No prime minister has completed a full five-year tenure in Pakistan’s 75-year history – a trend extended with the removal of Imran Khan, who lost a no-confidence vote on Sunday.
Pakistan, a parliamentary democracy for most of its history, has had a total of 29 prime ministers since 1947 – one of whom took on the role twice in one year.
On 18 occasions, prime ministers have been removed under a variety of circumstances, including corruption charges, direct military coups and forced resignations due to infighting in governing groups. There was one assassination.
The remaining prime ministers held the position for a limited time as caretakers to oversee new elections or to see out a dismissed prime minister’s tenure. The year 1993 was particularly fraught, with five changes in the prime ministership.
The shortest tenure for a prime minister is two weeks, while the longest is four years and two months. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was elected prime minister three times: 1990, 1997 and 2013 – the most for a single candidate.
Here is a list of prime ministers whose tenures ended prematurely since 1947:
Liaquat Ali Khan: Pakistan’s first prime minister. Took office in August 1947. He was assassinated at a political rally on October 16, 1951. Tenure: Four years and two months.
Khawaja Nazimuddin: Took office on October 17, 1951. He was dismissed on April 17, 1953, by the country’s governor general – a powerful position inherited from British colonial rule – on charges of mismanaging religious riots. Tenure: One year and six months.
Muhammad Ali Bogra: Took office April 17, 1953. Resigned on August 11, 1955. Tenure: Two years and three months.
Chaudhri Mohammad Ali: Took office in August 1955. Internal differences in the governing party led to his removal on September 12, 1956. Tenure: One year and one month.
Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy: Took office on September 12, 1956. Forced from office after differences with other power centres on October 18, 1957. Tenure: One year and one month.
Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar: Took office in October 1957. Resigned on December 16, 1957, faced with a no-confidence vote in parliament. Tenure: Less than two months.
Malik Feroz Khan Noon: Took office December 16, 1957. Dismissed due to the imposition of martial law in Pakistan on October 7, 1958. Tenure: Less than 10 months.
Noorul Amin: Took office December 7, 1971. Left office on December 20, 1971, shortly after the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan. Tenure: Less than two weeks.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: Took office on August 14, 1973. He was overthrown by a military coup on July 5, 1977, and eventually jailed and executed. Tenure: Three years and 11 months.
Muhammad Khan Junejo: Took office in March 1985. He was dismissed on May 29, 1988, by the military chief who was also the president. Tenure: Three years and two months.
Benazir Bhutto: Daughter of slain premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the first woman leader of a Muslim nation. Took office on December 2, 1988. Her government was dismissed on August 6, 1990, by the president, a close aid of the deceased military ruler, on charges of corruption. Tenure: One year and eight months. It would be the first of three governments dismissed on similar charges using the sweeping powers of the president.
Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif: Took office November 6, 1990. His government was also dismissed by the president on similar charges to Bhutto on April 18, 1993. He was able to get the decision overturned by the courts a few weeks later and returned to office, but resigned again after differences with the military. Total tenure: Two years and seven months.
Benazir Bhutto: Returned to power for her second tenure in October 19, 1993. Was dismissed by the president once again on charges of misgovernance on November 5, 1996. Tenure: Just more than three years.
Nawaz Sharif: Came to power a second time on February 17, 1997. Overthrown by a military coup – the third in Pakistan’s history – on October 12, 1999. Tenure: Two years and eight months.
Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali: Elected prime minister during military rule in November 2002. He resigned after differences with the military on June 26, 2004. Tenure: One year and seven months.
Yousaf Raza Gilani: Elected prime minister on March 25, 2008. He was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2012 on charges of “contempt of court”. Tenure: Four years and one month.
Nawaz Sharif: Elected prime minister for a third time on June 5, 2013. He was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on charges of concealing assets on July 28, 2017. Tenure: Four years and two months.
Imran Khan: Elected as prime minister on August 18, 2018. Voted out of power via a no-confidence motion by the opposition on April 10, 2022. Tenure: Three years and seven months.