Ayub Khan’s tenure lasted between the years 1958 and 1969. He introduced various economic and social reforms that led to the development of Pakistan as well as had some negative aspects.
Ayub Khan introduced many industrial reforms to industrialise Pakistan in order to impove the living standards of the people as well as bring down the level of inflation. In 1962, an oil refinery was established in Karachi and a Mineral Development Corporation was set up for the exploration of mineral deposits, both of which are still operating in Pakistan today. An Export Bonus Scheme was set up offering incentives to industrialists who increased exports, in order to increase the income earned from exports. The reforms led to the average annual rate by which the economy grew in the 1960s, 7% that was thrice of India. Production rose rapidly and economy improved significantly. The price of consumer goods too reduced.
In order to safeguard Pakistan from famine, Ayub Khan introduced agrarian reforms as well. A law was passed declaring that no farm could be smaller than 12.5 acres or larger than 500 acres (irrigated) or 1000 acres (unirrigated), so that productivity could be increased. The large farms produced a steady rise in food output. Big landowners had to find tenants for parts of their land and this too raised productivity as the tenants and the smaller farms were more efficient than the larger, poorly run farms (larger than the land ceiling). Moreover, three major dams were built to help irrigation and farmers were also loaned money to build wells, to reduce the need for canal irrigation. Crop yields were at an all-time record.
Furthermore, Ayub Khan introduced many social reforms to uphold the society. The government began an extensive literacy programme, building new schools and colleges. General Azam Khan, the Rehabilitation Minister was appointed to deal with shelterless people. 75,000 refugees of the partition era were settled in newly built dwellings near Karachi. Laws were passed that factory owners had to provide accommodation for workers at a reasonable rent, thus upholding their rights. There was also an attempt to control population growth by setting up the Family Planning Programme. Radio, cinema, newspapers etc. were used to persuade people to limit the size of their families. Medical facilities improved and more medical and nursing training schools were set up to increase the number of doctors and nurses. There was also an attempt to uphold women rights. Ayub Khan encouraged female education and also passed The Muslim Family Laws Ordinance in 1961 that improved the position of women and gave them rights such as, the right of divorce.
Ayub Khan’s foreign policy also proved to be beneficial for Pakistan. Industrial development took place as a result of loans taken from more developed countries such as USA, UK, USSR and Germany. In 1961, USSR agreed to begin exploring for oil in Pakistan. China began to give aid to Pakistan in 1963, it granted Pakistan $60 million interest free loan and purchased its cotton and USSR loaned Pakistan 11 million pounds. PIA began regular flights to China in 1963, which increased trade with China. In 1964, an economic union was formed with Iran and Turkey, the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD). In 1968, Pakistan was receiving military aid from USA, USSR and China.
However, Ayub Khan’s reforms also had negative consequences. The industrial reforms improved the economy but the wealth created did not benefit the large number of Pakistanis living near the poverty line. It was revealed in 1968 that only 22 families controlled 66% of Pakistan’s industrial assets. These families also controlled 80% of Pakistan’s banking and insurance companies. Hence, a small elite group of Pakistanis had almost complete control of Pakistan’s wealth. In addition to that, almost all these families were in West Pakistan, creating an economic disparity between both the wings. Pakistan was also becoming increasingly dependant on foreign aid for industrial development.
The educational reforms were not very effective because there had just been a 1% increase in literacy rate. Ayub Khan’s Family Planning Programme and steps towards women empowerment were not supported by ulema and fundamentalists, hence the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance could not be promulgated.
Therefore, it can be deduced from the above discussion that it is justified to term the years between 1958 and 1969 as the Decade of Development because Pakistan’s economy had improved and even those reforms that did not have a positive impact, were progressive and well-planned.