Role of Major Political Parties in National Integration in Pakistan 1947-1971

  1. Synopsis

Role of Major Political Parties in National Integration in Pakistan 1947-1971.

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Researcher. Your Name

Research Supervisor. .

Department of political Science Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan

Table of content Title Page no
1 Introduction
2 Research Questions
3 Objectives of the study
4 Literature review
5 Methodology

Significance of the Study




National integration is a problem of both developing and developed countries. However, there are some important differences between the two, in developed countries; there is a persistent, well-formed, national ideology, a national elite, and national political institutions. Thus, in developed countries the achievement of national integration is not as difficult as compared to developing countries, where there is the absence of prerequisites of national integration. (Jehan, 1972: 2) In developed world, the state evolved out of developed nationhood, in most of postcolonial countries the state and nation had to be carved out simultaneously. State building and nation building are two opposite and contending processes, though in developing countries like ours, they are considered synonymous, state building implies refurbishing the administrative machinery of the authority, whereas nation building stipulates dispersion of powers, cooption of peripheral groups and decentralization. (Malik 1997: 14)

Myron Weiner sets four or five definitions or types of national integration. Firstly, national integration means, “the process of bringing together culturally and socially discrete groups into a single territorial unit and the establishment of a national identity.” Actually, this set of definition of national integration generally applies to an ethnically plural society. It means the creation of territorial nationality, which surpasses or reduces subordinate provincial allegiance. Secondly, national integration means, “the establishment of national central authority over subordinate political units or regions.” It involves the subjective feelings which individual belonging to different social groups of historically distinct political units have towards the nation. (Manor 1982: 89) In this sense, it means the creation of political cohesion and sentiments of loyalty among the people belonging to different social and political groups toward a central political authority. For national integration, it is necessary that the citizens should respect and accept the overriding authority of national government. In a multi-ethnic and regional state, there are inter-ethnic and regional conflicts, which hinder the process of national integration, thus it is the duty of central authority to resolve these conflicts and create an environment, where people respect the national identity. (Mjekodunmi, 2013: 69) Thirdly, national integration means “elite-mass integration.” It means the linking of government with governed. Actually, there are differences between the elites and masses, these differences are not dangerous for national integration, but when the governed accept the rights of governors to govern. Fourthly, it means “value integration” referring to’ minimum value consensus necessary to maintain a social order. Finally, it means “integrative behavior”; there must be capacity among the people to organize themselves in a society for some common purposes. (Manor, 1982: 89)

Shakir (1982) defines national integration as; “the main thrust of national integration is to create congruity among various groups and transform them into a political community. In multi-ethnic and regional societies the creation of harmony and thrive for national integration are important concerns.” According to Jenkins, the balance among various ethnic and regional groups is essential for national integration, and it is the duty of government to create and maintain unity through balanced politics. However, in developing societies and instable democracies the creation of such balance is a difficult task, because there, people always show great affection and loyalty to their ethnic groups, which poses a serious threat to national integration. (Saeed, 2014: 346)

National integration is a many-headedconcept, however here by national integration we mean the process of bringing together diverse socio-cultural, religious and regional groups of a state by reducing the sharpness of their parochial loyalties and fostering of an outlook toward national, central authority. (Qudus, 1976: 13)

Political parties perform different functions like political recruitment, training and education, socialization, communication, political participation and building of consensus among the people of different ethnic and regional groups. According to David Apter “through recruitment practices, political parties build the channels of communication between hostile or non communicating groups and bring them into sets of relationship on which the state is built.” (Apter 1965: 188 in Muhammad 2007: 214) Thus political parties with divers social base and organizational arrangement linkage people of diverse social, cultural and regional standing for the achievement of larger societal goal.(Muhammad 2007: 214)

Political parties are necessary for reducing the sharpness of regionalism and traditional cleavages in a plural society and for fostering a national outlook. Wringgins accepts the role of “mass” party system in promoting national integration in plural societies. He defines a mass political party as one which absorbs into it a wide variety of interests drawn from various traditional, linguistic, regional, caste and other social groups. (Qudus 1976: 18)

According to Kautsky that viable political structure such as political parties, trade unions and pressure groups, when they function effectively, are instruments of integration at lower level, which in turn serve as basis for wider and national integration.(Ubani, 2014: 33)

Figure: 1

Variables of National Integration
Political Culture
Political Socialization Political Communication

Political Participation

Political Parties

Source: Design by researcher.

