General Muhammad Ayub Khan was an army general who seized control from another President of Pakistan, Iskander Mirza.

Ayub Khan reforms are important to study because they have had a significant impact to date.

Ayub Khan came into power in 1958 as the chief martial law administrator after imposing martial law. There were various reasons why was martial law declared and how did it affect the future of Pakistan.

Ayub Khan reforms
Ayub Khan reforms

If you want to know about the regime (rule) of Ayub Khan, you will love the comprehensive resources I am about to share with you. But first, let’s study the reforms of Ayub Khan.

Ayub Khan reforms

Agricultural reforms:

The 1958 to 1969 era of Ayub Khan is known as the decade of progress in Pakistan, and this is for a reason – the developments that took place.

Ayub Khan introduced several reforms in agriculture. He limited the holdings of the land and he attempted to modernize agriculture as well.

For this purpose, he fixed the limit that no one could possess less than 12.5 acres of land (because he wanted to increase the agricultural productivity) and more than 500 acres of irrigated and 1000 acres of unirrigated land.

Moreover, Ayub Khan provided several incentives to the farmers in order to modernize agriculture. He decided to provide loans to the farmers so that they could purchase tractors and insecticides and pesticides in order to increase the agricultural output.

However, this proved to be a problem (later) as well. Let me tell you why.

This is because the (many) poor farmers were unable to repay the loans. This is the reason why many farmers faced a lot of problems when it came to agriculture.

Further Reading:

War of Independence Notes | 1857 to 1858

Round Table Conferences | Best Notes

Power Resources | GCE O Level | Interesting Notes

Overall, Ayub Khan reforms led to a 15% increase in the GNP (Gross National Product) of Pakistan. The reason why Ayub Khan introduced these reforms is that the wealthy landowners possessed massive land holdings while the poor tenants possessed unusually less land.

This created serious problems as the agricultural output was not satisfactory. These reforms ensured that people should have at least that amount of land that can lead to some sort of production.

Ayub Khan reforms (agriculture)

To summarise, some of the agricultural reforms of Ayub Khan were:

  • He limited land holdings.
  • He gave loans to farmers (to modernize agriculture).
  • Dams were built to facilitate agriculture.

This takes us to some other reforms of Ayub Khan such as Industrial, educational, health, social and administrative.

Industrial reforms:

Ayub Khan introduced some industrial reforms in order to increase the export and reduce the import to enhance Pakistan’s economy.

For this purpose, Ayub Khan decided to provide incentives to attract foreign investors. One of the incentives includes the Export Bonus Scheme (EBS) which manage to attract foreign as well as local investors.

Moreover, Ayub Khan managed to open more industries in Pakistan for the sake of employment and fulfilling the local demands. Several, oil and gas development projects were also started.

This was the time when Pakistan built three large dams in order to provide irrigation water to facilitate agriculture. Hydroelectric power plants were also set up in order to deal with the electricity crisis of Pakistan.

Moreover, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey came into an economic alliance which is known as the regional cooperation for development (RCD). This was a project between the three Muslim countries to facilitate the development in the three countries. The project was started in 1964.

Furthermore, Pakistan with the assistance of Chinese aid managed to build several large scale industries. Therefore, the industrial reforms of Ayub Khan decreased the inflation rate in Pakistan and this was the time when the economy of Pakistan flourished.

However, a disadvantage is that this led to the occupation of 66% of industries and 80% of banking and insurance companies of Pakistan by only 22 families.

This created serious resentment among the people of East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh) because these 22 families were mostly from West Pakistan (present-day Islamic Republic of Pakistan).

Ayub Khan reformsub Khan reforms (Industries)
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash


  • Export Bonus Scheme (EBS) was introduced.
  • Industries were opened.
  • An economic alliance with Turkey and Iran was created.

Administrative reforms:

In this part, we are going to discuss the 1962 constitution and the shifting of capital from Karachi to Islamabad. Therefore, let’s start with that straight away.

Due to the martial law imposed in 1958 by the government of Ayub Khan, the 1956 constitution was abrogated. General Muhammad Ayub Khan devised a committee for the formation of the constitution of Pakistan.

Thus, the 1962 constitution was introduced that came up with a presidential form of government. Under the constitution, the president could not be removed unless peached.

The constitution introduced the concept of basic democracies for the election of the president. Let’s see what this concept was.

The basic democracy was a system in which the electoral college would appoint the President of Pakistan (who was to be a Muslim and no less than the age of 35). The electoral college would consist of 80,000 basic democrats who were selected by the vote on people on the district, tehsil, division and provincial level.

Under this, the vote on confidence was held and Ayub Khan was declared the next president of Pakistan based on the 95% votes declaring confidence in Ayub Khan.

Note: Now you might be wondering, why was this system (basic democracy) introduced? According to Ayub Khan, this was a matter of “adult franchise”.

This means that he had a lack of faith in the public.

I hope that this four-tier structure has been explained. So, it is time to move on and discuss the shifting of capital.

There were various reasons why Ayub Khan changed the capital of Pakistan. Below are some of the points you can take into consideration.

  • Karachi was vulnerable to attacks during war condition because of the presence of the sea around it. Islamabad however, was a landlocked city.
  • Ayub wanted to get near the army headquarters which was located in Rawalpindi.
  • Ayub Khan wanted to get near to Punjab and KPK (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) because these provinces provided the largest amount of troops in the Pakistan army.
  • The temperature of Islamabad was pleasant enough to work.
  • Islamabad was a city that could be developed according to Ayub’s plan (because Islamabad was undeveloped at that time).
  • The government officials began to involve themselves in the profitable trade in Karachi instead of their work. Therefore, Ayub found it incumbent to shift the capital from Karachi to Pakistan.
  • Karachi was becoming overcrowded due to the massive increase in population. Therefore, it seemed sensible to move the capital to a place where the population was less.

Social, Health and Educational reforms:

The contributions of Ayub Khan in the sectors such as health and education is also worth discussing.

Ayub Khan reforms

Although population control schemes were introduced they could not be effective as they were not carried out on a large scale and they were widely opposed by some sectors of Pakistan.

Ayub Khan opened several schools and colleges and a new curriculum for the textbooks was introduced which he thought would be beneficial. Several centres for the training of doctors and nurses were also opened because of the shortage of experienced medical staff in Pakistan.

These reforms were successful to some extent because they had some positives and some flaws.

Related: Population and Employment | Pakistan Studies Notes

Now when you know how Ayub Khan flipped the government of Iskander Mirza and came as the chief martial law administrator and introduced several reforms, it is time to wrap up the lesson.


What was the Green Revolution by Ayub Khan?

The Green revolution represents the success of Ayub Khan agricultural reforms as they brought about a large increase in the production of food grains (such as rice and wheat).

Who was Ayub Khan (general)?

Muhammad Ayub Khan was the second president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He conducted the first successful coup in the country and seized the presidency from Iskander Mirza in 1958.


With this, Ayub Khan reforms have been discussed and certain other aspects regarding the era of Ayub Khan (1958-1969) has also been addressed.

Now it is on you to decide that whether the tenure of Ayub Khan brought stability and prosperity or his policies brought about some problems as well. The choice is yours.

Thank You very much for reading and staying with me till the end and stay tuned for more.

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