West Pakistan Established as One Unit


Even after eight years of existence, Pakistan was without a constitution. The main reason was believed to be the fact that there were two unequal wings of Pakistan separated from each other by more than a thousand miles. To diminish the differences between the two regions, the Government of Pakistan decided that all the four provinces and states of West Pakistan should be merged into one unit.

To this end, Prime Minister Muhammad Ali made the first official announcement on November 22, 1954, enumerating the benefits of having one unit or province. On September 30, 1955, the Assembly passed the bill merging 310,000 square miles into a single province, with Lahore as its provincial capital. West Pakistan had formerly comprised three Governor’s provinces, one Chief Commissioner’s province, a number of states that had acceded to Pakistan, and the tribal areas. Geographically, they formed a homogenous block with easy communication, but with marked linguistic and ethnic distinctions. The result of the new bill was to unify these various units into one province to be known as West Pakistan.

The Bill was hailed as a measure of administrative rationalization as it was likely to reduce the administrative expenditure. It was claimed that one unit of West Pakistan would eliminate the curse of provincial prejudices. The problem of representation of various units in the proposed Federal Legislature had been a big hurdle in the way of making a Constitution and it was said that with the removal of this hurdle, the formation of the Constitution would now speed up.

Dr. Khan Sahib was appointed as the first Chief Minister of the One Unit, while Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani was appointed as the first Governor of West Pakistan. Dr. Khan Sahib’s Ministry, however, came to an end when the President himself took over the administration. Subsequently, Sardar Abdur Rashid and Muzzaffar Ali Qazilbash were appointed Chief Ministers of that province in succession.

While the One Unit scheme in West Pakistan could be supported on various grounds, the method of its establishment was not free from criticism. The government wanted to introduce the One Unit Scheme by an executive decree, which it could not do. So the Central Government dismissed the Ministry in Punjab, Sindh and N. W. F. P. One Unit continued until General Yahya Khan dissolved it on July 1, 1970.

This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003