According to the Coleman’s and Roseburg’s study on Tropical Africa that primordial attachments can neither be eliminated, nor totally be ignored, but the organization of national political parties(single, or dominant one party) is the only organization which can keep the primordial affections within controllable limits. Weiner and LaPalombera also conclude, “strong national political parties, whether in an authoritarian or democratic context, appear to be playing an important role today in providing stable and legitimate government and often in laying the foundations for national integration.”(Qudus, 1976: 18, 19)

National political parties can perform an important role in national integration in various ways. They can provide a common platform for all important ethnic, social and regional groups of the state. Thus, the conflicts among these groups may be very well resolved at the grass-root level of the party or even at its top level. The national political parties reduce the trouble of national government in conflict resolution and reduce the harshness of inter-ethnic and regional conflicts. National political parties can be an important institutional instrument for crosscutting ethnic group membership and for accommodating rising counter-elites of any ethnic group. (Ibid: 20)

Lucian W. Pye observes that for political parties to be successful and dynamic in their integrative role,

“They (political parties) must be capable of serving as a two-way channel, processing the demands and interests of the population upward to the centers of power, and simultaneously passing downward to the people as a whole a better understanding of the absolute restraints and the ultimate requirements of the polity as a whole.” (Ibid: 21)

In modern state, it is an important feature of a political party that it educates public opinion. In modern state political parties, have their own newspapers, journals and other various printed material through which they communicate their political ideology and policy to the people. Political parties also educate the public through public speeches and other platforms. This is why that A.L. Lowell called political parties “the brokers of public opinion.” If a political party is national, not regional in its outlook it would provide positive information and education to the people for national integration. The political party also works as a link between the governed and the governor. The political party that has a majority in the legislature establishes a relationship with people and the government and thus provides an effective link between the governed and the government. Thus, this function of a political party can reduce the gap between the elites and mass which is necessary for national integration. This function of political party produces harmony between people and the government and prevents the outbreak of revolt and revolution in the country, which often hinders the process of national integration. (Bhattacharjee, 1991: 220) Political parties are essential for parliamentary democracy. The opposition political parties in parliamentary government point out the flaws of the ruling party. If the political parties are national in their character and well organized and the ruling party respects the opposition parties’ criticism then there would be more chances of the development of parliamentary government, which is necessary for the effective role of political parties in national integration. (Bhattacharjee, 1991: 221) National political parties also reduce the gap between the rulers and ruled, if both ruling and opposition parties are national in character than they would easily reduce the gap between ruled and rulers. If the ruling political party or parties are national in character then it would have popular support and membership in all regions of the country and on the other hand the criticism of the national based opposition political parties would be constructive and it would oppose regionalism and ethno-nationalism.(Sharif 1965: 96) Integration demands that the costumes, laws, institutions and associations aiming at common goals be organized together to permit their proper functioning. However, for this purpose the people should be trained to understand common goals. A national political party can train the people to understand national goals; by national goals, we mean the social welfare or common good of the people. (Ibid, 98-9)

Thus, national political parties play a central role in promoting national integration and reducing the feeling of regionalism. By a national political party, we mean a political party, which enjoys influence at national level, and its activities are not confined to a particular region or province, works for national interests and presents the aspiration of the whole nation not a particular region. National political parties reduce the sharpness of regionalism and ethno-nationalism and transfer the primordial attachment into national loyalties. On the other hand, regional political parties negatively affect the process the national integration. By regional political parties, we mean those political parties, which generally and exclusively operate within a limited geographical of the state and represent the primordial loyalties of that particular area. In other words regional political parties are those political parties which public support base is confined to a specific region of the state and struggle for the interests of that particular region. (Sharan: n.d: 18) Actually, the absence of national political parties and negative role of regional political parties during 1947-71 made the cause of national integration in Pakistan difficult and finally due to the regional politics of political parties Pakistan broke up in 1971.

Before independence,ML united the Muslims of Northwestern and Eastern Zones of British India, despite the fact they had different languages and culture under the banner of Islam and they successfully struggle for Independence. As the base of Pakistani nationalism was Islam, but this Islamic idealism was not long last, and after independence, regionalism raised its head in Pakistan. (Mehmood 1993: 7)

After independence, Pakistan emerged as a unique country consisting of two wings separated by one-thousand-mile territory of a hostile neighbor, India. In such situations, great wisdom, patience and political shrewdness were required to keep the two wings together. Unfortunately, geographical separation and some other reasons caused discontent and hatred in East Pakistan against central government, which was manned predominantly by West Pakistan. The main reasons of Bengali regionalism were Bengali language movement, economic disparity between the two wings and Bengalis representation in power elites. The realization of these facts generated great discontent among Bengalis against West Pakistan and centre and created a sense of regionalism among them.

