- Published on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 17:25
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On October 7, 1958, President General Iskander Mirza declared Martial Law in Pakistan. Within 20 days of this, he was ousted by the Army Chief General Ayub Khan in a counter coup.
Thus, Ayub’s decade of autocratic rule started. The constitution was abrogated; the national and the provincial assemblies were dissolved; all political activities were banned. A large number of political leaders and activists including Sheikh Mujib were put in jail. 78 politicians including the popular leader Suhrawardy were declared unfit for contesting in elections. Measures were taken to stifle the voice of the press. Moreover, Ayub Khan introduced the so-called Basic Democracy which totally relied on military bureaucracy, substituting direct elections with an Electoral College.
In spite of all repressive measures, Awami League continued functioning, secretively devising ways and means of a possible movement against the Ayub Government. Soon an opportunity presented itself when the government arrested Suhrawardy in Jun, 1962. The news of the arrest spread like wild fire and the students came out to the streets.
The Presidential election of Pakistan was held on January 2, 1965, on the basis of Basic Democracy (the Electoral College comprised only 80,000 voters). Despite the meager chance of winning the election under such a situation, the opposition decided to fight it out jointly. With this end in view and under the auspices of Awami League, a united front named Combined Opposition Party (COP) was formed on July 21, 1964. Miss Fatema Jinnah was nominated the candidate of the COP for the Presidential polls. Although Miss Jinnah lost in the election, her election campaign created a lot of stir in the public. One positive result that emerged from this election was that it exposed the hollowness and anti-people character of the so-called Basic Democracy system.