West Pakistan

West Pakistan

West Pakistan was the popular and sometimes official (1955–1970) name of the western wing of Pakistan until 1971, when the eastern wing became independent as Bangladesh. The politically dominant western wing was composed of three Governor's provinces (North-West Frontier Province, Punjab and Sind), one Chief Commissioner's province (Baluchistan), the Baluchistan States Union, several other princely states (notably Bahawalpur, Chitral, Dir, Hunza, Khairpur and Swat), the Federal Capital Territory (around Karachi) and the tribal areas.

The eastern wing formed the single province of East Bengal (including the former Assam district of Sylhet), which despite having over half of the population had a disproportionately small number of seats in the Constituent Assembly. This inequality of the two wings and the geographical distance between them was believed to be holding up the adoption of a new constitution. To diminish the differences between the two regions, the government decided to reorganise the country as two distinct provinces under the One Unit policy announced by Prime Minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali on 22 November 1954.


The province of West Pakistan was created in 14 October 1955 by the merger of the provinces, states and tribal areas of the western wing. The province was composed of twelve divisions and the provincial capital was established at Lahore. The province of East Bengal was renamed East Pakistan with the provincial capital at Dhaka. The federal government moved in 1959 from Karachi to Rawalpindi (provisional capital until Islamabad was finished), whilst the federal legislature moved to Dhaka.

West Pakistan formed a seemingly Homogeneous block but with marked linguistic and ethnic distinctions and the One Unit policy was regarded as a rational administrative reform which would reduce expenditure and eliminate provincial prejudices. However with the military coup of 1958, trouble loomed for the province when the office of Chief Minister was abolished and the President took over executive powers for West Pakistan. The province of West Pakistan was dissolved in July 1970 by President Yahya Khan.

General elections held in December 1970 saw the Awami League under Mujibur Rahman win an overall majority of seats in parliament (all but two of the 162 seats allocated to East Pakistan). The Awami League advocated greater autonomy for East Pakistan but the military government did not permit Mujibur Rahman to form a government. On 25 March 1971, West Pakistan began a civil war to subdue the democratic victory of East Pakistanis. This began the war between the Pakistani military and the Mukhti Bahini. The resulting refugee crisis led to the intervention by India, eventually leading to the surrender of the Pakistani Army. East Pakistan suffered a genocide of its Bengali population. East Pakistan became the independent state of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971. The term West Pakistan became redundant.


The office of Governor of West Pakistan was a largely ceremonial position but later Governors wielded some executive powers as well. The first Governor was Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani, who was also the last Governor of West Punjab.

The Chief Minister of West Pakistan was the chief executive of the province and the leader of the largest party in the provincial assembly. The first Chief Minister was Dr Khan Sahib who had served twice as Chief Minister of the North-West Frontier Province prior to independence. The office of Chief Minister was abolished on 1 July 1970 when President Yahya Khan took over the administration of West Pakistan.

The twelve divisions of West Pakistan province were Bahawalpur, Dera Ismail Khan, Hyderabad, Kalat, Khairpur, Lahore, Malakand, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi, and Sargodha; all named after their capitals except the capital of Malakand was Saidu, and Rawalpindi was administered from Islamabad. The province also incorporated the former Omani enclave of Gwadar following its purchase in 1958, and the former Federal Capital Territory (Karachi) in 1961; the latter forming a new division in its own right.

Tenure Governor of West Pakistan
14 October 1955 - 27 August 1957 Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani
September 1957 - 12 April 1960 Akhter Husain
12 April 1960 - 18 September 1966 Malik Amir Mohammad Khan
18 September 1966 - 20 March 1969 General (retd) Musa Khan
20 March 1969 - 25 March 1969 Yusuf Haroon
25 March 1969 - 29 August 1969 Lt General Attiqur Rahman (first term) (martial law administrator)
29 August 1969 - 1 September 1969 Lt General Tikka Khan (martial law administrator)
1 September 1969 - 1 February 1970 Air Marshal (retd) Nur Khan
1 February 1970 - 1 July 1970 Lt General Attiqur Rahman (second term)
1 July 1970 Province of West Pakistan dissolved

Tenure Chief Minister of West Pakistan Political Party
14 October 1955 - 16 July 1957 Dr Khan Sahib Pakistan Muslim League/Republican Party
16 July 1957 - 18 March 1958 Sardar Abdur Rashid Khan Republican Party
18 March 1958 - 7 October 1958 Nawab Muzaffar Ali Khan Qizilbash Republican Party
7 October 1958 Office of Chief Minister abolished

See also


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