Research Questions

What is national integration?

What were the dynamics of Muslims integration in pre-independence era?

What were the causes of Bengali regionalism?

Do political parties play a role in national integration?

Do national political parties positively affect the process of national integration?

Do regional political parties negatively affect the process of national integration?

Objectives of the study

The main objectives of the dissertation revolve around the following points: to understand national integration and political parties’ role in the process of national integration, to trace out causes that undermined political party’s role in national integration in Pakistan. The research would also provide to understand the regional and national character of the political parties and its impact on the process of national integration in Pakistan. The last but not the least objective of the research is to find out means and mechanism to promote national integration in Pakistan. For this purpose, the research has been divided into three chapters. In the first chapter national integration and dynamics of national integration in Pakistan and the emergence of Bengali regionalism and its impacts on the national politics has been discussed. In the second chapter of the dissertation ,the political parties have been discussed in regional and national perspective for this purpose the popular support base, leadership, politics and finally nomination of the candidates and election results of the major political parties have been discussed as a measurement rod to understand the regional and national character of the political parties. In the third chapter, the politics of political parties and its negative and positive impacts on national integration have been discussed in detail. In the research, researcher specially focused on the issue of regionalism and its implications on the process of national integration in Pakistan.

Literature review

For the accomplishment of the present work many books, research article in journals, newspaper statements, opinion, debates, interviews and many websites have studied, visited, analyzed and consulted.

Hassan Zaheer (1994) in his book Separation of East Pakistan The Rise and Radicalization of Bengali Muslim Nationalism, discussed the unstable relationship between East and West Pakistan from 1947-71. He also discussed these events, which became the cause of separation of East Pakistan. In the second part of the book, he especially focused on the events from 25 March to the second war between Pakistan and India. However, the book provides valuable data, but there is no detail work on the topic role of major political parties in national integration.

K.K. Aziz (2007) in ‘Party Politics in Pakistan 1947-58 discussed political parties and their politics. He divided his work into two parts, in the first part he discussed the politics of ML which was the only major political party and had power at the center and in the provinces and in the second part discussed the emergence of new political parties and ouster of ML. Actually the book provides valuable data but it cover only the era 1947-58.

K.K. Aziz (2009) in his book The Making of Pakistan A Study in Nationalism, describes that how the Indian Muslim became a nation and how it affected the Indian nationalism. The book deals with the nationalist movements in historical perspective. The author also discussed the religion and cultural background of the Muslims on the basis they claimed and justified their separate existence. Though the book provides to understand the basic element of nationalism and national integration but it only covered the pre-independence era.

M. Nazrul Islam (1990) in Pakistan: A Study in National Integration identifies different problems, which were faced by Pakistan and Malaysia in the process of national integration. He discussed the problem of ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity, political and economic imbalance between the two wings was a great hindrance to national integration in Pakistan. According to the author Pakistan failed in achieving national integration, he also discussed that lack of democratic government also contributed to the problem of national integration. The author specially focused on the ethnic and cultural diversities and disparities between the two wings.

Safdar Mehmood (1993) in his book Pakistan divided presents valuable and precious data on my topic. He discussed the political events from 1947-71 but he especially focused on Yahya Khan Era and the events of war between Pakistan and India.

Rafique Afzal presents bulky material and in-depth study of poetical parties in his work entitled Political Parties in Pakistan, in three volumes. In the first volume, the role of different political parties has been discussed. He also discussed the emergence of opposition political parties and downfall of the Muslim League. He also discussed the power struggle among the political parties. In the second volume he discusses the imposition of martial law and Ayub regime policies toward political parties and politician, he also discuses different alliances which were formed against the Ayub regime and also discussed the lack of consensus among the political parties on important issues. In the third volume he discussed in detail elections of 1970, election manifestos and campaign of political parties he also discussed the lack of consensus among political parties on constitution making and government formation. These books provide valuable data and information about political parties in Pakistan, but, actually the author did not discuss the problem of national integration and political party implications in the process of national integration clearly.

Rounaq Jehan (1972) in Pakistan Failure in National Integration, discusses various policies adopted by the Central ruling elite for creating a sense of oneness among the different regions of the country. The author discussed that Pakistan failed in achieving nation integration because of disequilibrium in various sector i-e economic development, modernization, state building and nation building. The book provides valuable data, but the author specially focused on Ayub’s regime and its policies of modernization, strong centre and economic development for national integration. The author also discussed the political parties, but did not focus on the national and regional character and popular support base of political parties in detail which is the main theme of my research.

