In its 70-year history Pakistan has seen 22 Prime Ministers. First PM Liaquat Ali Khan’s term lasted 4 years and 2 months, and is still a record.
New Delhi: Pakistan goes to the polls Wednesday, under the shadow of not even one prime minister having completed a full five-year term in office.
The reasons have varied, from resignation and dismissal by the President, to military coups, disqualification by the Supreme Court, and even assassination.
Here’s the list of people who have sat on the hot seat (excluding caretaker PMs):
Liaquat Ali Khan (14 August 1947 to 16 October 1951)
Khan was one of the founding fathers of Pakistan, and ruled for four years and two months — still the longest tenure for any Prime Minister.
He was assassinated at Rawalpindi’s Company Bagh during a public meeting of the Muslim City League. The site was renamed Liaquat Bagh in his honour.
In 2007, Benazir Bhutto was also assassinated at the same place.
Khawaja Nazimuddin (17 October 1951 to 17 April 1953)
While serving as the second Governor-General of Pakistan, he was asked by leaders of the ruling Muslim League to take over as PM following Liaquat Ali Khan’s assassination.
Nazimuddin had appointed Malik Ghulam Muhammad as the Governor-General. But when the latter tried to dismiss Nazimuddin’s ‘weak’ administration, the PM resisted. Ghulam Muhammad used his discretionary powers under the provisional constitution to cut short Nazimuddin’s time in office.
Muhammad Ali Bogra (17 April 1953 to 12 August 1955)
Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad appointed career diplomat Muhammad Ali Bogra the Prime Minister after Nazimuddin’s dismissal.
Two years later, when Ghulam Muhammad was abroad for treatment, acting Governor-General Iskander Mirza dismissed him as well as PM Bogra, dispatching the latter to the US as Pakistan’s ambassador.
Chaudhry Muhammad Ali (12 August 1955 to 12 September 1956)
It was during Muhammad Ali’s tenure that Pakistan adopted its constitution. But he fell out of favour with his own party, the Muslim League, which passed a no-confidence motion against him in the National Assembly. He eventually resigned from office.
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (12 September 1956 to 17 October 1957)
Awami League leader Suhrawardy became Prime Minister when he joined hands with the Muslim League and the Republican Party after Muhammad Ali’s resignation. But like his predecessor, he resigned due to falling popularity within his own party as well as differences with President Iskander Mirza.
Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar (17 October 1957 to 16 December 1957)
Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar was appointed the next Prime Minister and was supported by Awami League, Krishak Sramik Party, Nizam-i-Islam Party and the Republican Party. But just 55 days later, after losing a vote of confidence in the National Assembly, he was forced to resign.
Feroz Khan Noon (16 December 1957 to 7 October 1958)
Feroz Khan Noon was handpicked by his Republican Party colleague, President Iskander Mirza, to take on the role of PM. But soon, the relationship began turning sour.
Around this time, Ayub Khan led the first military coup d’etat, overthrowing Mirza and imposing martial law. Noon was dismissed by default.
Nurul Amin (7 December 1971 to 20 December 1971)
As the Bangladesh Liberation War was unfolding, Nurul Amin, a prominent Bengali leader, was appointed PM by the President, General Yahya Khan, on the request of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. However, he remained PM for just 13 days, during which Pakistan lost the war.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (14 August 1973 to 5 July 1977)
Following the war, Yahya Khan resigned as President of Pakistan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over. In 1973, Pakistan adopted a new constitution, and on 14 August, Bhutto became Prime Minister. He carried out a series of reforms in the industrial sectors, including the nationalisation of banks and flour, rice and cotton mills.
Bhutto was imprisoned in 1977 by General Zia-ul-Haq, who imposed martial law. Bhutto was later given a death sentence on murder charges by the Lahore High Court, which was upheld by the Supreme Court. He was hanged on 4 April 1979.
Muhammad Khan Junejo (24 March 1985 to 29 May 1988)
Junejo was appointed the Prime Minister by President Zia-ul-Haq. However, just over three years later, after differences emerged between the two, he was dismissed by Zia himself.
Benazir Bhutto (9 December 1988 to 6 August 1990)
Benazir Bhutto was the youngest and the first democratically-elected woman Prime Minister of Pakistan. She started the people’s programme for economic empowerment of the downtrodden.
Her government was accused of corruption and dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
Nawaz Sharif (6 November 1990 to 18 July 1993)
Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister for the first time in November 1990. He tried to invite private investment to boost Pakistan’s industry.
His first stint ended in less than three years as Ghulam Ishaq Khan dissolved the National Assembly on 18 April 1993. He was reinstated by the Supreme Court, but had to resign along with the President in July 1993.
Moeenuddin Qureshi (18 July 1993 to 19 October 1993)
Moeenuddin Qureshi was appointed as caretaker PM by President Khan. He lasted less than four months, as the country fell into a constitutional crisis.
Benazir Bhutto (19 October 1993 to 5 November 1996)
Bhutto was elected Prime Minister for the second time in October 1993. Her visit led to United States Senate signing the Brown Amendment, which paved the way for arms delivery to Pakistan.
Her second term ended like her first, when Bhutto was dismissed on charges of corruption by President Farooq Ahmad Leghari.
Nawaz Sharif (17 February 1997 to 12 October 1999)
Sharif won the elections with a huge majority and became PM for the second time. During this term, Pakistan successfully conducted nuclear tests.
Sharif had a confrontation with army chief General Jehangir Karamat, forcing the latter to resign. The PM then appointed General Pervez Musharraf, who masterminded the events leading up to the Kargil War. The strained relationship between the PM and the military culminated in a coup d’etat on 11 December 1999.
Zafarullah Khan Jamali (21 November 2002 to 26 June 2004)
Jamali was infamous for once saying that he was proud to be the ‘personal secretary’ of Musharraf, who appointed him PM. He ‘stepped down’ in 2004, though it later came to light that he had to go because he had lost the confidence of the all-powerful President.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (30 June 2004 to 27 August 2004)
Shujaat Hussain took over from Jamali as PM. The highlight of his short tenure was the announcement of a special parliamentary committee to resolve the Balochistan crisis through political dialogues. He handed over the reins to Shaukat Aziz, and remained the president of the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid e Azam).
Shaukat Aziz (28 August 2004 to 15 November 2007)
Aziz retained the finance portfolio and pushed for Pakistan’s structural reform programme and economic revival. He left office in November 2007 after completing his parliamentary term —the first Prime Minister to achieve this feat.
Yousaf Raza Gilani (25 March 2008 to 19 June 2012)
The Pakistan People’s Party picked Yousaf Raza Gilani to head a coalition government after elections threw up a hung National Assembly.
Gilani faced several allegations of corruption in his tenure spanning over four years. He was eventually disqualified by the Supreme Court after being convicted for contempt of court.
Raja Pervez Ashraf (22 June 2012 to 24 March 2013)
Raja Pervez Ashraf was nominated the Prime Minister by the Pakistan People’s Party. He was also arrested on the order of the Supreme Court. Ashraf was alleged to have received kickbacks in the Rental Power Projects case.
Nawaz Sharif (5 June 2013 to 28 July 2017)
Sharif became Prime Minister for the third time after winning the 2013 general elections, which Imran Khan of the Tehreek-e-Insaf party called “rigged”.
Owing to the Panama Papers expose, he was disqualified by the Supreme Court and barred for life from holding public office.
In July 2018, Sharif was convicted of having disproportionate assets, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (1 August 2017 to 31 May 2018)
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was nominated as interim Prime Minister by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), after Sharif’s disqualification.