The First Martial Law
President Ayub Khan military regime's attention was mainly focused on its relationship with the international capitalist system and gaining some degree of political legitimacy from the west. Ayub had been instrumental in allying Pakistan with the Unite States. He made a deep impression on President Eisenhower and even more so on Vice-President Richard Nixon and Secretary of state John Foster Dulles. In 1954 the Eisenhower-Nixon administration signed its initial military assistance program with Pakistan. The same year Pakistan joined SEATO and then the Baghdad Pact in 1955. the Pakistani Army's first indigenous Commander- in- Chief, Ayub was committed to the modernization of the armed forces and he had turned to the United States at a most opportune moment. The United States government was eager to meet Ayub's request for assistance and thus began a long period of mutual cooperation and goodwill between the two countries. When Ayub seized power in 1958, the United states government did not necessarily approve, but neither was it very upset.  "His foreign policy was one of vassalage to the United States which he believed would keep him in power."
During his era one sees the first institutionalization of corruption in the country. He resorted to high appointments in the army without consideration of merit. Instead of reorganizing the army to meet the requirement of an independent and free country he retained its colonial structure and tradition. "The British ethnicization of regiments was maintained, the mess tradition left untouched to the extent of the display of old battle standards won on our soil. The army was kept tuned by him to serve the adventurers like him, not the nation's interest."
His era witnessed rapid industrial progress (mainly in the western wing of the country) with two five-year economic development plans. However his so-called 1958-68 "development decade" actually became a decade of exploitation and deliberate promotion of inequality between classes and regions with the 22 big industrial families amassing most of the wealth. The record reveals that Pakistan's Second Year Plan (1960-1965), the one that covered a good part of the martial law period, was a substantial success from a statistical point of view. But there was little overall improvement in the life-style of the general population.
President Ayub Khan introduced industrial development program under the doctrine of "functional inequality on the familiar plea that government should tolerate "some initial growth in income inequalities to reach high levels of saving and investment." This growth was to be achieved through a system under which income inequalities were to be permitted for a long time until the benefits of such a system would trickle down to the disadvantaged groups at the later stage.
Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, probably the most influential adviser of his government and drafter of the Second Five-Year Plan, was responsible for much of the thinking embodied in the Plan. He accepted the proposition that "the route to equality lay through inequality" on the ground that during the earlier phase of industrialization such inequality was inevitable. He argued that "the under-developed countries must consciously accept a philosophy of growth and shelve for the distant future all ideas of equitable distribution and welfare state. It should be recognized that these are luxuries which only developed countries can afford."
The theory of "social utility of greed" was also championed by Pakistan's Harvard adviser to the Planning Commission, Gustav F. Papanek, who advocated that income inequalities not only contributed to the growth of the economy but also made possible a real improvement for the lower-income groups. In his work on Pakistan's economic development model pursued in the sixties, Gustav Papanek defended the very high rates of profit allowed to the private sector on the plea that since the bulk of these profits were being reinvested, they produced economic growth which was essential for reducing poverty and thereby reducing inequality.
It was apparent that this system of "functional inequality" involving disparities among the various classes and regions could operate with far fewer checks under an authoritarian system like that of Pakistan.
The policy of income inequality between classes was pursued simultaneously with a policy of regional inequality in terms of East and West Pakistan and in terms of regions within West Pakistan. During the decade 1959-60 to 1969-70, per capita gross domestic product in terms of 1959-60 constant prices grew only by 17 percent in East Pakistan, but by 42 percent in West Pakistan. The central government also conceded that disparity measured by the difference between per capita incomes in West and East Pakistan expressed as a percentage of the per capita income of all Pakistan had increased from 38.1 percent in 1964-65 to 47.1 percent in 1969-70.