All these books present valuable materials, but no comprehensive and detailed research work has been done on the topic, Major Political Parties in National Integration in Pakistan 1947-71 therefore this work is an endeavor to present in depth and in a comprehensive manner national integration and political parties negative and positive impacts on the process of national integration in Pakistan.


Research is a logical and systematic search for new and useful information on a particular topic; it is an investigation of the findings, solution to the problems through objective and systematic analysis. It is a search for knowledge, information about a problem and matter and discovery of hidden facts. The research methodology is a procedure by which researchers describe, explain and predicts phenomena. (Rajasekar, Philominathan & Chinnathan 2013: 2, 5) Themethod, which has used in the present research, is qualitative and descriptive in nature. The sources, which are used, consist on primary sources as well as on secondary sources. The required data have collected from books, journals, interviews of scholars and politicians, statements by government officials and newspapers. While many websites have been visited for the data, which is relevant to the topic. The libraries of the Quid e Azam University, Islamabad; Punjab University Lahore; International Islamic University, Islamabad; University of Malakand Dir; National Library, Islamabad and other institutions have been visited for the collection of relevant data. Meetings with the experts in the field of political science were arranged, and the researcher kept close contact with his supervisor for guidance and for the solution of difficulties and for the accomplishment research thesis at the proper time.

Significance of the Study

The research will provide a deep picture of the role of political parties in national integration of Pakistan. The significance of research lies in the fact that it will provide comprehensive and well explained picture of major political parties in national integration which will contribute good addition to the existence literature and will also open new diminutions which will attract researchers, policy makers and bureaucrats.


  1. Hakeem Arshad Qureshi, The 1971 Indo-Pak War (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2002), 137
  2. M. Nazrul Islam, Pakistan A Study in National Integration (Lahore: Vanguard Books, 1990),
  3. Herbert Feldman, The Herbert Feldman Omnibus: Revolution in Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2001), 169
  4. Political Affairs Department UK ‘Political Parties in Pakistan’, Report, 1953, DO 35/5153, The National Archives (TNA) London.
  5. Yunus Samad, “South Asian Muslim Politics 1937-58,” (D.Phil. thesis, University of Oxford, 1991).
  6. Mazhar Ali, Pakistan First Twelve Years. “Editorial,” Pakistan Times, 10 November 1953.
  7. . C. A. Thompson, UKHC Karachi to Le Tocq CRO London, 31 January 1956, DO 35/5153, TNA London.
  8. Political Affairs Department UK ‘Political Parties in Pakistan.’
  9. M. Rafique Afzal, Political Parties in Pakistan, vol. I. (Islamabad: NIHCR, Quaid-i-Azam University, 2002), 65.
  10. UK DO, Note on Khaliquzzaman, DO 35/3174, TNA London.
  11. UKHC Pakistan, OPDOM No. 96, for 26 November to 2 December 1948, CO 537/3540, TNA London.
  12. Badruddin Umar, The Emergence of Bangladesh (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2004), 79
  13. Zarina Salamat, Pakistan 1947-58: An Historical Review (Isalamabad: National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, 1992), 104.
  14. Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972), 38-40.
  15. Rafique Afzal, Political Parties, 125.
  16. Ian Talbot, Pakistan A Modern History (Lahore: Vanguard Books, 1999), 140-41.

17. Morning News, 4 October 1955, DO 35/5153, TNA London.

18. UKHC Lahore, Fortnightly Report for the period ending 1 May 1956, DO 35/5155, TNA London. 19. Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration, 129.

20 . UKHC Lahore to UKHC Rawalpindi, 8 April 1967, DO 134/33, TNA London.

21. Ibid, 15 April 1967, DO 134/33, TNA London.

22. Mushtaq Ahmad, Politics without Social Change (Karachi: Space Publishers, 1971), 160-61.

23. Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration, 139.

24. Pakistan Observer, Dhaka, 18 February 1966.

25. Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration, 136.

26. Syed Humayun, Sheikh Mujib’s 6-Point Formula (Karachi: Royal Book Company, 1995), 317.

37. Syed Shabbir Hussain, Ayub, Bhutto and Zia (Lahore: Sange-Meel Publications, 2000), 142.

28. Kamruddin Ahmad, A Social History of Bengal (Dacca: Progoti Publishers, 1970), 33

29. Anwar Dil and Afia Dil, Bengali Language Movement to Bangladesh (Lahore: Ferozsons, 2000), 276-77.

30. Hasan Zaheer, The Separation of East Pakistan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 19.

31. Khawaja Alqama, Bengali Elites Perceptions of Pakistan (Karachi: Royal Book Company, 1997), 171.

32. Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration, 48.