Imran Khan’s first term longer than that of Nawaz, Benazir and all ex-PMs

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 12:29 PM, 21 Nov, 2021
Imran Khan’s first term longer than that of Nawaz, Benazir and all ex-PMs
File photos.

Whether because of good luck, connections with the mighty establishment, prayers of his spiritualist spouse or any other factor, Imran Khan’s current term as prime minister, which is his first, is longer than the maiden terms of the famous leaders like late Muhammad Khan Junejo, Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Shaukat Aziz.  

‘So far he is second only to PPP leader Syed Yousaf Reza Gilani who ruled the country for four years and 86 days before being disqualified by the Supreme Court for disobeying an apex court order in April 2012. 

Even the second terms of both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto are shorter than the ongoing term of Mr Imran Khan that had started on August 18, 2018. On November 21, 2021, was calculated to be three years and 135 days.  

However, Mr Sharif’s third term is longer than the current term of the PTI chairman.  

In case the player-turned-politician completed his mandated five years in office, he will be setting a new record in the country’s history as none of his predecessors could do this for a variety of reasons. 

Opposition parties have been trying to oust Imran Khan since the day he took over on August 18, 2018, on the plea that he had been brought to power as a result of manipulated elections. He was labelled as a ‘selected’ while his unnamed patrons were called ‘selectors’. 

The PML-N and the PPP have been struggling jointly as well as separately to rid the country of the PTI government but have not succeeded in their mission. Both even joined hands on the platform of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, an alliance of almost all anti-government parties. However, the constituents developed differences over strategy, providing the PPP and the ANP with a justification to part ways. 

The PPP, forgetting the bitter experience of the past, has again come closer to the PML-N, reviving the possibility of the former jumping into the PDM once again.   

The JUI-F, led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, had held a long march from Karachi to Islamabad which ended with a sit-in at the federal capital for about a fortnight. However, that too did not bear fruit – thanks to the intervention of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat.  The JUI-F leaders claim that they had been assured of fresh elections to be held after a few months and that the party had wrapped up its protest only after such an assurance. 

The PML-Q leaders deny that any such assurance had been given. 

The opposition parties’ anti-government movement continues even today but, so far, those in power don’t feel under any pressure. Many PTI leaders claim that Imran would rule the country for another term as a result of the 2023 elections.   

Sindhi leader Muhammad Khan Junejo had become prime minister as a result of party-less elections held during Gen Ziaul Haq’s martial law. He wore the mantle on March 24, 1985, and occupied the chief executive’s seat till May 29, 1988 (i.e. for three years and two months). 

His accommodative attitude for opposition parties created a gulf between him and the COAS-president. His initiative of hosting an all-party conference on Afghanistan – in which important opposition leaders like Benazir Bhutto had participated made the Junejo-Zia gulf unbridgeable.  

Junejo had just returned home from a visit to South Korea when Gen Zia dismissed his government, alleging that the law and order had broken down to an extent that the government could not be carried out in accordance with the Constitution. 

(Not many people remember that Mian Nawaz Sharif, who was the Punjab chief minister and provincial president of what was called PML (Functional) at the time and was also in the good books of Gen Zia, had welcomed the dismissal of his own party government. It was, however, the late Ghulam Haider Wyne, then a provincial minister, who had condemned the action. 

Because of the endorsement of the action against the Junejp government, Mian Nawaz Sharif was retained as chief minister in the interim setup).  

Benazir Bhutto became prime minister for the first time as a result of elections held after the removal of the Junejo government. She was the first woman prime minister not only in Pakistan but the Islamic world. For reasons best known to them many in the establishment were opposed to the idea of handing over power to the PPP. Some generals like Hameed Gull were reported to have told then-COAS Gen Aslam Beg that Benazir Bhutto’s enthronement would be against the very ideals that were very dear to the army. However, Gen Beg did not agree with them and gave Benazir Bhutto a go-ahead.  

She took over on December 1, 1988. But she was dismissed in August 1990 by then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on charges of corruption and malfeasance.  

PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto became prime minister for the second time in October 1993. She stayed in office till then president Farooq Leghari dismissed her government in November 1996 on charges of corruption, economic mismanagement and deterioration of law and order.   

Mian Nawaz Sharif became prime minister for the first time in November 1990 and occupied the seat till April 1993 i.e. for two years and 237 days. 

He had been dismissed by then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on account of serious differences with the prime minister. 

(As a result of mediation by then COAS Gen Waheed Kakar, Ghulam Ishaq Khan also had to step down as the head of state. Portraying the development as his triumph, Mian Nawaz Sharif had said that he (Nawaz) had done a great favour to the nation by ridding it of such a person). 

Mr Sharif’s second term as prime minister was from February 17, 1997, to October 12, 1999.  

He was overthrown by Gen Pervez Musharraf after the prime minister removed him and appointed Gen Ziauddin Butt as his successor. The army had not accepted the change and ousted the PML-N government.  

Nawaz Sharif’s third term started on June 5, 2013, and continued till July 28, 2017, when the Supreme Court disqualified him for the office for ‘not being truthful and honest’. This span is slightly over four years. 

The remaining term of the PML-N supreme leader was served out by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. He called the shots for 303 days: from Aug 2017 to May 31, 2018. 

Balochistan’s Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali became prime minister as a result of the 2002 general elections held on the completion of the three-year mandate given by the Supreme Court to Gen Musharraf after the overthrow of the PML-N government. 

Mr Jamali wore the mantle between November 2002 and June 2004 (One year and 216 days). 

Regarded as a lazy soul, Mr Jamali was asked by Gen Musharraf to submit his resignation. 

He was succeeded by Chaudhry Shujaat Husain who stayed in power for 57 days.  He had been duly elected by the National Assembly.  

The Gujrati leader was replaced by Shaukat Aziz who remained in power from August 20, 2004, to November 15, 2007. 

The 2008 elections held after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto brought Multan’s PPP leader Yousaf Reza Gilani to power.  He stayed in power for four years and 86 days – from March 25, 2008, to April 26, 2012. 

He was disqualified by the Supreme Court for not writing a letter to the Swiss authorities regarding the accounts of then-president Asif Ali Zardari.  

His remaining term was completed by Rawalpindi’ Raja Pervaiz Ashraf who remained in power for 275 days.    

Imran Khan has been in the driving seat after the 2018 elections. He has survived all moves against him.