President Ayub introduced land reforms in West Pakistan in 1959  under which ceilings of 500 acres of irrigated and 1,000 acres for non- irrigated lands were fixed. However, the mere size of the ceilings suggested that certainly the medium-sized landowners whose scions were heavily represented in the army and civil services were not going to be adversely affected. In addition, there were so many loopholes in Ayub's land reforms that landlords could still own and cultivate up to about 2,000 acres of irrigated or 4,000 acres of non-irrigated land if they transferred some of their land to their legal heirs and converted some into orchards, nurseries and game preserves. The big landlords did not suffer any eclipse in the political power and they were able to transfer some of their wealth and savings to investment in industries.
At the time when the Ayub regime was facing urban militancy largely as a result of the decline in real wages and the growing awareness among urban groups of industrial and economic concentration, the Planning Commission reiterated in November 1968 the basic premise of the government's developmental strategy: "We cannot distribute poverty. Growth is vital before income distribution can improve." However, the commission admitted that in spite of rapid growth, Pakistan continued to be one of the poorest and most illiterate societies. It failed to admit that the strategy that it had followed implied that because growth was vital before income distribution, the poor had to remain poor for a long time so that growth might continue at an accelerating pace. This vicious circle of more and more growth with poverty increasing or remaining the same or improving very little could only be broken if the poorer groups were to acquire political power.
It was in his regime that one saw a clear unfolding of certain trends and developments represented what may be described as an ideological change in Pakistan. Under him there was economic change through industrialization, improved agriculture and modest land reforms spreading to areas other than Karachi, particularly to Punjab and a few urban centers in Sindh and the Frontier.
It may be suggested that as a result of these changes the masses in many parts of West Pakistan could no longer be aroused by appeals to vague and emotional notions of Islamic unity. This explains why during the 1970 elections Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party made such serious inroads in the semi-prosperous areas of Punjab. It offered a new but vague ideological program under the name of Islamic socialism or Musawat.
Ayub, not being able to satisfy Bengaliexpectations that he had aroused through his constitutional assurances that disparity would soon be removed and by his policies of coercion of urban elements in East Pakistan, laid the foundations for the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. It was in Ayub's regime that in both East and West Pakistan there was a growing skepticism as to whether the appeal of Islam could continue to keep the two disparate wings together.
This represents the other side of ideological change, that is to say, Islam could neither be used to justify nor explain the increase in egalitarian society that had emerged in Pakistan, nor could the Islamic factor serve any longer as the only cementing force between the two disparate wings of the country.
President Ayub flouted his own constitution which stipulated that in the event of frailty or failure to discharge his duties, the President would hand over to the Speaker of the National Assembly, which was hand-picked and who would be only too glad to carry out orders. But Ayub took no chances, and handed over to General Yahya Khan when he lost his nerve and could no longer face an agitation conducted by people who had been disenfranchised.
To complete the narration, in the aftermath of the 1965 war and the Tashkent declaration, a mass agitation had also started against the Ayub regime in West Pakistan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto mobilized the agitation to build up support for himself and later for the PPP. In 1968, Ayub Khan finally began to lose his grip on power because of his serious illness.
By March 1969, he realized that he had to go. However, instead of handing over to the Speaker of the national Assembly, as his own constitution provided, he decided to impose martial law once again. Ayub's biographer Altaf Gauhar, says General Yahya Khan, had led Ayub to believe that the army would put down the agitation, eliminate his political opponents and put him back in power in about three months. However, Yahya Khan had his own agenda and abrogated the constitution. He thus eliminated Ayub Khan much the same way as the latter had eliminated Iskandar Mirza, after seizing power, on October 27, 1958.
General Yahya was indeed waiting in the wings for such an opportunity. He lost no time in assuming new powers and ventured on the democratic path in order to publicly expose its inadequacies. He was convinced that no political party would secure a working majority and that he could continue to play the role of a benevolent arbiter who enjoyed the support of the most well-organized political party of the country, i.e. the Pakistan Army. It was his misfortune, however that his own constituency was decisively humiliated in Dacca and all the reassuring forecasts of the intelligence agencies proved totally incorrect.