Personalities>Muhammad Khan Junejo

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Muhammad Khan Junejo on being nominated the Prime Minister promised the nation that he would lift the Martial Law and would restore a civilian government at the earliest. Junejo’s position was weak and vulnerable under the constitutional amendments made by Zia, which made the position of the President paramount and that of the Prime Minister subordinate. Despite his weak position Junejo after being sworn in as the Prime Minister carried out his promise of lifting the Martial Law and the restoration of the fundamental rights, but at the price of the eighth Amendment and validating the Revival of the Constitutional Order (RCO).

Muhammad Khan Junejo after coming to power introduced a five-point program in December 1985. The program was multi dimensional in nature. The main objective was to induct a new and progressive civilian order, establish institutions of social justice, introduce an egalitarian economy, increase employment opportunities, strike hard at corruption and other social evils, liberate at least fifty per cent of the people from illiteracy, and to start socio economic development of the country.

After the lifting of Martial Law, Junejo tried to take a course independent of Zia. He annoyed military generals by withdrawing big staff cars form them and replacing them with small cars. He tried to conduct an independent foreign policy, particularly on Afghanistan, by taking into confidence and consulting leaders of the political parties, including Benazir, the leader of the PPP. His government even tried to probe into the military fiasco at the Ojheri Camp near Islamabad on the April 10, 1988, which resulted in the death and serious injuries to a large number of civilians. This probe perhaps became the immediate cause for the dismissal of his government.

It was after the visit of South Korea, Junejo’s regime met its end with a sudden and unexpected announcement by the President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq on May 29,1988 . General Zia dismissed Junejo’s government using the controversial power under Article 58(2) b. According to General Zia, Junejo’s government was dismissed because the law and order situation had broken down to an alarming extent and the government could not be run in accordance with the Constitution. Not only was the Junejo government dismissed but also the Federal and Provincial Assemblies and the Provincial Cabinets with their Chief Ministers were also dismissed. General Zia installed a new caretaker government in the center and provinces. Fresh elections were said to be held after 90 days but were eventually held on November 16,1988 after some delay.

Although Junejo had no claim of his own to power as Zia appointed him Prime Minister, but his performance was commendable. With limited options, he did what was possible for him. He restored the fundamental rights of citizens under the Constitution that had been denied to them for a very long time. He tried to put the country on the course of development and some progress was made, particularly in the area of construction of roads in rural areas and the electrification of villages. He was honest, polite and had a low-key political personality, traits which are not easy to find in political leaders today
 


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