Post Partition Pakistan #17 Historical Developments 1955-1960

Pakistan's Political History (1955-1960): The Struggle for Stability and Democratic Transition


The period from 1955 to 1960 in Pakistan’s political history was marked by significant developments and challenges as the nation worked to establish a stable political system, finalize its constitution, and define its identity as an independent state. This article explores key events, constitutional progress, political dynamics, social changes, religious issues, and economic developments during this transformative period.


  • Second Constituent Assembly (July 1955): The second Constituent Assembly, elected in 1954, continued the work of drafting Pakistan’s constitution. It was tasked with addressing issues related to federalism, provincial autonomy, and governance.
  • One Unit Abolished (July 1955): The One Unit Scheme, which had merged the provinces of West Pakistan into a single administrative unit in 1954, was abolished. This marked a significant step towards greater provincial autonomy.


  • First Constitution of Pakistan (March 1956): Pakistan adopted its first constitution on March 23, 1956, officially becoming the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This marked a crucial milestone in the nation’s history.
  • First General Elections (March 1956): Pakistan conducted its first general elections under the new constitution, electing its first National Assembly and provincial assemblies.


  • Ismail Ibrahim Chundrigar Becomes Prime Minister (October 1957): Ismail Ibrahim Chundrigar served as Pakistan’s Prime Minister for a brief period, attempting to address the country’s political and economic challenges.
  • Appointment of President Iskander Mirza: President Iskander Mirza played a significant role in Pakistan’s political landscape, including his role in appointing Prime Ministers.


  • Second Martial Law (October 1958): General Ayub Khan led a second martial law coup, dismissing the civilian government and suspending the 1956 constitution. This marked a return to military rule in Pakistan.

Constitutional Developments:

During this period, Pakistan achieved a major milestone by adopting its first constitution in 1956, which declared the country as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The abolition of the One Unit Scheme in 1955 signaled progress toward greater provincial autonomy.

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Political Movements:

Political dynamics included the struggle to define the balance of power between the federal and provincial governments. The first general elections in 1956 were a significant step toward democratic governance.

Social and Religious Developments:

Social changes occurred as Pakistan continued to define its identity as an Islamic state. The adoption of the Objective Resolution as the preamble to the constitution in 1956 emphasized Islamic principles.

Economic Progress:

The period saw the initiation of the First Five-Year Plan (1955-1960) to promote economic development, industrialization, and infrastructure improvement.

Leadership and Key Figures:

Key leaders during this period included Prime Ministers Ismail Ibrahim Chundrigar and Sir Feroz Khan Noon. President Iskander Mirza’s role in political developments was also significant.

  • Ismail Ibrahim Chundrigar (1957): Ismail Ibrahim Chundrigar served as Pakistan’s Prime Minister in 1957 for a brief period, attempting to address political and economic challenges.
  • Sir Feroz Khan Noon (1957-1958): Sir Feroz Khan Noon became Pakistan’s Prime Minister in 1957. His tenure was marked by political instability and the eventual imposition of martial law.
  • General Ayub Khan (1958): General Ayub Khan led a military coup in October 1958, dismissing the civilian government and suspending the 1956 constitution. He assumed control of the country, marking the return to military rule.
  • Iskander Mirza (1956-1958): Iskander Mirza served as Pakistan’s first President after the country adopted its first constitution in 1956. His role included appointing Prime Ministers and shaping political developments.
  • Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy: Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a prominent political figure, served as Pakistan’s Prime Minister from 1957 to 1958, during a period of political turbulence.


The period from 1955 to 1960 was marked by constitutional progress, including the adoption of Pakistan’s first constitution and the conduct of general elections. It also saw the abolition of the One Unit Scheme, indicating greater provincial autonomy. However, the return to military rule in 1958 under General Ayub Khan signaled political instability. Despite challenges, Pakistan continued to navigate its path towards political stability and democratic governance, with the adoption of the 1956 constitution as a key milestone. The period laid the groundwork for the country’s future political landscape and its ongoing efforts to define its identity as an independent and Islamic state.

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