1965: Lets Revisit History
The year, 1965, is remembered by most of the Pakistani populace as the year in which Pakistan successfully defended its territories against the might arch-rival, Bharat. The war has its own significance, however, there is more to 1965 in terms of history which forever changed the political landscape of Pakistan.
The Conventional Muslim League supporting then-President Ayub while Combined Opposition parties were ready for a surprise.
The election was indirect as the electoral college of 80,000 electorates had to elect the President.
So, what really happened in these elections?
Ayub Khan confident of his popularity and a weak political opposition decided to conduct a presidential election in 1965, just to reaffirm his popularity and get things going on.
As soon as these elections were announced, the five opposition parties formed an alliance and presented their nine-point program, one of those included the restoration of parliamentary democracy and the introduction of direct elections.
To the surprise of Ayub Khan, the opposition parties fielded Fatima Jinnah instead of Muhammad Azam Khan.
Fatima Jinnah had exiled herself from politics after the independence of Pakistan. However, in 1964 she reverted to politics as she had sympathies with COP’s stance.
She drew enormous support all over East and West Pakistan. She targeted Ayub Khan’s Indus water treaty by calling it a surrender of water resources to India. Many people flocked to her support, as she was seen as a figure who would end the dictatorship in Pakistan.
“Down With The Ayub Dictatorship”
Ayub Khan became immensely worried about Fatima Jinnah’s popularity all over Pakistan. Therefore, he legislated on electoral matters in order to give him an upper hand on Fatima Jinnah. Ayub had no discomfort in bribing the elite business community in Pakistan by granting them import licenses to ensure their support. Nonetheless used the treasury benches to fund his own campaigns as opposed to Fatima Jinnah’s campaigns which were funded by the ordinary civilians.
Pak Tea House featured an interesting article referring to the Regime vs Ms. Jinnah`s political battle.
The election took place on 2nd January 1965 and Ayub Khan won the election with 62.43% of the vote while Fatima Jinnah received 35.86% of the electoral vote.
Opposition parties accused Ayub Khan of rigging the elections but Fatima Jinnah accepted the result and conceded.
So, how is the election of 1965 important? Firstly, it introduced the concept of women leading from the front politically in Pakistan.
Many religious parties including Jamaat-e-Islami supported Fatima Jinnah as the president of Pakistan which further cemented this concept. Although today they might be thinking differently
Ms. Jinnah was a beacon hope for a Nation still struggling to find its true political identity. We still aspire to women like Ms. Jinnah to advocate for the Jinnahs always stood for.
Long Live Democracy