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First Cabinet (1947)

The newly created state of Pakistan formed its first constituent assembly in August 1947. Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah took oath on 15th August 1947 and became the first Governor General of Pakistan. He exercised a great amount of influence on the provincial, as well as, central affairs. The first cabinet of Pakistan was also created by Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah, after a continuous search for talented administrators.

The first cabinet of Pakistan took oath on 15th August 1947. It included the following members:

Liaquat Ali Khan Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defense

I.I. Chundrigar Minister for Commerce, Industries and Works

Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar Minister for Communications

Raja Ghazanfar Ali Minister for Food, Agriculture and Health (In December he was shifted to Evacuee and Refugee Rehabilitation).

Jogendra Nath Mandal Minister for Labour and Law

Ghulam Muhammad Minister for Finance

Fazlur Rahman Minister for Interior, Information and Education

In December Muhammad Zafrullah Khan was inducted as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Common wealth relations and Abdus Sattar Pirzada was given the portfolio of Food, Agriculture and Health. Raja Ghazanfar Ali’s ministry was changed and he was made in charge of the Ministry of Evacuee and Refugee Rehabilitation.

Quaid-i-Azam also asked for many skilled British technocrats to stay and serve in the Pakistani government; 3 out of the 4 provincial governors were British. Sir Frederick Bourne was the Governor of East Benga, Sir Francis Mudie the Governor of West Punjab and Sir George Cunningham the Governor of N.W.F.P. Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah, the Governor of Sindh) was the only local governor, while Balochistan did not have a governor as it was  Governor-General’s province. All chiefs of the armed forces were British as well – General Sir Frank Messervey chief of the Royal Pakistan Army, Air Vice-Marshal Perry-Keane chief of the Royal Pakistan Air Force, and Admiral Jefford the chief of Royal Pakistan Navy. The financial advisor to the Governor-General, Sir Archibald Rowland, was also British.

During the early days after its creation, Pakistan faced a myriad of crisis and difficulties and the ministers often found themselves helpless to tackle them; so they looked towards Jinnah to help them with these problems. The first cabinet of Pakistan passed a special resolution to allow Jinnah to deal with the problems faced by provincial ministers. Jinnah also helped ministers in policy making. In case of a difference of opinions Quaid’s decision was to be final. All these rights were given to Jinnah until new constitution came into force.

Quaid had a colossal task ahead of him, during the early days of Pakistan but he remained committed in his duties and under his dynamic leadership and guidance the nation proved that it had the determination to succeed. Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah, undoubtedly enjoyed extraordinary powers but these powers were given to him by the Cabinet to meet the unexpected circumstances that clearly demanded extraordinary actions.

Even though nation building has proved to be a difficult task for Pakistan, under the guidance of Jinnah and his competent cabinet members it continued to show its spirit and capacity to survive and adapt to changing circumstances. James A. Muchener, a visitor to Pakistan in the early years, wrote, “I have never seen so hardworking a government as Pakistan’s. It is literally licking itself by its own intellectual book-straps”.

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