Elec-tion-ary: Election-in-1970

Published: April 11, 2013
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The National Assembly of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP/FILE

The National Assembly of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: After the Constitution came into force, the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan became the first National Assembly of the country in 1956.

The Constitution prescribed a governance system term comprising a president and a National Assembly besides two provincial assemblies in East and West Pakistan. The NA was to consist of 300 members, half of whom would be elected by constituencies in East Pakistan and the other by constituencies in West Pakistan. Ten seats were reserved for women, five each for the provinces. With the adoption of the Constitution, then governor general Iskandar Mirza became the president of Pakistan. General elections, under the new Constitution, were to be held on November 1958 but President Mirza postponed these till February 2, 1959, through an All Parties Conference. Before the first direct elections to the federal legislature could be held, Martial Law was imposed in the country on October 8, 1958. General Ayub Khan took over and abrogated the nascent Constitution.

On March 5, 1956, Major General Iskandar Mirza became the first elected president of Pakistan. The 1956 Constitution provides for parliamentary form of government with all the executive powers in the hands of the prime minister. The President was head of the State and was to be elected by all members of the National and Provincial Assemblies. He was to hold office for 5 years. The president was to act on the advice of the prime minister, except where he was empowered to act in his discretion.

However, in the absence of any law to control political parties and the issue of floor crossing, political instability perpetually ensued. Although the first general elections were scheduled for early 1959, President Iskandar Mirza abrogated the Constitution, dissolved the National and Provincial Assemblies, and declared Martial Law, on October 7, 1958. He appointed General Muhammad Ayub Khan, commander-in-chief of the army, as the Chief Martial Law Administrator.

(Courtesy: Free and Fair Election Network and NA website)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2013.

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