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ELECTIONS OF 1965

Ayub Khan took over the body politic of Pakistan in 1958. He dominated the politics of Pakistan for almost a decade. Ayub Khan promulgated a new presidential constitution in 1962. Presidential elections were held in Pakistan on January 2, 1965.It was a memorable occasion as the it was year of first indirect elections. The vote was held amongst the 80,000 “basic democrats.” These basic democrats were members of the urban and regional councils. Elections were significant as a woman was contesting the highest political office of the country. The orthodox religious political parties, including the Jamaat-i-Islami led by Maulana Maududi, modified their stance and supported the candidature of Miss Fatima Jinnah. The election showed that the people had no prejudice against women holding high offices. Women could be key players in politics of the country. Ayub Khan, however, win the elections and further rule the contry in coming years. Presidential candidates for the elections of 1965 were announced before commencement of the Basic Democracy elections, which was to constitute the Electoral College for the Presidential and Assembly elections. There were two major parties contesting the election: the Convention Muslim League and the Combined Opposition Parties. The Combined Opposition Parties consisted of five major opposition parties. It had a nine-point program, which included restoration of direct elections, adult franchise and democratization of the 1962 Constitution. The opposition parties of Combined Opposition Parties were not united and did not possess any unity of thought and action. Ayub Khan was nominated by the Convention Muslim League party while COP nominated Miss Fatima Jinnah. She did not take part in any political activity after independence. She accepted the candidature as she was strongly in favour of democratic ideals. She sympathized with the opposition party and contested the elections. There were four candidates; Ayub Khan, Miss Fatima Jinnah and two persons with no party affiliation in the 1965 elections. There was a short campaigning period of one month. It was further restricted to nine meetings that were organized by the Election Commission. These meetings were attended only by the members of the Electoral College and members of the press. The public was barred to attend the projection meetings as it would have enhanced Miss Fatima Jinnah’s image. In 1964, Ayub confident in his apparent popularity and seeing deep divisions within the political opposition, called for Presidential elections. He was taken by surprise when opposition parties dropped General Azam as a presidential candidate. The joint opposition agreed on supporting the respected and popular Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Miss Fatima Jinnah Had certain advantage over Ayub Khan and other candidates. Miss Jinnah’s greatest advantage was that she was the sister of the Founder of Pakistan. She had detached herself from the politics after the Founder’s death. She moved in the streets of big cities and in the rural areas. She declared Ayub Khan as a dictator. Miss Jinnah’s line of attack was that by coming to terms with India on the Indus Water dispute, Ayub had surrendered control of the rivers over to India. She generated tremendous public enthusiasm. She drew enormous crowds in all cities of East and West Pakistan. Ayub Khan had a great advantage over the rest of the candidates. The Second Amendment of the Constitution confirmed him as President till the election of his successor. He exercised complete control over all governmental machinery during elections. He utilized the state facilities as head of state, not as the President of the Convention Muslim League and did not even hesitate to legislate on electoral maters. Bureaucracy and business helped him in his election campaign. Being a political opportunist, he brought all the discontented elements together to support him. Students were assured the revision of the University Ordinance and journalists the scrutiny of the Press Laws. Ayub Khan also gathered the support of the ulema who believe Islam does not permit a woman to be the head of an Islamic state. Miss Fatima Jinnah lost the election of 1965 and Ayub Khan was elected as the President of Pakistan. On the indirect ballot, Ayub Khan defeated Fatima Jinnah by taking 64% of the vote. The PML secured a thumping majority of 120 seats in those elections. The opposition could clinch only 15 seats. Combined Opposition Party (COP) won 10 seats. The rest of the seats went to the independents. The election did not conform to international standards and journalists. It is widely held, that the elections were rigged in favour of Ayub Khan using state patronage. He influenced the indirectly elected Electoral Colleges.

About Usama Majeed

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