Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardi to form the government, thus Suhrawardi’s old wish was fulfilled.
Suhrawardy took over the government and brought the situation under control very quickly. The Republican Party was his ally in West Pakistan, very soon he took control of the country’s situation.
But in October 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced the nationalization of the Suez Canal.
In response, France and Great Britain landed their troops in the Suez Canal area. Prime Minister Suhrawardy was on a visit to China at that time.
President Mirza requested the Shah of Iran to convene a conference of all the countries of the Baghdad Pact.
He was in Iran for a meeting when news broke that Prime Minister Suhrawardy had returned from China and announced that he was considering expelling Pakistan from the Commonwealth in response to the British attack.
President Mirza immediately sent a letter from his military secretary to Karachi. Suhrawardy arrived in Tehran on November 5, but further angered the British delegation by his attitude.
In fact, politically, the opposition to Egypt in the country was against his party policy. He apparently obeyed Iskandar Mirza and kept silent.
But on reaching Karachi, Suhrawardy’s Awami League protested against the president’s “pro-Westernism”. After which the relationship between President Mirza and the Prime Minister became very strained.